According to my Internet research, not getting enough sleep makes you fat. Suddenly, all has become clear. I plan to lose weight…in bed.
When we are tired, we make a hormone called ghrelin that tells our bodies “OMG EAT SOMETHING FULL OF CARBS BEFORE YOU DIE OF WEARINESS,” and make far less of a hormone, Leptin, that tells us we are full.
And to make this all the more tragic, even if by sheer willpower we avoid the OMG EAT message of ghrelin, we will still gain weight from lack of sleep and the researchers presenting all of this evidence at the 2006 American Thoracic Society International Conference DID NOT KNOW WHY. (Some other sleep researchers found out that when we sleep, we create these excellent chemicals in our bodies that mess around with our calories and figure out how to metabolize our daily nosh. When we spend too few hours in the sheets, our bodies say “OH FORGET IT” and store everything as fat. I think that’s why.)
More websleuthing turned up an inarguable fact. I am a very poor sleeper. To say it in another way: my sleep hygiene is poor; I am a dirty, dirty girl. I mean, I like sleeping. I like it A LOT, it is my second favorite recreation, but I appear to be very bad at it (I hope this is not true of my first favorite recreation…in bed.) I toss, I turn, I wake myself and my husband at 4 a.m. saying, “WHAT? Are you DRUNK?” (Someone had just grabbed my bangs and chopped off a hunk with scissors. In a dream, granted, but what would YOU have said?)
In fact, I found only two things that I am doing that actually benefit my sleep hygiene: I take a warm shower before retiring, and I commonly read a little before I turn out the light. Oh, and I only use the bed for sleep and that other happy thing that couples do…in bed. So that makes three things. That also makes the bed the best piece of furniture in the house. Hm.
Last February the editors of Glamour magazine, ever on the cutting edge of science, were doubtful when a doctor said that women could lose weight by changing their sleep hygiene. They were like “NO WAI,” and he was all “WAI,” so Glamour asked six women to reform their sleep habits, but to not change their diet or exercise habits one bit. At the end of ten weeks, five of the women had lost between six and fifteen pounds…IN BED. (The sixth had a crazy job and couldn’t stick with it.)
I can SO do this.
You, too, can lose weight in your sleep.
1. Only go to bed when you’re sleepy. If it’s bedtime, but you aren’t sleepy, you’re supposed to do something boring for about twenty minutes, then see if you’re sleepy yet. Are you sleepy now? How about NOW? But it can’t be anything stimulating, like watching roller derby or websurfing for more lolcats. I think they mean knitting by the fire or sorting spoons in the silverware drawer.
2. If you aren’t asleep in twenty minutes, get up and see Rule #1. But don’t watch the clock and see if twenty minutes are going by TICKTOCK because that will make you crazy and you’ll start to wonder if there were any new laughing baby videos uploaded to youtube today. Or Rhoomba kittens, even. Just lie there and relax, and if you feel like you’ve been trying to fall asleep for HOURS AND HOURS, its probably been about twenty minutes. Ask me how I know.
3. Have a bedtime routine and stick to it. My routine when I am really trying to be sleep-hygienic: take normal prescriptions, eat a Flintstones vitamin (grape is best,) shower, use magical anti-aging products on face/body, bandage up stigmata (DAMN YOU, HUMIRA,) apply perfumes, read, hopefully zzzzzz.
4. Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, seven to eight hours a night. I fail at this so terribly. Night before last I was up until 3 a.m. watching some woman’s youtube channel on makeup effects which led me to circle contact lenses (fascinating,) Eoljjangs, and Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II who beseiged Constantinople in 1453. The Wikipedia article states: “It is said that when Mehmed stepped into the ruins of the Boukoleon, known to the Ottomans and Persians as the Palace of the Caesars, probably built over a thousand years before by Theodosius II, he uttered the famous lines of Persian poetry:
The spider weaves the curtains in the palace of the Caesars;
the owl calls the watches in the towers of Afrasiab.”
Haunting. I love the internet. But starting from last night, I will be in bed by 11:00 p.m., lights out by 11:30, up at 7:30 a.m.
5. No naps after 3 p.m. If you must nap, sleep no longer than an hour. Some sources say nap no more than 45 minutes, some day nap only in the morning, but then what would be the point? On napping: naps are lovely, lovely. I’ve never had a nightmare while napping. I am a recreational napper, but rarely have the time/opportunity. I save them for when I am sick. I think I feel a cold coming on.
6. No caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine or exercise within six hours of bedtime. Those all mess up your sleep schedule, and are classfied as “arousing.” Heh heh.
7. No television, computers, work, bill-paying, nail-filing, gymnastics or Scrabble…in bed. We must only ever associate sleep and sex with the bed. Do not try to remember the last time the cat was taken to the vet, whether the smoke detector batteries are liable to give out any second even though they’ve been in the smoke detectors for only 5.5 months, if you remembered to mail the mortgage check, if you hear something outside getting onto the garbage cans, etc. Just sleep.
8. Dim the lights at night and be in the sun or bright lights in the morning. This rule is one of the most important, if you ask me. We are diurnal animals and our bodies take important cues from ambient light levels. Dark means sleep and when lights are low our bodies begin to produce melatonin, an important sleep hormone. Same with the stimulating power of bright light in the morning to tell our bodies to wake the hell up. Don’t stare at a bright television or computer screen when trying to feel sleepy. Which I do. Almost every night
9. Sleep cool. Make your bedroom a little cooler than the rest of the house and use blankets to be warm. I also take this rule to mean that I should wear charming pajamas and nightgowns and dress the bed with silk flannel sheets in the winter and 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets in the summer…what?
Who will join me in the Sleeping Revolution? Sleep yourself slim. In bed.
PEE ESS Thanks for all of the divine recipes you all posted in your comments to me last week. I’ve been very, very good with all of those new meals to enjoy.