Who really gets eight hours of sleep a night?
I don’t know about you, but in college (and my darling roommates can attest to this!), I was at my “creative genius” between the pre-dawn hours of 1-4 a.m.
(A. and H. unfortunately had to hear the lovely tap-tap of my keyboard during those ungodly hours … my apologies, girls!)
Yup, I was most definitely a midnight owl. And unlike many college kids who could sleep in til noon, I held down a part-time job in the university mailroom and internships and still made it to 8:30 a.m. classes several days a week.
Somehow, it didn’t faze me back then to survive on 4-5 hours of zzs.
And even after I graduated and started working, sleep was never really a priority. In fact, once I started hitting the gym regularly in the mornings back in 2004, it just became habitual.
I had no problem waking up religiously at 5:15 a.m. five days a week for a sweat session, and early on the weekends, as well.
I loved getting it “out of the way” so I could enjoy the evening without a commitment. And since my boyfriend (now husband) lived in another country at the time, it wasn’t like I had someone’s arms wrapped around me begging me to stay and cuddle.
I even slept in clean gym clothes so all I’d need to do is slip on sneaks and go. (I still do this sometimes.)
Fast-forward four and a half years later. Now I am married, have a managerial position at work, do my share of house-hold responsibilities, and maintain an active social life.
And I’ll be honest … it’s hard for me to regularly get out of bed now when it’s cold and/or dark, or when I’m safe and warm in my husband’s embrace, especially after all those years apart (when all I wanted to do was be in his arms).
The truth is, the gym is still a priority and probably always will be a part of my day. But often lately, sleep/rest has won out in favor of a morning gym session.
I’m looking at it this way: I’m learning to be flexible; I just go after work now, or we bike or run together when we can. I still sweat.
As I near thirty, I’m beginning to sense a real and urgent need for more sleep … something I never noticed before.
It seems this desire for sleep might not be such a bad thing and, in fact, might even help me shirk off these nagging pounds.
According to this new article in the October issue of SELF (yes, it’s my fave and no, I don’t write for them … yet!) sleep can actually help fight off weight gain. Who knew?!
Sleep it off
“Getting enough shut-eye can keep your body from storing fat, scientists at Laval University in Quebec note. Night owls who log fewer than six hours of sleep are 35 percent more likely to gain weight—on average, 11 pounds over six years—than those who get seven to eight. “Sleep deprivation increases cravings for sweets and starches,” says James Gangwisch, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “It also causes your body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to belly fat.” To snag more sack time, set a radio alarm to sound 30 minutes before you want to go to bed, suggests Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of Beauty Sleep (Plume). When it goes off, head to your room and relax with stretches or light reading (avoid anything agitating, such as the news). After a half hour, it’s time to dream of a slimmer you.”
Hmmm… Lack of sleep makes you crave starches and sweets? Wow, what do I crave when I wake at 2 a.m. and am ransacking the fridge?! You guessed it. Carbs and sweets. Even if I’ve had a fully balanced, clean food day. When I’m on autopilot, that’s what I reach for. And now it makes sense.
Here’s the rub: it feels good to be sleeping in a little more, to stay cuddled in my husband’s arms a little longer. We don’t have little ones yet, demanding our undivided attention, so I ought to capitalize on this now before everything changes in a few years.
Plus, it’s not like I’m the kind of person who won’t go later; I know myself. And I really think it’s making me less obsessive about the gym.
So for my waistline, and my sanity … I am going to be kind to my body and aim for seven hours of sleep a night, starting tonight. It’s a nice compromise — eight is really too much for me, and five or six is just pushing it.
And if, after a full night’s sleep, I wake at 5:15 raring to go work out… awesome, I’ll go. But if not? I won’t beat myself up over it.
I’m pretty sure my body will thank me for the extra zzzz’s.
How about you? How much sleep do you get, and have you noticed any correlation between weight gain (or loss) and sleep patterns?