Sunday, April 3, 2011

Who needs sleep?

A while ago, my aunt Emily posted a link to an article entitled "Sleep is More Important Than Food." (And may I say how much I love being able to type a few keywords and come up with an article I read weeks ago.) It's something everyone says, but I guess it had never been pointed out to me this starkly before. Since reading that article I've been trying, and mostly succeeding, to get at least something like a full night's sleep every day. I've pretty much been sleep-deprived since high school (late nights reading + early-morning church "seminary" classes = no good for a developing adolescent brain), so this has taken some adjustment. I'm still not 100%-- I have a particularly hard time when I've been at work late and haven't had much time to myself-- but I've improved my sleeping patterns enough to notice a significant difference.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an evil dinosaur first thing in the morning. Multiple cups of stimulant are required to get me functional (though at least I've switched to tea lately), and I'm prone to snap at anyone who approaches me with a question before I've had them. This remains the case, of course-- I love my caffeine much too dearly to give it up without a fight-- but I think the species of dinosaur is much less dire when I've had at least seven hours of sleep. Maybe down to a stegosaurus instead of an ankylosaurus. (Loads of F-bombs in that video; beware.)

I also have a much easier time getting up-- I still pull the covers over my head at least five times before getting up, but at least I feel like I'm capable of getting up before that. In the past I've slept through multiple alarms, and even been late for work, because I went to bed too late. (My brain has developed a nifty self-defense mechanism wherein it says "FU" and ignores alarm clocks if I haven't been getting enough sleep. For several years I went to bed paranoid every night that I might be about to oversleep again.)

Someone on Twitter linked in passing to this article-- Arianna Huffington's "Sleep Challenge 2010." I read it and thought it had a good point. It prevents sleep-deprivation as a feminist issue-- citing stats on how women in the US tend to get less sleep than men do. I'm sure that's true, but I'm also sure that this is an important issue for everyone.

 The other big thing-- and something I've only concretely noticed this week-- is that when I'm really tired I eat way more junk food. Like, follow a full meal with a muffin and a cream bun, or down a whole bag of cookies or four donuts or three slices of pizza in a sitting when I'm not even hungry. This is something that goes way back with me, too. As it happens, the HuffPost article links to this one from Glamour. While I would ordinarily roll my eyes-- "pfft, Glamour"-- I think I'm starting to have anecdotal evidence that you can "Lose Weight While You Sleep": I'm starting to lose weight.

Not a lot, so far, and certainly not enough to write home about (though apparently I'm doing that), but... it's encouraging. I shall follow this trend and see how it goes.

And, as it is a Saturday night, I happily resolve to sleep as long as I can tomorrow morning, with all the alarms turned off. (This is something I fantasize sometimes during the workweek.) I hope that all of you can, and will, do the same. Sweet dreams!