Maybe the Chubby Hubby isn’t the Problem…

man-eating-chips-400x267We’d all like to lose a few (okay, maybe not all–there are a blessed few out there completely content with your body size–damn you all! 😉 ). We assume that it’s that extra cookie that we add on at the Starbucks counter, or when we bow to temptation and take that late night jaunt to the drive through at Mickey D’s, but what if the real culprit isn’t that juicy burger, your sugar fix, or that bag of barbeque Lays?

What if, the real culprit is not food at all, but the amount of sleep you’re getting at night? According to Shape magazine, it might be sleep undermining all your weight loss efforts.

article-2538937-1AA3DA7400000578-149_634x706The debate about the best way to achieve a healthy weight always revolves around eating and movement. If you want to look better, the most common suggestion is “eat less and move more.” But it’s not that simple, or even accurate. Sometimes you want to eat less and move more, but it seems impossible to do so. And there might be a good reason: Between living your life, working, and exercising, you’re forgetting to sleep enough. Or maybe, more importantly, you don’t realize that sleep is the key to being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. And when you consider that the statistic for obesity is nearly identical, it’s easy to connect the dots and discover that the connection is not a coincidence.

Can sleep possibly be a contributing factor in our body size?

According to the Mayo clinic, yes, “it might be. Recent studies have suggested an association between sleep duration and weight gain. Sleeping less than five hours — or more than nine hours — a night appears to increase the likelihood of weight gain.”

That there is a correlation between insufficient sleep and obesity appears undeniable.

When considering the bulk of research on the subject, the Harvard School of Public Health states:

Most studies that measure adults’ sleep habits at one point in time (cross-sectional
studies) have found a link between short sleep duration and obesity…The largest and
longest study to date on adult sleep habits and weight is the Nurses’ Health Study,
which followed 68,000 middle-age American women for up to 16 years. Compared to
women who slept seven hours a night, women who slept five hours or less were 15
percent more likely to become obese over the course of the study.

 

Whether the lack of sleep is actually causing the weight gain, or is the by product of some other X-factor is where things become a little bit sticky.

nighttimeSome believe that the lack of sleep does not directly cause the weight gain, but rather predisposes us to make poor decisions that indirectly are causing the weight disparity. Web MD puts it this way:

It’s true: Being short on sleep can really affect your weight. While you weren’t sleeping, your body cooked up a perfect recipe for weight gain. When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise(too tired), get takeout for dinner, and then turn in late because you’re uncomfortably full. If this cascade of events happens a few times each year, no problem. Trouble is, nearly two-thirds of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep during a typical week …Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control….So it’s a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions.
 
However, others think the lack of sleep might be playing a more direct role. The Mayo clinic explains it this way:One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin — and stimulates the appetite. Another contributing factor might be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.

Whether lack of sleep is directly or indirectly causing those love handles you despise, it is a factor in their existence.

So, tonight, when you’re tempted to watch just one more episode of your choice on Netflix, or drink that frappuccino after 6 pm, you might just want to resist. Your waistline will say thank you.

 

Dreams–Our Own Parallel Realities

I have always loved sleep. Well, maybe not always. My parents do love to tell stories of my very adamant refusal to sleep when I was young. I used every excuse in the well dog-eared book of childhood excuses. In fact, I suspect, though they would not have used the f bomb as the writer (Adam Mansbach) of “Go the F#@$ to Sleep” does, I’m sure they shared his sentiment (as every parent probably has at one point or another). If you haven’t heard of the story, you should check it out, but, be aware, the f bomb is tossed around on nearly every page–despite that, I couldn’t help giggling, snorting, smirking and sometimes laughing outright.

But I digress. I was talking about my love for sleeping, not my early defiance of that lovely, now treasured pasttime.

I have always loved the feeling of slipping between my sheets, of stretching languidly like a self-satisfied cat, and cozying into my perfect, fluffy pillow. With a sigh and a smile, I let go of the day and fully embrace the comfort of my bed, pulling out the book that currently has me in thrall, and then letting it have its way with me until I feel sleep pulling me, finally,  from its grasp.

And on the lucky mornings when there is no alarm clock to pull me jarringly from my dream world, I love the way waking pulls me slowly from other selves living other lives. The sunlight begins to pull me, but I choose to turn it away and snuggle deeper. The sounds of my children stirring, the pitter patter leading slowly into a cacophony of sound: somthing falling, bowls clattering, bickering that leads inevitablly to my door being opened and a little voice sharing her woes–“Mom! Gavin [did, said, breathed, exists]!”

My desire to deny my world and its responsibilities lead me to some mumbled response along the lines of’ “Tell him I said to stop”–not really sure what I’m telling him to stop, but hoping it will be enough for just a few more precious, delectable, so very rare minutes . . .

Until finally, I release my dream world where the past lives and ghosts walk, and I find myself back here–in the here and now.

dreams

Last weekend was different. When I floated between the two worlds, neither awake nor asleep, a poem just sort of entered my mind, and I found myself writing in that moment about that lovely, blissful state, when you can remember your dream world and live it with some amount of consciousness even while the regular world slowly pulls you resistingly away.

This is the poem I wrote while still asleep.

I hope you enjoy! 🙂

dreams3

Slowly, slowly daylight comes–

Calling, coaxing, relentlessly pulling–

Light pushing, pulsing on the edges of consciousness . . .

Sound pricking night’s filter,

Tiny holes letting sound like grains of sand slip through.

Discordant, jarring with the sweet land of youth–

The wrongness tugging at the edges of my mind . . .

Wisps of worry, nagging thoughts, tenuous confusion . . .

A gnat, annoying, pestering, but easily shooed away.

 

More light, more sound

My filter now a sieve denying less,

The sand a steady trickle—

Awareness stirs, it stretches, it opens an eye,

But still I resist, denying, retreating,

Tightly shutting off my mind–

Loathe to leave shades of the past.

I cling a little more,

Enticed to remain lost

In the happy days of youth and light,

Living all the possibilities, parallel realities,

A myriad of different choices.

Stolen kisses, loves long ended and denied,

Old friends, old chums, even enemies–

Time and death cannot bar them here.

Here and now they live again,

In this shadow world of night.

 

More light, more sound, that persistent pest,

Morning, a persistent hound, nosing at my head.

It reels me toward the here and now,

Helpless in my resistence, a fish on a line,

Drawing me nearer.

Even as I fight to stay–to remember–to relive,

One last moment, one last fragment of a dream,

When I was young and beautiful and free,

One more dance with shadows of the past,

One more stolen kiss . . .

 

Light undeniable shines in my eyes

Holding me with its gaze.

The sounds of dawn,

No longer sounds of waking and slow stirring,

But instead a cacophony of pitches and noises,

Bangs and shouts, tears and teasing.

Reality forces the dream away.

 

I wake to the sounds of children, mayhem, responsibility.

Gone are dreams and hopes and remembrance.

Just these old bones, and choices made– not awaiting–

Adulthood, and with it reality.

 

But dreams, so sweet, cling to my eyelashes still,

And I try to grasp the fading tendrils of their memory.

dreams2