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No Sleep…No Healthy Diet

I’m having a rough week. Trying to keep up with grad school, part-time consulting work, blogging, and family, it just seems that I’m going over my limit.

Why am I writing about it?

Because when there are more than 10 things to do on my list and nothing is getting checked as soon as I would like to, I push myself harder. I work more, and stay up late. The result: my diet is sacrificing.

I was really hesitant to write this. After all, I’m the dietitian; I should know better. But, I’m also normal, which means I too can fall victim of emotional eating and bad eating habits due to stress and not enough buzz.

Back in November, I read an article about how sleep adequacy is related to more healthful choices. In more details, the study found that motor freight workers who slept better ate more fruits and vegetables, less sugary snacks, and less sweetened beverages.

My purpose is not to analyze a study. They also looked at shifts, job satisfaction, etc, which could contribute to their eating patterns. But, it doesn’t take too much brain-squeezing to agree with the results.

When sleepy, we’re more likely to reach out for sugary foods for an instant quick bout of energy.

Participants didn’t really report how many hours a night they slept, they just answered whether they felt they have been well rested for the past 4 weeks. So, while 8 hours of sleep is the norm I’ve heard, I’m not really going to make a recommendation.

What I’m going to do is share some tips. I reached out (thanks to Facebook) to my dear friends–since I don’t feel I’m in a position to give sleep advice–and asked them for their strategies to go to bed early. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Have someone else sleep early around you in the house!! it helps put you in the sleeping mood
  2. Get up very early
  3. develop a routine in order to make it a habit to sleep early. It’s much easier to sleep around the same time every night. Having said that, all mothers know how delicious it feels to enjoy a few hours alone after the kids are in bed so maybe another strategy is to put the kids down earlier so that staying up a few hours later will still get you to bed at a decent time
  4. Work like a dog during day time
  5. Hot water and mint an hour before
  6. Wake up super early, work super hard, and a warm cup of milk! A little exercise in the AM also makes your body want to get enough rest!
  7. Having a predictable schedule and being flexible enough when it doesn’t work out! Cleaning up as you go (doing dinner, bath time, dishes…) can also help, you don’t have as much to do at the end of the night. It doesn’t matter what time I get up, I’m always ready for bed by 10, just some nights I HAVE to stay up later, but being organized at night makes the next morning go smoother and faster too, so I can sleep in a little to make up for the late night
  8. Plan to sleep a bit early, when you are over exhausted you never sleep well. Reduce amount of caffeine on that day. Don’t have a day nap, and if you did, don’t let it exceed 1/2 an hour. Take a hot bath before you sleep

And for those who can’t shut their computers down or can’t stop reading those awesome food blogs, I was told that there is a computer software you can set to turn your computer off after a certain time you choose. Or, if you’re using a laptop, you can give yourself whatever battery time you have left.

I have 15 minutes on my laptop now. So, I’m going to take my own advice and wish you all good night! And sweet dreams!

Source: Flickr. By Tambako the Jaguar

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Tangled Noodle March 18, 2010, 10:56 pm

    As I read this post, it is 10:55pm and I still have ‘a few things to do’! That is exactly my problem: I can’t seem to use my day time efficiently so I stay up late to finish. Unfortunately, it means that I get few hours of good sleep and am sluggish the next day – just as you described above. Thanks so much for these tips; I need to implement them immediately!

  • Stef March 19, 2010, 12:59 am

    oh yes, sleep is SO important!! hope you catch up on your rest!

  • farah March 19, 2010, 5:51 pm

    this is a really well written article. Good job Nour!

  • rebecca subbiah March 20, 2010, 8:54 pm

    well said I am learning to get of the computer more, hence my pic on the fanpage love ya

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD March 20, 2010, 8:59 pm

    Tangled Noodle: Thanks for stopping by. I hope you got your work done and some sleep as well.

    Stef: Thanks!

    Farah: Thanks!

    Rebecca: Thanks. Yes, it just gets very addictive. There’s always “one” more thing to do 🙂

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