Can you get more sleep?

I see it all over the blogosphere. Peeps complaining about their lack of sleep. I credit Susan with the inspiration for this post as she really got me thinking about this topic. She called a challenge to her readers to try to get more sleep. I gleefully accepted.

Next, I wanted to do a little research to enlighten my readers (and myself) on the dangers of too little (or too much) sleep and find some tips on how to get more sleep. But when the chips were down, this post is really just an excuse to publish random (read: evil) photos of friends and family sleeping. Well, that’s not entirely true…it’s a photo journal of what happens when you are sleep-deprived.

Aside from the obvious need for “Beauty Sleep” and mental focus, why do you want optimal amounts of sleep? Well, one reason has to do with weight gain. In particular, weight gain around the middle: You can call it a spare tire, love handles or a beer gut, but there is research that suggests that either too much (>8 or 9 hours) or too little (<7 hours) sleep can bloat your belly. just had a post about weight gain and lack of sleep. A recent article in the journal Sleep also found relationship between sleep extremes in minorities <40 years old and abdominal obesity. The medical research is plentiful Sleep is of utmost importance.

I hail from a confirmed line of quasi-insomniacs. My Mom used to nap in the afternoon only to be awake most of the night. My Dad (Hi Dad!) is a self-professed night-owl. I’m working against my DNA.

In recent months my previously acceptable “Sleep Hygiene” (real term) started to slip and I began going to bed later and later. Sadly, this was mainly due to the electronic wonder that is the internet. Whether it’s email, blogs, blogging, Twitter, Facebook or good old-fashioned internet ‘surfing’, I’m on the laptop until late. Frankly speaking, this needs to change.

I stayed up late night after night researching numerous sleep disorder websites (kidding!) to see what they are saying. Here are some recommendations from WebMD regarding sleep hygiene: with my corresponding comments in italics :

1. Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.

Other resources say you shouldn’t even read in bed. I find this a bit harsh. When I get in bed with a good trashy In Touch magazine, I’m out by the second page. They forgot to bring this list into the new millennium…how about Electronic stimulation (NO! NOT THAT KIND!)… the internet vortex!

Even Samantha needs to turn off the laptop and get some shut-eye

2. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Try to keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature -- not too hot (above 75 degrees) or too cold (below 54 degrees).

I’m on board: I use eye-shades and ear plugs

Eye masks and Ear plugs- Must-haves for my beauty sleep.


Question: Why are these “WOMEN’S ear plugs? DOH, of course! They are PINK!


Sadly, eye-masks don’t come in Kitty-sizes.

3. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to urination.

Fail. I’m always up in the night to pee and step in cat barf.

What is that inside my water? Chia seeds. Sometimes I like the ‘chew’. Call me crazy.

4. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes about eight hours after you awake. But if you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.

I’m not really much of a napper. Well, perhaps sometimes…

Derek is an expert napper.

He naps long enough for BOTH cats to play “KING OF THE HILL”. (That’s Charlotte, RIP <3)

5. Do not expose your self to bright light if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.

Check. Derek keeps a closet light on all night long (so Un-Green!) SO THAT SAMANTHA CAN SEE. Hello, she’s a cat. She’s nocturnal. She can see an insect from across the room in pitch black darkness. I will not judge. Yes I will. However, even though Samantha doesn’t need the closet light, it does help me find the bathroom, but not the cat barf on the floor. Sigh.

6. Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. Having a smoke before bed, although it may feel relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream.

Not a problem. I have enough vices. Thankfully, smoking is not one of them. For one of my vices, see number 7.

7. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is present in coffee (100-200 mg), soda (50-75 mg), tea (50-75 mg), and various over-the-counter medications. Caffeine should be discontinued at least four to six hours before bedtime. If you consume large amounts of caffeine and you cut your self off too quickly, beware; you may get headaches that could keep you awake.

I’ve been told that any coffee consumed after noon can keep you awake. I said NOON! Other resources say 3pm. Regardless, it’s not a great idea to have that triple espresso after dinner. Having said that, my hubby can take the last sip of his espresso as he is actively falling asleep. Then again, he’s practically narco, remember?

8. Although alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep, the subsequent metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares and sweats.

This is very true. If I’ve had a couple of drinks, I can wake up in the night and stay awake for some time.

Cheers! Well, best not to get too cheery before bedtime.

9. A light snack may be sleep-inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Stay away from protein and stick to carbohydrates or dairy products. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown in research to help people go to sleep. So milk and cookies or crackers (without chocolate) may be useful and taste good as well.

Anyone’s Mom used to give them warm milk when they had trouble sleeping as a kid? If you haven’t tried it recently, it’s worth revisiting. Personally, I don’t agree with the “stay away from protein” mumbo jumbo. Sometimes I have a microwave protein cake before bed and had no problemo. Like this one:

Nommy Protein cake…recipe in another post.


Some protein-spiked carby goodness: Pimped Protein Oats.

10. Do not exercise vigorously just before bed, if you are the type of person who is aroused by exercise. If this is the case, it may be best to exercise in the morning or afternoon (preferably an aerobic workout, like running or walking).

Not a problem. It would take a saber tooth tiger chasing me or a really great Body Combat class to get me out of the house in the evening to exercise. My energy plummets with every moment past noon. I need to strike while the iron’s hot: usually by 10am.

If possible, avoid places like this in the later hours.



Love me some jiggly action, but best to avoid it at night if possible.

11. Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may cause arousals from either allergies or their movements in the bed. Thus, Fido and Kitty may be better off on the floor than on your sheets.

Sam is my spooning partner. She’s 15 years old and we’ve had her since she was a kitten. If she’s not purring, I can hear her heartbeat reverberating through the pillow. This is a sound I want to hear forever. Therefore, the kitty stays. Even if my beauty sleep suffers.

Sleeps with animals? Guilty as charged


Guess I’m not the only one


But sometimes the sleeping craziness is just too fabulous…

More information can be obtained from the National Sleep Foundation and from the University of Maryland Medical center, among many other resources.

So what am I going to do? To start off, I’m going to start Powering Down by 9pm. I’m really, truly going to give it my best shot.

Q:How is your sleep hygiene? Do you sleep enough- 7-8 hours? Have you found anything that helps you sleep? Do you feel that you can ‘catch up’ on lost sleep (experts say no, but I say ‘yes’).


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman said...

I'm an awesome sleeper and I could sleep from 10 p.m. to noon if no one woke me up. That's my big problem. That whole deal doesn't work well with my 8 to 5 job. So I'm always feeling overtired since my alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. If only they would let me work 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. I'd be so much more efficient!

Mr Thinspired (Matthew) said...

Um, so you sleep with 'Gear' too? My lovely wife, sleeps with pretty in pink earplugs and an eyemask, to which we refer as "My Sleep Gear"!

How funny to think you gals are truly a bloggie match made in heaven!

legalstyle said...

Okay... I love it.

#1 "I'm not going to judge. Yes I am." - LIGHTS ON FOR CATS? WHAT?

#2 UM. I DID NOT KNOW THAT LARA'S HUSBAND HAD A BLOG PROFILE AND COMMENTED REGULARLY. Remind me not to let boyfriend know this is an option for him.

he he he

Carbzilla said...

Awesome post! Thank goodness my lovely TMJ doc prescribed nightly Valium or I'd probably only sleep at work.

brittac said...

SLEEP oh my goodness how I love it and I too am guilty of not getting enough!

I need less school, more free time obviously :)

Also THANK YOU for the awesome nut butters and xanthan gum! It made my day!

Charlotte said...

Love your list! Thankfully I've never struggled with insomnia - I fall asleep the second my head gets anywhere near a pillow. Unfortunately my kids are determined that I exist in a state of sleep deprivation. Perhaps they think it will make me forget that I told them no more tv.

Also? I really really need to get on the boat with chia. I want to chew my water!!

Jenn said...

I've been guilty of not getting enough rest lately. Keep slipping into that "vortex". I know it's affecting my foods, cravings, and muscle repair. I'm glad you posted this I'm going to take your advice and hit the hat early tonight. Thanks Deb!

(Love the pictures of your kitties. I like to sleep with Meow Cow too.)

Janetha said...

goodness gracious! i need to go to sleep! thank god for this post, it was not only hilarious (as expected) it was TOTALLY informative!!

okay.. rambles. i hate TV in the bedroom but marshall insists. worlds are going to collide come july. eye masks and ear plugs make me claustro just thinking of them. i am digging all the sam photos! :) chia seeds in water? ok, i could dig it. as far as alcohol goes, i ALWAYS wake up like 3 hours earlier after a rough night of drinking than i would usually. hmmm. your protein cake looks great! what kind of sugarfree jam ya got there? and there is no way in hell im going to ever get the dogs to sleep on the floor. but i am ok with that! i love you.

i need to go to bed.

Lucinda said...

We leave the light on for our cat we are babysitting for at the moment. Oops!

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

I sleep for about 7-8 hours each night, but I need to be away from the computer for awhile in order to fall asleep. SOmetimes the tv distracts me too. Other than that, I can usually sleep well!

Therese said...

This is a great post! Honestly ever since I started getting up 5:15 am to workout I've had no problems sleeping at night...mainly because by the time 9 pm rolls around I am exhausted!

Although the alcohol point made sense. There have been plenty of times I've zonked out after a few glasses of wine only to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep!

tam said...

I usually get to bed by 10/10.30 and am up at 6 so I get my zzz's in. The only thing is my body clock gets me up at 6 no matter what time I go to sleep which can be annoying!

Tenaya said...

Guilty as charged. Up late because I like to check gmail, FB, twitter, etc. Or, I am watching shows that I recorded. And I like to get up early, too. Does not make for a good combination. I always have every intention of going to bed early....hmmmmm......
I love cats. Used to have 2, but when they got really sick I had to put them down. Sheena and Sonora. Sonora curled up with me just like your Sam. I was allergic to them, too. Sigh...
Humans eyes adjust to the night. You shouldn't need a night light. I am up twice a night to use the bathroom, because I drink 16 oz. of Alacer electromix before bed. And some vitamins, too. I have never tripped over anything or fallen down. The husband on the other hand? Well, I'm not going to go there. Yeah, he needs to turn on the light when he uses the BR.
Alcohol? Not too often, because it is just empty calories.

homecookedem said...

Loads of great info here, thanks!! I'm a great sleeper. *knocking on wood* Very rarely do I have any trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It could be b/c I already do a lot of what you mentioned. There is nothing in our bedroom except for our clothes and our bed. No TV, no books, no computer, no nothin! I almost always get a solid 8 hours of sleep. And I never take naps. Haha, I bought those same earplugs when I went on a trip to Puerto Rico with my parents. Both of them snore horribly, hehe, but I bought them just cuz they were ridiculously funny to me, hehe! ;)

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

I spend too much late night time at my puter b/c the house is quiet and i get alot done. Except my sleep is at an all time low. Really, this is such a great reminder to me to unplug, and go to bed!!!!!!!!!

peanutbutterfingers said...

lol at the electronic stimulation! :D too funny.

Susan said...

I've been unplugging at 9pm too!!! Then I get bored and just go to sleep ;) I hate to admit this, but before the sleep challenge, I used to bring my laptop to bed with me. An hour would suddenly pass and I'd be wired and waaaaay past my bedtime. No more. Computer goes off at 9pm and gets left in the living room where it belongs (living room term used lightly here - I live in a bachelor).

"My energy plummets with every moment past noon. I need to strike while the iron’s hot: usually by 10am"

So happy you are my exercise twin!! I am the EXACT same way. 9-10am is my prime time for exercise, anything past noon and it ain't happening. I've worked out once in the evening since November.

I love how you sliced up your protein cake :)

TiredGirl said...

Lol I love this post! Especially that last picture!

I get at least 7 hours of sleep. Otherwise I sleep drive in the morning. You know when you drive and aren't aware? I get it bad. Thank heavens I mostly drive through the country.

Luckily my dogs no better then to sleep on the bed. Well unless I run the vacuum. Two 60+ lb dogs on a queen sized mattress and two adults just doesn't work. I'd choke on Collie hair!

Jamie (BeautyandtheBeef) said...

I love my sleep and NEED at least 8 hours. I'm so out of it and cranky if I don't so I usually am in bed at a reasonable time during the week. I like to be asleep by 11:00. I don't think I could do 9:00!

On the weekends I usually sleep a more than 8 but I go to bed later and wake up later. So yes I do think you can catch up on sleep as well!

Rhoda said...

Great post. Informative and oh so funny. Love the photos.

My mother used to tell me that when I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, "keep your eys half or 3/4 closed, then you get back to sleep easier". Funny but true, at least for me. I do it to this day.

closet365 said...

Oh man. I have been suffering from some sort of seasonal insomnia lately and it's KILLING me. I can't wait for it to pass because I'm very picky about getting my sleep. I freak and turn into a nutcase without at least 7 hours a night.

ari said...

I have no problem going to sleep at all, and I sleep so well that I didnt feel the 4.4 earthquake from 2 wks ago. I also like to take a nap when possible, but never after 4pm. Also, I will never have, again, a double expresso at 5pm.
The last picture is pretty funny, and I am sure when I am not here that happens.

Thinspired said...

AAAANNNNNND thank you, Mr. Thinspired, for spilling my sleeping secrets.


Love handles? What? I don't know what those are. Hehe. No seriously. So it's not the wine + cheese like I thought? :)

Great info in this post, Deb. I have had sleep problems on and off since college. My caffeine consumption has jumped up a lot in the last month. I'm worried :/

Recipe PLEASE on the protein cake!

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen said...

I go back and forth between good sleep and bad. My husband and I definitely feed off of how the other one sleeps. If he can't sleep...neither can I. I am not a good napper anyway, so when it is a bad is hard for me to catch up.

runwritetherapylife said...

Thanks for the tips. I just did a rant-post about my sleep issues.
Happy Friday!

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