Eating to Stay Awake

January 19, 2008 at 1:18 am 1 comment

They say that sleep deprivation increases your appetite.  What do you tend to do when you’re overtired? Eat, hoping it’ll provide you the energy you need.

“For example, in a study of college students allowed only two and a half hours of sleep for three consecutive nights and subjected to interrupted sleep on three other nights, all reported greater appetites, some more than others. The same was true in a study of young men deprived of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep for several nights in a row.”

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s true. My boyfriend has a crazy schedule right now where he’s in the mid-west four days a week for most of the month. I pick him up at the airport at midnight when he flies back home on Thursday nights. Depending on weather delays and other factors, I get four to five hours sleep before starting my last day of work. Now, four to five hours might seem like a lot for some people – or at least enough – but for me, it’s just too little. I need a solid seven hours, ideally eight, to function at optimal levels.

I am always famished on Fridays. I struggle not to eat all the food I bring for the day before 10 a.m. It’s crazy! For a while, I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. I thought maybe it was the excitement of having my BF home or some weird anticipation of the coming weekend. Nope. It’s plain, old fatigue. I’m beat, and my body’s trying to compensate for it.

My BF’s schedule isn’t going to change any time soon. And, considering that I really like being the first person he sees when he gets home, I’m not inclined to leave him to fend for himself at the airport. That means I’m stuck with the yawns on Fridays for the time being. At least I know what I’m up against, though. Knowledge is power, and I’m using that knowledge to find other ways to keep myself going.

CHEW GUM. The act of chewing seems to help me through that compulsion to find food fast. Somehow it also helps me focus on what I’m doing.

TAKE A WALK.Moving gets the blood flowing, which helps the brain kick back into gear.

DRINK WATER. We often mistake thirst for hunger anyway, so this is generally a good practice to follow whenever you think you’re hungry. In this case, it gives my mouth something to do and seems to fill me up for a little while.

SUGAR-FREE ENERGY DRINKS. I drink energy drinks VERY rarely, and I only drink sugar-free ones. If I am extremely tired and have an important meeting or event I have to attend, then I’ll knock back some low-calorie liquid energy. The key to this is doing it infrequently, only when I have something big going on.

Do you find yourself eating more when you’re tired?

If so, what techniques do you use to shift your focus away from food and get through the fatigue?


Entry filed under: coping strategies, relationships, tips & techniques. Tags: , , .

Expecting the Unexpected Recipe for SSSSuccess

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Short on Shut-Eye « Sassy Sexy Shapely  |  March 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    […] can testify to the truth of the findings. I’ve blogged about how my urge to eat rises exponentially when I’m overtired. I’m aware of it, which means I can fight it off to an extent, but it’s still a struggle. I also […]


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