Sunday, October 13, 2013

Insomnia Part II and Teensy Tiny Confession

I mentioned in my last post that I've been having trouble sleeping, which I think I can safely attribute to the following three factors:

1) horrible sleep hygiene
2) stress
3) poor eating

The first couple are pretty straightforward; I often stay on my computer or phone until the wee hours, and I've heard over and over again that the artificial backlight can mess with your natural sleep rhythms of whatever. Plus I have a teeny bladder but guzzle water pretty much up until I get into bed, which means that I not-infrequently have to get up to pee a couple times before I actually fall asleep. PLUS I am a worrier, and use my me-time after I turn the lights out to contemplate all the possible scenarios in which things might go wrong in the near or distant future.

But the eating thing has stayed under my radar because it's pretty subtle, and it wasn't until the wise, wise JS reminded me that under-eating wreaks havoc on my sleep that I realized, huh. I haven't been eating that well lately.

It's little stuff, like skipping a snack here and there. Actually, that has happened at least three or four times in the past couple weeks that I can remember - where my afternoon snack got delayed for some reason (work, meetings, etc.) and by the time I remembered it, my brain latched onto that old habit of: How about I just don't? And as soon as that thought crosses my mind, it's pretty much guaranteed that I'm going to skip it.

This is a weird position for me because on the surface, I am completely uninterested in active restriction and going all hard core Weight Loss. And when I do skip the snack, I'm STARVING. My body is used to getting fed regularly these days, and going without those XXX calories between lunch and dinner (usually a LONG time due to my class schedule) is rough. But even when my stomach is twisting and aching with hunger, the old compulsion still wins out.

I cannot emphasize how irrational this is. I'm not trying to restrict. I have a target number of calories that I aim to eat per day, and skipping the snack puts me significantly under. I repeat all those reasons that Food is Good and Restricting is Bad over and over again, but that doesn't seem to change much in the moment.

Anyway, I suppose it's a good thing that I find this unintentional restriction to be frustrating rather than satisfying, although that's really no excuse for continuing to let it happen. I know better.


  1. Really brave and insightful of you to realize what's going on, and say "it's NOT ok." That's a major step forward! I also like that you mention you're not returning to active restriction. It's tough when meals/snacks get delayed like that; any way you can carry an extra snack in case that happens and you can just sub in a granola bar or yogurt raisins or something? Also, my RD made a rule for me that if I skip a snack, I lose 3 days of exercise privileges. It's 7 days for a skipped meal. That definitely helps keep me on track as far as remembering that if I want to be active, I have to treat my body well and not let little things slide by until they become big things. Do you think something like that would work for you?

    I'm also really glad you're noticing that you're hungry, which is the first step. Now it's a matter of overriding the compulsion to restrict, and I fully believe you can do it!

    1. Your RD sounds like a boss. Good for her AND for you! That's really smart to stay on top of every little thing, especially when recovery is so new and fragile. I am also working on that idea of treating my body well, and seeing food as necessary and nourishing. It helps a ton that my body image is way better than it used to be and that my weight is pretty stable. I can focus my attention on eating well and adequately without freaking out about the scale or the mirror. This sounds super cliche but it feels like a more "holistic" and balanced approach to eating, you know? Anyways, thanks for being so sweet!

  2. Glad I wasn't being too pushy/projecting. For me, well, I'm not on a meal plan at all anymore (which is not a place I ever imagined being three years ago when I just outta IP), but I do a similar thing-- when I'm legit too busy to eat when I'm hungry/when it's lunch time.... that can set me off. And then I don't realize til later that I'm cranky/sleepless because of the food. So I try to "force" myself to eat something substantial before bed if I know I've skimped throughout the day-- even though by the time I get home from a crazy long day I'm not hungry/feeling semi-high/oddly comforted by the incidental undereating. So for me, haagen daz does the trick, and for a while per my RD's suggestion, poptarts. Just little "dense" things I could have laying around that would make up the deficit but not take so much (read: any) time to prepare that I'd be able to push off eating again.

    Ooof. EDs are a tricky, tricky beast-- I find getting anywhere close to undereating makes me more prone to eat less later, and so on... So any way you can right yourself after missing a snack/meal, no matter how legit it was to miss it, is probably a good thing.

    1. not projecting at ALL! Normally I am hyperaware of this kind of thing, but the eating/sleep connection had definitely not clicked until you mentioned it. I am not on a formal meal plan per se either, although I tend to eat the same things at approximately the same times every day just because it's easier, I'm boring, and I don't like change. And yeah, meal- or snack-skipping is definitely a cumulative, snowballing process for me; e.g. if I skip one day, I am much more likely to skip the next day, and much less likely to make up the missed calories later. I really like the idea of keeping higher-cal options like poptarts on hand for emergency situations, and REALLY making my minimum daily intake nonnegotiable, regardless of where/when the cals happen. thanks!!

  3. Knowing the factors that trigger your insomnia sounds great! From there, you should start the fixing. It's not going to be easy, but at least you know the root of the problem is. I suggest you go seek professional help, or try acupuncture and other alternative treatments that do not require you to take medicines. Be conscious of living a healthier lifestyle.

    -Shavonda @ AvicennaDenver

  4. It really messes up your body when it is accustomed to a certain amount of energy intake and then it is abruptly lessened. Your body will then compensate for it and will eventually exhaust you by the end of the day. I guess that’s where the term “too tired to sleep” comes from. But since you already know what the cause of it is, just try to keep a few snacks handy so you have quick access to it before you think of not eating.