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The sleep experiment

Last week I finished the final edits on The History of the Medieval World and celebrated by feeding myself some brain candy. Hey, if I don’t read Glamour occasionally, how will I ever know what color nail polish to wear with my little black dress, or why Katie Holmes “Loves Her Life”?

So I ran across this, from “Lose Weight While You Sleep“:

At least two dozen studies have documented that people tend to weigh more if they sleep less, says Sanjay Patel, M.D., a researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In a 16-year study of almost 70,000 women, Dr. Patel and his colleagues found that those who slept five hours or less a night were 30 percent more likely to gain 30-plus pounds than those who got more rest. In fact, some experts believe lack of sleep is one reason for America’s obesity epidemic. The average woman gets six hours and 40 minutes of sleep most nights, according to the National Sleep Foundation—much less than the seven-and-a-half-hour minimum our experts say healthy women need.

What exactly is the sleep-weight connection? Science shows that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on hormones that control appetite, cravings and the metabolism of fat.

I can’t actually remember a time in my life when I got that much sleep on a regular basis. You know how it is: when work presses in on you, you stay up late or get up early. I’ve spent years getting five or six hours of sleep a night.

I know perfectly well that if I get seven and a half or eight hours of sleep a night, I think more clearly, write better stuff, enjoy my life more, and have more patience with the kids. How shallow is it that the prospect of losing five pounds has suddenly convinced me to try to change my sleep habits?

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, this is a good time for me to tackle a major scheduling challenge shift, because the massive medieval history manuscript has gone off and the only time-sensitive thing I’ve got to do for it now is clear the permissions (that will be a whole different blog post). So for the last five days, I’ve set my alarm for eight hours after I turn off my light.

I can see this is going to take some work. I like to get up before the kids, so that means I’ve got to turn my light off earlier, and…when you home school and are with your wonderful, lovely, precious children all day long, you tend to look forward to those evening hours because the kids are in bed.


As the article remarks, finding more time to sleep isn’t easy, and although I’m enjoying my longer nights I’m not sure how well I’ll do with this experiment once another deadline looms. But I’ll keep you posted.

Also if I lose some incredible amount of weight, I can change careers and become a model and then I won’t have to clear the permissions for the History of the Medieval World.