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Sleeping and Eating

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I hear people say that it is important to eat whenever you are hungry, but I never hear that we should sleep whenever we are sleepy. We discipline ourselves to sleep at appropriate times, that was the first thing our parents trained us to do. I know I trained my babies to sleep at night as soon as possible so I could sleep myself. No one questions this. Yet the eating patterns are always debated.

When I was little, we ate three times a day, and we little ones got one snack in the afternoon while Mom drank coffee. Which she drank out of a cup and saucer while sitting down (how old fashioned!) Feeding the family was a lot of work, so three times a day took a lot of time, planning and preparation. There just simply wasn't a way for a kid to say "I'm hungry" and have Mom pull out the pans and make a snack. Teeny tiny babies ate on demand, but weaning involved trying to get them on a schedule that conformed to family rhythms, which was as close to 3 times a day as possible, as soon as possible. When we started school, we weren't allowed to eat during class so we HAD to wait until lunchtime. It was expected and we had no choice but to figure out how to comply. Even the athletes who needed more food had to wait until lunch. Many thousands of years ago when our ancestors were hunter gatherers, they ate all day while gathering. Once cooking became the norm, we ate when cooked food was available, and it just isn't possible to prepare food for constant eating.

I wonder when the idea of grazing all day long came into being? We certainly don't nap off and on all day. Both are biological functions that have to fit into our modern days. Some of us who have problems sleeping at night don't just say "I'm tired" and go to sleep anytime. Try that one on your boss. We try whatever it takes to sleep as much at night as possible, to be able to fit our lives into the ordinary modern day.

I eat three meals a day because that is what that 24 hour day, sunup to sundown, demands of me. If everything you eat has to start standing at a stove followed by washing up, rather than reaching for a box or a package, 3 times would look pretty good.

To me my meal discipline and my sleeping patterns are two sides of the same coin: the 24 hour day.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I like the comments as much as the thought-provoking blog. It's interesting that we've found what works for us. For me, I "graze" through the afternoon with snacks of fresh fruits and veggies, a small can of V-8, and a small yogurt. It keeps me from raiding the snack machine. Even with that, most of my calories are consumed with dinner, and I won't go to bed hungry, because I hate it.

    On sleeping, I regularly nod off on the bus ride part of my afternoon commute, but I can't seem to fall asleep on the bus in the morning, even if I've gotten only 4 hours of sleep. I wish my agency were progressive enough to recognize that a 10 or 20 minute "combat nap" would make me more productive than fighting sleepiness, but such is not to be. I've had only one boss that encouraged us to put our heads down when we needed to, but in this era of all open offices and cubbies, we can't just shut the door and shut our eyes.
    1666 days ago
    Great Blog Nell and so very true.
    1668 days ago
    Hmmm... Interesting way of thinking about eating patterns. Raw foods (which are better anyway) are easy to have available for grazing if that is how your body likes to get it's fuel. Not all food requires cooking and washing up. That is all a part of maintenance, I think. Just like we all find the ways that work best for us to lose weight, we must find the best way to maintain our healthy weight as well.

    I have always been so lucky with sleep. My body feels best when I go to sleep at 11pm and wake at 7am... but my job requires me to get up just a bit earlier so I adjust. But I rarely wake up in the night. No naps for me. But that is just what works best for me.

    Eating is another story. I have a voracious appetite and tend to want to eat all the time. Working on basically 3 meals a day with an occasional snack at 4 or 5pm so that I am not famished when I get home to make dinner. Now, I just need to figure out how to keep those dinners lighter!

    Keep on keepin' on! You are a role model!
    1669 days ago
    There have actually been some Anthropological theories that Humans weren't designed to sleep through the night as we force ourselves to. As I recall the theory suggests that we're meant to wake up part way through the night, have a small meal, some adult bedtime activities then return to sleep. As well as have a nap sometime during the day. Of course with society and culture came restrictions on time and the need to conform which has resulted in what we have today. Including a lot of sleeping disorders. Every body is designed differently. I say, find what works best for your body and your lifestyle and go for it!
    1669 days ago
    I eat such small portions that I will have a morning snack and afternoon snack. It might be a baby carrot, fat free vanilla wafers(2) or fruit.
    It is good that you have such discipline.
    1669 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Good point . . . I usually eat three meals a day, much as you say we were trained to do. Once in awhile DH and I will have something sweet around 9 PM, but that is occasionally, and not the norm. I do get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and if I'm really tired, 9 hours.
    1669 days ago
    This is some good thinking. I eat 4 times a day, but I usually have dinner at about 6 and that's it. If I stay up until after 11, I get to go to bed hungry.

    I think the main thing that happened is people want to manage their weight without feeling any discomfort. Or at least, the people selling them diets want them to think this will be possible on their plan.
    1669 days ago
    I've just been thinking about the "constant grazing" thing myself: what a nice analogy with the sleeping.

    Must say, when I see people wandering around with water bottle ever at hand, I have thought about babies with bottles on constant feed mode . . .
    1669 days ago
    Interesting, Nell.

    1669 days ago
    I eat three regular meals a day (smaller ones except for lunch) and three planned healthy snacks or mini meals a day. It's what I found worked for me and it works perfectly with my schedule. Sleep is another story, I definitely don't nap, but I don't sleep as much as I should either, something to work on!
    1670 days ago
    What an interesting way of looking at things -- I never thought of it in these terms! I remember one semester in high school, my schedule was such that I had lunch at 10:30am two days a week and 12:30pm the other three. I found it difficult to deal with it, but there was never any idea that I would do anything but deal with it. There was no eating outside of our designated lunch period, no vending machines, no snack break.
    1670 days ago
    I, too, do best on a regular food schedule. In my opinion this snack in between, or eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day is asking for trouble.
    And while I also agree with your take on sleep I have to admit that an afternoon nap here and there is one of my guilty pleasures :)
    1670 days ago
    1670 days ago
    Remind yourself to eat right!
    1670 days ago
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