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Captain Obvious Says: Sleep Deprivation Causes Sugar Cravings

Posted Jul 28 2009 11:16pm
This comic is the first in a series drawn by professional comic and GFE reader N8 (sound it out) especially for The Great Fitness Experiment! I can't tell you how excited it makes me that I have my own illustrator - I'd put it on my business card if I had any. Look for more funnies from him in the future!

It all started with a bag of sugar-dusted gummi fruit and a handful of chocolate chips. Well, actually it started last night when I stayed up until 1 a.m. working on my book. Okay, technically it started last weekend when my son got sick and had me up five times a night. Or maybe it all began 6 months ago when I got pregnant and morphed into a sleep camel. No wait, I suppose it really started 7 years ago when my first child was born. Whatever. My point: I am severely sleep deprived.

Insomnia is not my problem - I'm practically a narcoleptic triggered by pillows - it's just that nobody around here wants to let me sleep. But today has been worse than normal. After clocking just four short hours of sleep, I was up for the day with a two-year-old who thinks just because dawn happens around 5 a.m. that that means the day starts at 5 a.m. Puberty will fix that, I'm sure, but in the meantime I'm stumbling around the house in a fog trying to remember if I have to cook Cheerios.

As I sat down to eat my totally unappetizing breakfast of oatmeal and egg whites, the first craving hit. I wanted candy. The straighter the sugar, the better. "Ah," my brain quickly observed, "you are exhausted and so you are seeking the sweet sweet love of simple carbs!" My brain is smart. My flesh? Not so much. I grabbed a gummi orange, licking the sugar off my fingertips. "Don't do it!" my brain screamed. "Don't fall for his slick come-on! He'll lift you up just to drop you like a rock once the fun is over! It's the carbohydrate version of a booty call!" My eldest smacked his brother who retaliated by throwing a fork. The baby cried. I bit into the candy slice. "It'll only make you feel good for a second! And then you'll feel like crap." What a rush! "Remember what happened last time you did this!" my brain cried frantically in one last ditch effort to save me from myself. "It doesn't have to be this way!" I ate the candy. "You slut."

Sure enough, I rode the blood sugar coaster of doom all morning long, barely making it through my body pump class and then home again where I decided I would atone for my confectionery transgressions with a healthy lunch. Plans changed however when a dear friend who moved out of the country last year showed up for a surprise visit. The afternoon quickly passed with much laughter but without food. By the time she left I was cross-eyed with weariness. I put the early-rising munchkin down for a nap and then crashed myself. Only to be woken up 20 minutes later by the elder two fully dressed in swimsuits, goggles and grins. "Swim lessons!" they screamed. They were right. Curse the teacher who taught them how to tell time.

I dragged out of bed and changed into my suit. (Side note: hell is shopping for a maternity swimsuit. What is with all the skimpy bottoms? Do they think just because we can't see our thighs anymore that we'll somehow forget to look in a mirror? I hate you Liz Lange.) Then I dragged the baby out of bed which did not please him one little bit. By the time I'd gathered all the gear necessary to take 4 people swimming (incidentally also the same amount of gear required by the Swiss Army to invade Lichtenstein), I was ravenous and ready to sleep standing up. But we were late!

What's a healthy snack to grab on the go? Almonds? Fruit? Jerky? Gummi candies and chocolate chips of course! I guilty washed it down with a piece of cheese one of my kids had left on the table from lunch. My fate was sealed. Today had officially become a Jelly Bean Day. In case you missed the festivities last time around, the celebration of all things sugar lasts all day finally culminating in a grand symphony (candy bar pun intended) of screaming, crying and then a sugar coma.

I should know better. I knew exactly why I was craving all that sugar - everyone knows that being tired give you the sugar shakes. And I knew exactly what I should have done to remedy the situation - eat a meal with protein and healthy fat and take a nap). I even knew exactly what was going to happen because of my actions. So why didn't I do the right thing? Apparently being tired also makes me a poor decision maker.

Help me feel better - have you ever torpedoed your healthy goals, fully aware of what you were doing and yet you did it anyhow? What do you crave when you're tired? What do you do to avoid having a Jelly Bean Day?
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