I’ve got a bit of a problem and don’t know what else to try. If you have any ideas on how to help me, I’d love it if you can please share your ideas in the comment box at the bottom…I’ll be checking. Thanks.
What happened to me in the last 7 days?
I’ve had a week of sleep deprivation, due to Fitness junior (aged 6) who has not been sleeping well, and has been waking me up all night long. I usually take the “night shift”, as Mrs Fitness sleeps like a log, but I seem to have super-sensitive hearing, so I sort the kids out.
Mrs Fitness is often so fast asleep that almost nothing will wake her. I remember the time she accidentally locked the front door, so I couldn’t get back in one evening when I was coming back late. I phoned repeatedly, I rang the doorbell and knocked hard on the door. After 15 minutes (and now bursting to have a wee), I climbed over the locked gate into my garden and started banging on the window and shining a torch. It took me another 5 minutes before she emerged!
Anyway, I always tell my training clients about the importance of sleep. You can have a healthy diet, but if you don’t get enough sleep, it will undermine your fat loss attempts. Not only that, but there have been studies showing that reaction times of someone on very little sleep, are the same as a drunk driver. So you can kiss goodbye to a productive work day.
Not only will you burn less fat at night (due to reduced Growth Hormone release during impaired sleep), but you become more insulin resistant, and ultimately more hungry. One of my training clients was always staying up late, and had plateaued on her weight loss—once she gave 8 hours sleep a go, she instantly lost 4 lbs in as many days.
I always prioritise my sleep above everything else. If I have a bad night, I usually try to take a 20 minute nap in the afternoon, between clients. Or I’ll go to bed 1-2 hours earlier than normal to catch up.
I’d had a week of Fitness junior waking me up about 3-4 times a night…Friday was the worst. Fitness junior kept me awake from midnight to 4am! I get up at 5.30 am, as I train clients from 6am, so I only got 4 hours sleep that night.
On Saturday, around lunchtime I suddenly felt ravenously hungry. I don’t mean a little hunger, I mean so hungry that my stomach was eating itself from the inside out. Have you ever felt like that?
It wasn’t as though I’d starved myself for breakfast, as I’d eaten my usual 4 scrambled eggs and 3 cups of vegetables and some cheddar. I made myself my usual lunch, which is a “big ass salad,” including salmon and some grated cheese. It’s usually extremely filling, but this time I felt dissatisfied. I could see my eyes wandering around in the kitchen, thinking what should I eat next…
I managed to distract myself into not eating anything else, but in another hour, I could feel that hunger rising again. Puzzled, I wrote “feeling extreme hunger today” in my food journal, and kept trying to ignore it.
Mrs Fitness was away camping with the Beavers (the youngest section of Scouts), so I was looking after Fitness junior on my own. I only went to bed about an hour earlier on Saturday, as he kept coming down stairs after I put him to bed, and after another evening of being woken up all hours of the night, I again wrote in my food journal “still feeling hungry.” I was still confused, and searching for what could be wrong? Am I eating too little food? It seemed the same as normal. Have I been more active than normal? I didn’t think so.
It was only when I told Mrs Fitness, after she came back from her camping trip on Sunday afternoon, the lightbulb switched on. Of course, it’s exactly what I bang on about to my training clients–all I needed was a nap! And probably much longer than usual this time.
It seems strange to me that I already knew the answer, but because I was so tired, the logic seemed to have gone out the window.
Do you have any ideas to help Fitness junior?
My neighbour Chris, suggested that I might be giving him too much attention at night. Thinking about it, he was probably right. I’d normally be in his room for 5 minutes, imploring him to go back to sleep.
So for the last two days, I’ve been “Mr Boring”…as soon as he comes out of his room and starts shouting, I calmly put him back into bed without saying a single word, and barely look at him, then leave the room. So far it seems to have reduced the number of times he calls out in the middle of the night…but I don’t want to “count my chickens before they’ve hatched.” So I’ll have to wait and see how the next couple of days go. Thanks for the tip Chris.
The next problem I have is him actually settling down for sleep. We normally have the same routine, a snack if still hungry, bath, stories in the bedroom, and then night night.
He’s six years old, and often says “I’ve had a bad dream.” His fear of initially falling asleep, could be the reason it takes 3 hours of calling out. These long summery days are still really bright when he goes to bed around 6.30-7pm, but he still says “I don’t like the dark” every time we put him to bed.
He refuses to sleep without a light on…and will scream continuously if we switch it off. I have explained to him multiple times how bright light stops people from sleeping well, but it he doesn’t accept the idea.
We bought him a dream catcher, but he pulled it off the ceiling and he managed to lose it. We asked him to tell his bunny and cat about the bad dreams, but that doesn’t seem to help.
We also bought him a dream eater, and have put a pencil and paper near his bed. He’s written a few things, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference.
I don’t know what else to try. So if you have ANY IDEAS at all, I’d love to hear from you–please share in the comment box below. Thanks.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom