What to Do About Nighttime Eating and Insomnia
One of the biggest challenges facing today’s driven business professionals—entrepreneurs, executives, and managers, let alone people in general, is the demand to be “on” all the time. Nighttime eating and insomnia, a seemingly innocuous binge on food and technology to cope with the effects of this daily overexertion at the end of the day is a result, and it’s taking its toll.
Unexpected deadlines pop up, from the CEO to the Soccer Mom (and sometimes these are the same people). Our interconnected world means working with people all over the world and international client calls have to happen. Presentations have to get finished so the next day’s sales can be made and the only way you can get it all done is to work later into the evening.
Then, just as you wrap up at maybe 10:00 or 11:00, maybe even the stroke of midnight (or later), you finally get a chance to eat and eat you do; making up for all the food you didn’t eat during the day.
You then, collapse into bed with a full stomach, only to lie there wide awake, your body digesting, your mind racing, and unable to fall asleep as you steadily face what feels like an increasing tsunami of fatigue that can make you yawn so intensely, if you didn’t know better, you would think an alien was going to come out of your chest. Or, perhaps you fall right to sleep only to wake up in 2 hours in the same situation.
Stress can be a great performance enhancer. But the stress of working so intensely and too late into the evening to boot comes at a cost and that cost is coping with food, wine, and TV to buffer your oncoming fatigue, which is really intense energy recovery… resulting in insomnia at the end of the day.
Stress now turns into distress.
You would think that because you have tired yourself out and built up a high level of fatigue, you would fall right asleep, but it just doesn’t happen.
Frankly you’re too tired to fall asleep. It happens, and it’s because extreme fatigue (energy recovery) is uncomfortable.
You’re left proverbially counting sheep as you stare at the ceiling, and ironically, feel the urge to turn on Netflix, YouTube or other, maybe resolve even more tasks for tomorrow and it could mean hours of continued insomnia when you really want to be asleep.
All of this is caused by a combination of several factors including the high levels of stress hormones still in your system, the exposure to the blue light emitted from your laptop and the house lights, and your active problem-solving mind being stuck in overdrive.
Trumping all of the above is simply the fact that you have over-exerted during the day and for too long, you need time to buffer and it just doesn’t jive with your schedule. You need to be asleep at this time to wake up at least remotely refreshed and you just can’t.
But it’s just a little nighttime eating and insomnia right?
Well, this seemingly innocuous problem is not as harmless as you think.
Truthfully, it could be one of the biggest performance and productivity killing, health destroying, quality of life annihilating patterns in your life that causes low energy, weight gain and poor health, and gives rise to poor decision making… that can compromise your career, your business etc and debit your longevity.
So what do you do about end of day eating and insomnia?
Here are some go-to strategies for when you absolutely need to work late into the evening is critical for optimizing your performance and getting the performance-enhancing sleep you need.
So what do you do about end of day eating and insomnia?
Here are some go-to strategies for when you absolutely need to work late into the evening is critical for optimizing your performance and getting the performance-enhancing sleep you need. Here are a few to try:
- Commit to a definite “tech and mind down” deadline – this can prevent you from working what is already way past the productive time when you are putting in 1 hour of work for only 20 minutes of return.This may seem counterproductive at first, but once you new weekly patterns takes route, your wakeful hours will be “10x’d” so-to-speak so you’ll be able to stop when you need to.
- Shut your brain off by capturing what’s on your mind (write them down or record them) the key tasks to be accomplished next in your life, open issues to be resolved and questions you need to answer so that you know where you are going to start the next day.It’s amazing to know the first thing you need to accomplish in the morning and wake up directed ready to take on the key thoughts you need to expand upon. It’s also a profound skill to be able to let go and sink into who you really are from where you really come from and that is not immersed in tomorrow’s worldly tasks.
- Put yourself into the proper autonomic nervous system position to sleep by doing 5 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing at a ratio of a 4-count inhale, a 7-count hold, and an 8-second exhale.Simply put, you’ve got to change your state, shift your mode and establish the right conditions for you to sleep and sleep deeply. There is more too this.
- Use light to your advantage. Light just 15 minutes before bedtime can reduce your natural melatonin release by up to 50%. This means when you want to be up and alert, turn the lights on fully. But at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep, dim the lights, dim your computer screen (f.lux and “night shift” on an iOS device), and provide yourself with some no computer time so you can stimulate the release of melatonin.This is entirely possible if you can break the pattern that I spoke of above and that’s what learning how to stop feeling fatigued all the time and increase your energy in ways that will marvel you will do. When you learn the 5 steps to a lifetime of sustainable authentic energy as the primer to healthy performance lifestyle practice, the issues you are reading about in this post will dissipate and when they happen, how to effectively recover.
- Avoid sugar when working late – this will provide immediate energy but a subsequent crash. It’s time we all come to our senses, and ingest a major dose of reality. Energy does not come from refined and added sugars, or even stimulants for that matter. I’m not talking about what genuinely fuels the body, I’m talking about what powers it.The personal energy people are suffering from the lack of, has less to do with food and exponentially more to do with the vital energy that is absorbed from the universe itself.
Every once in a while, all the stars align (stress from a deadline, high focus, creativity, passion and energy) and you find yourself ultra-productive. On these nights, we say rev it up and ‘go for it’ but also be highly aware of when you reach the point where the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
The law of diminishing returns is based on the available life force to put forth towards what you’re up to. When your ambition outpaces your body’s ability to restore the life force, your ability to function diminishes. It’s a vital energy issue.
The key is to stay strategic (this means strategy in terms of your lifestyle) and to not trade off one night of productivity for 2 days of fatigue. This is essential to healthy performance and performance is a lifestyle.
When you do make that trade off, just be prepared to deal with it accordingly so that you avoid nighttime eating and insomnia.