We’re Already In a Zombie Apocalypse, And It’s Making Us Fatter
When I was growing up, I was the guy who fell asleep in the back of the class. This started as early as thirteen years old or so. And it wasn’t the result of narcolepsy or any other sleep condition. It was initially because I would often stay up late reading and would go to school in a barely lucid state. And later in my college years, it was because I would at times be up a bit too late partying. The introduction of alcohol is probably why I gained a few pounds in college. And those late nights resulted in a lot of sleep deprivation.
One particular morning when I emerged from the dorm bleary-eyed and a little worse for wear (perhaps more than a little), some of my classmates derided me as the “Walking Dead Guy”. I spent a few too many days in college half-awake like this, staggering around campus. And the lack of sleep that causes this sort of zombified behavior has been a constant challenge in my life.
Now that I’m a CPA, I’ve discovered that copious quantities of the brown water of life can compensate for this. But I recently discovered something more horrible than the specter of nuclear war from the shirtless neo-czar causing trouble in Eastern Europe. Worse than the real-life Captain Trips virus that mutates so often we may run out of Greek letters. Worse than the planet gaining so much CO2 that it develops Venusian atmosphere and burns/crushes us. Or at least has more serious hurricanes. And that is…too much coffee may be causing me to gain weight.
I know, you’re thinking “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), how does coffee cause you to gain weight. One cup has maybe three calories. Unless it’s one of those Sugar-Laden Diabetes Festivals you get at Starbucks!” And you’d have a good point. It’s not really the coffee that’s causing this. It’s the fact that the coffee, even though it keeps me awake after a night of lost sleep, tends to disrupt my sleep the next night.
According to what I’ve seen, it takes your body about six hours to process the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Which is probably why scientists suggest stopping coffee after 2 or 3 o’clock, if you’re one of those types who goes to sleep by 9 o’clock or so. Also known as farmers or losers. But I have a hunch that if you’re someone who drinks large cups and more than say, eight, (not naming names, mostly to avoid incriminating myself), it may take longer to shake off the effects. At least, that’s my personal experience. Everybody’s body works a little differently, and mine seems to struggle going to sleep if I downed more than 6 to 8 cups of the stuff in a day. Which is almost every day.
There are a lot of ways insufficient sleep can make you gain weight. Lack of sleep slows your metabolism. So your resting caloric burn is lower. It also affects the hormones that affect your appetite. These include Leptin, which tells you you’re full, and Ghrelin, which tells you you’re hungry and, appropriately, sounds vaguely like the sound a ravenous animal would make. Lack of sleep also stresses you out and stressed out people often eat to cope. Usually the wrong things, like dessert or other sugary things. So in addition to the direct metabolic effects, the indirect effects of stress eating can cause you to blow up like a balloon.
And there’s another thing men must worry about. It affects our testosterone levels. A great deal of testosterone is released when we sleep and losing a couple of hours per night can seriously affect that. And low testosterone is something that makes it harder to lose weight. Sure, I can increase T-levels by lifting heavy things, but it’s so much easier to just sleep a full 7 or 8 hours every night.
But that’s not the real thing guys are worried about when we hear “low-T”. There’s a much more important reason I’m focused on getting more sleep. One that’s fueled by a far greater force than the need for good health: Vanity. Low-T makes us timid little creatures instead of hardcore go-getters. Insufficient sleep can make us the Sleep-Deprived Virgin as opposed to the Well-Rested Chad. And we all want to be Chads.
So I’m tapering off the coffee. I briefly thought that switching to decaf would help, until I realized that this is an act of apostasy. It’s best to just stop drinking coffee altogether after 3. Naturally, I’m now falling asleep on my desk every day at approximately 3:30. But naps are actually not bad, as long as they don’t last more than 20 minutes or so. Still, I’m hoping this is a temporary problem that will pass.
And another thing I discovered was that alcohol wasn’t just causing me to lose sleep because I was staying up all night. It can seriously disrupt sleep. This is apparently because it’s a sedative, meaning it doesn’t put you to sleep so much as it knocks you out. And that type of sleep isn’t great. Any more than two can ruin sleep. So no more night caps for me. Well, maybe occasionally with the missus, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
Season two of my “Weight Loss Journey” started recently when I noticed a slight gain of weight. I explained how I fell off of the wagon a bit with the diet, and figured out ways to improve my exercise. But this year I’m getting the sleep under control. I’ve gone too many nights with six hours or less, especially during tax season.
For now, it’s an experience. I literally came home and crashed for an hour today. And I’ve noticed that some nights are a little turbulent, causing me to wake up at odd hours. But I have a hunch that this is just an adjustment period. As with the afternoon napping, I hope this is temporary. After a week or two, I’m told this will sort itself out.
And I’m not sure I can go the rest of my life without alcohol (I can, but don’t want to), and I’ve been a constant coffee drinker for over 20 years. But I’m starting to realize that sleep deprivation (a national problem) is likely related to these. So I’m going to behave and see if that helps. It occurs to me I’ve never really behaved in my life, so maybe the novelty of being a good boy will be sufficiently diverting to make the lack of alcohol and caffeine no big deal.
An actual zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen. Unless some nutjob in a lab out there thinks turning the human race into ravening, deathless cannibals is “gain of function.” But apart from that, probably not. But a form of zombie apocalypse has already happened. Resulting in low-T, tired, and increasingly fat people shambling about the United States.
Getting enough sleep shouldn’t be that hard. It requires you to lie in bed until you fall asleep, which requires literally no effort. I mean, if you have insomnia, that’s a separate thing. But the rest of us need to go to bed at a decent hour and get seven or eight hours of sleep. If you get into the habit of turning in early, limiting the coffee and alcohol, and getting a full night’s rest, a lot of your other problems will disappear. The cure for this zombie apocalypse isn’t going to be some screwy concoction devised by a mad scientist in an underground lab. The cure is just the rest of us turning off the television, computers, and phones at a decent hour and hitting the sack.
Originally published at http://drilldowndiet.home.blog on May 24, 2022.