Sleepy update

I’m a bit sleepy today. I’m on call this week which means our customers can wake me up to deal with problems (I write software for the TV Broadcast industry and if something goes wrong TV channels can go off air), and it seems a lot of different systems had problems last night, so all in all I’ve had about 2hrs sleep.

And this is how I feel.


Psalm 127:2 says

“In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

So the Bible thinks that sleep is good for us, and we aren’t to deprive ourselves of it. But what happens when we do?

One study (here) shows that cortisol levels are elevated the evening after a night of little sleep. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland and released in response to stress. According to Wikipedia:

“Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism”

Another study (which I’ve lost the link for. Sorry!) indicates that raised levels of cortisol may lead to increased insulin resistance and increased appetite. This is probably due to the increased blood sugar as mentioned in the Wikipedia quote. So in the long run, loss of sleep could contribute towards weight gain.

Okay, so you’re tired (well I am anyway) because you’ve missed out on sleep, the one thing most of us do in this case is get a cup of the black wake up juice. But is this the best thing we can do? An interesting article (here) talks about coffee and it’s benefits and risks. It seems that although caffeine can raise our cortisol (again!), it only does this transiently so if we drink it in the morning (when our cortisol is naturally high), then we get away with it provided we aren’t too sensitive or have high blood pressure.

All in all when it comes down to it, sleep is one of the best things we can do if we want to lose or simply manage our weight. I wonder if my boss will let me take a nap?



  1. Emma Hollands · · Reply

    John I am very much enjoying your blog, very interesting. I know we discussed the historical split sleep a few months ago – Would be interested to know what you think…?

    1. The idea that people used to have two periods of sleep before the advent of electric lighting makes sense to me. If you’ve been performing manual labour during the day, come the evening time you’ll have just enough energy to eat and that’s about it, and seeing as its dark and there’s nothing to do you may as well go to sleep, wake up when you’re rested, have sex 🙂 (, or pray or meditate and then go back to sleep (as it will probably still be dark).
      This works in conjunction with the parasympathetic nervous system ( This nervous system is our “rest and digest” nervous system and according to wikipedia it is responsible for “sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion, and defecation”. When we eat a large meal, this brings our parasympathetic nervous system to the fore, this is why we get sleepy after a big meal, so it seems to support the idea of people eating in the evening and then going to sleep straight afterwards.
      The article in wikipedia on segmented sleep indicated that a natural sleep pattern would be a segmented sleep pattern along with a nap during the day.

      I like naps 🙂

      There also seem to be some studies linking memory retention and getting enough sleep.
      On further investigation, it may be true that with electric lighting we’re messing with our circadian rhythm, and disruption of this rhythm has been associated with fatigue, insomnia and bipolar disorder.

      When I think of naps I think of Psalm 23. Lying down in green pastures by quiet waters. Nice.

      I know from my own experience, that I can be tired about 8-9pm, but I generally stay awake until 10pm by which point I seem to “wake up” again, making it difficult for me to get to sleep before midnight, especially if I’ve been doing something mentally stimulating. Also, I seem to be most creative in the morning and less energetic in the afternoon. It would be interesting to follow my own daily rhythm for a period (obviously when I’ve retired 🙂 ) to see how I feel.

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