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Tips for guilt-free late-night eating

I'm a chronic insomniac and often take Ambien to get a good night's sleep. While I haven't experienced any bad side effects from periodic long-term use, I can definitely relate to some of the news stories in recent months about people who have reported Ambien-induced late-night eating binges. Remember the congressman who was pulled over for a DWI on the "way to vote at 4 a.m" ? Ambien was his defense.

I grilled out Saturday night, made a mess of my kitchen and left a refrigerator full of leftovers before going to bed. Shortly after 1 a.m., after an hour of tossing and turning, I took an Ambien tablet. The next morning, I was surprised to find a spotless kitchen, laundry washed, folded and put away and no meat in the fridge.

Fully awake, the details flooded back to me. I believe I've figured out that the key to not doing odd things in the middle of the night is to stay in bed after you take your Ambien. Watch TV if you have to. Just don't get up. Or you may find evidence in the morning of a plate of nachos from the night before -- and a clean house if you're lucky.

Here's the good news. A personal trainer told me recently that if you get hungry at 2 a.m., make sure you eat protein. Eliminate easily accessible carbs from your kitchen and pantry and you'll wake up no heavier the next morning.


roadskater's picture

Wish I Could Wake Up to a Mysteriously Clean House!

Hey maggie may, I'm sorry I haven't replied on the site before, having emailed and talked instead. I've always wondered about Ambien and the other newer sleep aids.

I know if I take a standard sleeping pill from the drug store, once in a very great while, I may not feel sleepy for awhile, and I may sleep OK, but the next day it's like I have weights attached to my brain and body. So I usually stay away from those pills and try to regulate sleep by exercising during the day and by taking advantage of the first round of sleepiness when it comes if I can. If I make it through the early sleepiness by getting interested by or agitated about something, even something happy, it might be hours before I am ready to stop whatever I am doing and sleep.

It might be interesting to try such a sleep aid that seems to be designed to work but not stay in the body as long. Still, the stories of people getting up and doing things they don't remember are at the same time funny and scary, of course. I wonder if I would go out skating!

I think like you said, the trick is to take the Ambien when ready to sleep (like the commercials say, something like, "for eight hours") and not to get up again. This would be a good rule for without a sleeping pill too! Go to bed and don't get up to fix that thing I didn't think of needing to fix until I went to bed! I find the BBC World Service a nice sleep aid, as it is interesting and different from most other news, but also delivered in a style that is calm and sedate vis-a-vis USAmerican news programs.

With cable internet but not cable television, I also find the videos on the New York Times to be interesting and calmly narrated enough to be an educational sleep aid as well. Check out http://video.on.nytimes.com/ for some interesting stuff with a no razzle-dazzle delivery.

I've tried watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, but sometimes I laugh too much and it wakes me. Once after a really long skate I think I fell asleep laughing at Colbert do the bit about the people building the ark who had two of many animals but only one camel...and his admonition not to bring that camel hair coat, no matter how good it looks on you.

Anyway, thanks for the funny story of the new grill, the leftovers, and the sleeping pill.

eebee's picture

Brain Stew

Funny story about the laundry, Maggie May! That's one of those 'rather have my teeth pulled' chores. Might as well do it while you're unconscious, eh.

One suggestion for when you can't sleep in the middle of the night, is to try, honestly, to stay awake. But if you secretly know you're trying to stay awake, it adds to the sense of panic and frustration at still being awake, and knowing how much pain you're gonna be in the next day from sleep-deprivation only adds to that at 3am.

It's at times like that I get the Green Day song Brain Stew stuck and blaring out in my brain..."I'm 'avin' trouble tryna sleep..."


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