10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

10 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Tips for better sleepSleep is my favorite thing in the world. Not exaggerating.

When I was younger I “slept like the dead”. I could sleep through any noise at any time of day. When my mom would try to wake me up for school I remember trying with all my might to make her think I was still asleep. She’d tickle my feet, tried to flip me over…nothing worked; I wanted more sleep!

In high school and my first few years of college sleeping until noon was totally the norm for me on a very frequent basis. Yes I was staying up later too but I was consistently trying to get 10+ hours of sleep.

Now I steadily get 7-8 hours a night of sleep and honestly don’t really have too much trouble falling asleep and sleeping throughout the night but last year I was experiencing more trouble than normal falling to sleep and remaining asleep. It was causing me to feel exhausted and worn out all the time.  I did have a lot of stress (wedding plans, honeymoon plans, stressful work, basically life in general) so I began researching ways to get better sleep to help myself.

Sleep is so important to our human functions. I could probably write another blog post just about the benefits and importance of good sleep but you probably already know. Sleep literally affects every aspect of our lives so it’s pretty critical we get enough of it and that it’s good sleep. If you’re not getting enough or it’s not quality sleep, it could be effecting you in ways you don’t even realize.

Here are some of my top tips for better sleep.

1 & 2. Be mindful of your light(s) consumption

This is a big one which is why it takes up both 1 & 2. Before any of us had any technology, our bodies knew when it was time to wake up and when it was time to go to bed from the sun (or lack thereof). This function of our body is called the circadian rhythm. This physiological process is present in all living things; Plants, animals, even bacteria! As a very basic overview light tells the body to create cortisol which helps us wake up and darkness tells us to release melatonin which helps us fall asleep. It’s fail proof and a system that has been working since the beginning of time but the problem is technology is getting us all messed up!

In a perfect world we should be getting sunlight first thing in the morning to wake us up. Who has ever had difficulty waking up on a cold and dark winter morning? Well there’s science behind it! Ideally you would be able to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight first thing in the am. Now I totally know that’s not do-able for everyone whether it is time commitment or the fact that ummm the sun doesn’t shine sometimes until you’re already at work ( 😦 ) but the good news is that you can trick your body into thinking you’re basking in the sunlight! The Wake Up Light can simulate a sunrise in your bedroom. Waking up to gradual light, like a sunrise, is hard-wired into the human brain. As light falls on a person’s eyes, a message is sent to their brain that stimulates production of cortisol, known as the energy hormone. Waking up to dawn simulation has also been proven to help keep a person’s internal body clock in sync. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting better sleep and reducing stress levels – unlike waking up in the dark to a sudden noise like a traditional alarm clock. (source)Wake up lightSo sunlight during the day = good and happy! But sunlight during the evening and night = bad and sad!

You’re probably thinking “I’m not in the sunlight at night”…. But blue light, which is emitted from computer screens, t.v.’s, phones and even some regular light bulbs is perceived by the body as sunlight. We’ve all been there, and I admit I’m a huge culprit of this as well, but when you can’t sleep or you’re getting ready for bed, what do you do? Grab your phone for one final glance through Instagram or read a chapter off your e-reader, right? Well this is wreaking havoc on your internal functions.

Again I understand that for some people it’s not fathomable to not watch tv, look at your phone, or stay in a dark closet until bed time. There’s another hack to trick your body, enter these dead sexy blue light blocking orange hued glasses.snapchat-4044737589180572841.jpgThe second you put them on you can almost feel your eyes and brain relax. But if you have a hard time picturing wearing these bad boys all the time you can try diming your lights after sunset, diming your computer screen or even purchasing a blue light blocking screen protector.

Another note on this is that I’m a big believer of no TV’s in the bedroom. Your bed should be a place for sleep and sex, nothing else! It goes without saying that watching TV before you go to bed and or having it on “in the background” while you are trying to go to bed is really messing up your brain and your bodies sleep signals.

  1. Limit Caffeine & Alcohol consumption

Probably pretty obvious but caffeine makes you feel awake (even if you don’t think it “perks you up” it keeps your body from properly recognizing adenosine which is what makes your body determine sleepiness. Every one metabolizes caffeine at different rates but it’s important to realize your unique caffeine cut off time during the day (and stick to it!!!). Similarly, alcohol might make you feel sleepy but it actually provides a pretty crappy night of sleep, reducing your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which never really allows your body to get into the deep sleep rhythm and leads to you being woken up more easily throughout the night.

Here you can see how long caffeine truly can stay active in your system:Caffeine Half Life

  1. Sleepy Time Tea Drink

Warm drinks can help us relax especially when it’s packed with herbs and ingredients proven to help us sleep. My go to is a chamomile tea but there are lots of un-caffeinated blends on the market. I typically add at least one add in or sometimes all of the following:

  • Gelatin and collagen peptides are not only shown to help relax you because of the high levels of glycine but also improve your quality of sleep because of the amino acids. And extra bonus they help sooth your digestive tract, and nourish your hair, skin, and nails! This is the product I use; it dissolves in both hot and cold liquids which I love.
  • Turmeric contains curcumin which has been proven to help with a whole host of health benefiting things but namely here, sleep!
  • Honey because it’s delicious but also because of the immune system support but most importantly here because it’s been shown to help improve sleep. (source) I always use local raw honey.
  1. Pink Noise

We’ve all probably heard of white noise but what the **** is pink noise? Basically pink noise is white noise that has been filtered to be less harsh and easier on the ears. LOTS of studies have shown that exposure to pink noise helps regulate your brain waves which allows for a super restful night of sleep. HERE is a YouTube clip of pink noise, take a listen, close your eyes for a minute and tell me you don’t feel more relaxed! They even have apps that you can download that can play for a set amount of time to help you drift off to sleep. (Android, iPhone)

  1. Boost your magnesium levels

Magnesium is the 3rd most prevalent mineral in the human body (after calcium and phosphorus) and helps fuel >300 biochemical reactions in our day to day life. You may be deficient in magnesium if you experience the following: irritability/anxiety, loss of appetite, nausea, general weakness, muscle cramps, problems falling and staying asleep, to name a few (source). If you are particularly stressed or dealing with a stressful life event your body actually needs more Magnesium!

My recommended way to get more Magnesium is through your diet.  Foods rich in Magnesium include dark leafy greens such as Chard, Kale, and Spinach; Nuts & Seeds such as Pumpkin/Pepitas, Almonds, Sesame Seeds, and Cashews; Fish such as Mackerel, Tuna or Pollock; Beans & Lentils namely Kidney, Pinto, Garbanzo; Whole Grains including brown rice, Quinoa, Bulgar, and Wild Rice and some other random favorites are Avocados, Bananas, Figs, and Dark Chocolate.

You can also absorb Magnesium through your skin by rubbing magnesium oil onto your skin before bed here’s my recommended brand.Foods-High-in-Magnesium

  1. Aromatherapy

No I’m not about to send you to a link to purchase essential oils from me because you have no idea how much better your life can be with them…….. BUT I do think that essential oils can play an important role in your life and the quality of the oils does matter. It’s been proven that certain scents can have an effect on your mood and mental state. In the very least they smell good and help create a cozy atmosphere that will help calm and relax you. I have this small diffuser that I have on my bedside table. You can find more info here but some of my favorite relaxing and sleep improving oil blends for diffusing are:Essential Oils for Better Sleep

  1. Grounding

Now this one might be the “weirdest” one on the list but grounding, or earthing, is a very basic principal. Essentially the theory or idea is that our bodies are meant to touch the earth on a regular basis. Think of it as skin to skin contact with mother earth. Positive electrons in the form of free radicals build up within our bodies and when we come into contact with and touch the actual earth, it balances us out because the earth holds a negative grounding charge. Each of the cells in our bodies have electrical energy (more than ever before with wifi and mobile phones all around us!) and we basically just store high amounts of positive electrons until we can release them onto a negatively charged material or more like exchange them for negatively charged electrons..

We come into contact with the earth less than you may think. We walk around in rubber shoes on cement all day long! It’s important to take your shoes and socks off, sit in the grass, swim in the ocean, climb that tree, and touch the earth! Numerous studies prove its overall health benefits, and one of which includes better sleep.

  1. Chill out!

Chill out has two meaning here. First let go of your “to do” lists and second, lower the temperature of your sleeping environment.

If you feel overwhelmed by your day to day stressors and all the things you need to be doing, it’s common sense you won’t feel relaxed and you’re mind will be racing thinking of all your life’s “problems”. A number of studies show a positive correlation between meditation or relaxation practices and better sleep. I love listening to calming meditative music or the pink noise listed above to unwind and clear my mind.

For the temperature aspect, I don’t know about you but I love to sleep when it’s slightly cold in my room and even find that I sleep better. When I was a kid and had a bed next to a window I’d open it even in the winter to feel the cool air while I slept. Something about it is refreshing and relaxing at the same time. Now that I’m older I realize there’s science behind it!

When we go to sleep our bodies core temperature goes down (only a small amount). Our bodies have a “set point” which is the temperature our body tries to maintain, basically our internal thermostat. If we make it harder for our body to achieve the set point, such being too hot or too cold, then our body struggles to get to the sleeping “set point” (I’m totally generalizing but you can read specifics here). The ideal sleep environment temperature is between 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit, and can vary from person to person. I think my ideal is  62.

However take caution and make sure that you aren’t experiencing cold extremities (hands and feet) as it requires your body to work harder to regulate and redistribute heat throughout your body and can interrupt the release of melatonin which plays a big part in your sleep cycle.Ideal Sleep Temperature

  1. Stretch & Yoga

This is good for your health on many levels. It’s physical activity, it helps you relax, and it can lead to a more comfortable night’s sleep. If you happen to have a job where you sit all day (join the club, it sucks) then this can be particularly useful. Now you don’t really want to work up a sweat, you’re trying to relax and wind down after all, but move through the poses slowly and methodically, and try not to zonk out in childs pose 🙂

Nicole at Pumps&Iron.com has some really great stuff on her site and I highly encourage you to check it out but in particular she has a great before bed stretching routine that I use frequently.

before-bed-stretching-routineSo there you have it! My favorite tips for a more restful and better night’s sleep. You do NOT have to do all of these but even just trying one or two and seeing if they can help you could mean a world of difference.

Are there some I missed? What are your favorite tips for better sleep? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo

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Product Rave Deodorant

Product Rave- Deodorant

ALWAYSSUMMER

Wooooaahhhh. You guys. It’s been so long since I’ve posted! And there have been 1000 reasons and excuses, none of which anyone really cares about but to sum it up: 50 days from today I get married!!!  Crazy.

I even planned ahead for this crunch time and drafted extra posts for the blog, and still failed! Sheesh.

But I fell in love with a product and I couldn’t go one more week without sharing it with all of you- seriously, in love.

As a lot of you know I try really hard to use “clean products” for my beauty and personal care routine. What does that even mean? Basically I look for products that are nontoxic and don’t have chemicals or known harmful ingredients.

Many people spend a lot of time and money and effort to monitor what they put IN their bodies without giving much thought to what they put ON their bodies. The skin is the largest organ in our body and it only takes something like 26 seconds for what you put ON your skin to be absorbed and can be detected in your blood stream. And I’ve also read that absorption rates on our faces and scalps are 5-10 times higher than on other parts of our body. Scary stuff!

Anyway, one of the products that I’ve been leery of for quite some time (but up until recently couldn’t find a healthy alternative) was deodorant/antiperspirant. It’s a pretty common fact now that traditional deodorants, and specifically antiperspirants containing aluminum, are bad for you and have been linked to a number of nasty illnesses and side effects  (cancer, enlarged lymph nodes, list goes on….)

I had decided last year to ditch the antiperspirant deodorants and go a more natural route. This included trying the “crystal”, trying baking soda/enzyme sticks from those ‘natural stores’ and other nontoxic options. Nothing really worked. I mean sure it worked but I’d still sweat a lot and it would smell somewhat bad under there pretty quick, almost mildewy (gross I know- sorry) and also it was really hard to get over the “wet” feeling you’d get upon application.

Armpits

ME- with all other natural deodorants 😉

 

Sidetrack: one of the resources I use to help me shop around for products is an app called Think Dirty. You can check it out here.  Basically it lets you scan the barcode on any product you have at home or see in the store and it will give you a rating from their database on “cleanliness” ie if the ingredients are toxic, if any have been linked to cancer etc…. so I use it frequently and I love it. I’ll note that they are adding new products all the time. I can’t imagine the time and organization it must take to have each and every item in the world there, but not everything I try to scan shows up- be patient.

Anyway, one of the features is that if a product you scan is “dirty” it will offer you cleaner alternatives. I scanned my current deodorant at the time (just curious) and it popped up a yellow (not great, but not aweful) and it showed me some suggestions. One of them was my new love, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. I checked it out and read all the reviews with a little skepticism- I mean everyone was literally singing their praises for this stuff from the rooftops and from what I knew about natural deodorants, how could it possibly be that great? By some grace of god I talked myself into giving it a try, maybe I’m a shopping addict? Maybe I was desperate?  Maybe both? I don’t know, but I’m glad I did. I couldn’t make up my mind on what scent to order; there are five options. So I found a travel size 5 pack on Etsy and thought that was a great (and cost effective!) option to try them out before I fully commited.

I used it the first day I got the stuff and haven’t turned back since. You guyyyysssssssssssss all the reviews were right. This stuff is a miracle in a jar.

*It feels dry to the touch right away.

*Keeps you dry.

*Keeps you smelling nice.

*Lasts through workouts.

*Lasts through HOT MUGGY weather.

*Smells awesome.

girl-jumping-in-the-air

Me so happy that my deodorant works 🙂 haha

 

I’ll warn you right now, it might take you a little while to get over the application. You basically use a little scooper to get a little pea sized amount out of the jar, and then apply it to your pits with your fingers. Personally, that didn’t bother me at all, but Jake still gives me weird looks when he sees me doing it. My favorite scent is a tie between lavender + sage and bergamot + lime. But I love them all and actually just rotate through the scents occasionally. I gave the unscented one to my mom since she likes unscented and I don’t, and now she is hooked too! She’s a really un-sweaty person (why wasn’t that gene passed on to me????) and says she can wear it for two days at a time without smelling.

If you have been struggling with your natural deodorant options or have been considering making the change to a natural alternative- YOU NEED TO CHOOSE THIS ONE! You seriously will not be disappointed- I promise.

Hope you are all doing well and staying happy and healthy and enjoying life! I’m so sorry again for leaving you all hanging for > a month!! I’d say it won’t happen again but fo’ realzzzzz this wedding biz is a lot to handle!!! I hope I’ll be keeping you updated as things start to really come together!

xoxo

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Spaghetti Squash Vegetable Bake

Spaghetti Squash Vegetable Bake

IMG_2360

I hadn’t tried spaghetti squash until this past winter. I was soooo skeptical that it was just soooo easy to cook like everyone said. How in the world could it just string apart like that?!? It HAS TO BE some sort of special technique that people are under playing, has to be, c’mon how could it be easy?! Well I finally decided to give it a try and I’ll be damned- it’s freaking easy! Seriously you heat it and it use a fork to scrap out the insides and it’s just like noodles. I even told Jake they were a special kind of noodle in an attempt to get him to eat them- he believed me but even once I told him the truth, he STILL liked it! If you haven’t tried it people, you MUST! This is a great recipe to ease into the squash because there are so many other flavors, but I sometimes just eat the squash alone. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 whole spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
16 ounces tomato sauce
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Cut the squash in half length wise (be careful), place in a microwave safe dish and cook in the microwave for eight to 12 minutes until soft. If you don’t have a microwave, place the squash halves on a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. While that’s cooking, add the oil, garlic, pepper, zucchini, and carrots to a pan, cooking over medium heat.
    3. Once the squash is done ( and I let it cool a bit so you don’t burn the sh*t out of your hands) use a fork and scrape the flesh from the peel. It should flake off easily in strings, resembling spaghetti. Place the spaghetti squash flesh in an oven safe casserole dish. Add the cooked veggies, diced tomato, sauce, and most of the cheese and mix well. Sprinkle leftover cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
    4. Allow to cool for five minutes, serve, and enjoy! I also added some chopped basil on top, but thats just because I’m obsessed with it 🙂

Thanks for checking out my blog!

-G