What Are Microbes?

can 

Many of us know that outside factors such as stress, diet, and exercise can affect sleep, but did you know that microbiomes can also affect it? Microbiomes are ecosystems of ever-changing micro-organisms. The human body contains trillions of micro-organisms, outnumbering human cells 10 to 1. Because of their size though, they only account for 1-3% of body mass. The microbiome is often referred to as our “second brain”, because it has a nervous system and about 100 million neurons. It helps to regulate hormone production, immune system function, appetite, digestion and metabolism, mood, and stress responses. It also produces many of the same neurotransmitters that are needed for sleep, such as dopamine, seratonin, and GABA. Melatonin is also produced in both the brain and the gut. 

Some of the more popular microbes found in the body are in the gut, mouth, and for women in the vagina and through lactation. In fact, when a woman gives birth vaginally, and goes on to exclusively breastfeed her baby, she’s passing on her microbes. It almost becomes like DNA, as every person’s microbes are different and unique. These microbes give baby the good bacteria they need to form a healthy immune system. When the mother is in active labor, and once her waters break, she is passing on the vaginal microbes to baby through the skin and mouth. Then baby passes through the birth canal, again getting more of these good germs. When baby passes by the anus, they are getting mom’s gut microbes (a gross thought, I know, but an important step). Later, when mom breastfeeds her baby, both the skin contact and milk itself passes yet another set of good bacteria to baby. If this isn’t impressive enough, there are sugars in the breast milk that actually seed the infant gut microbe, getting it ready to start the immune system! That means that these sugars don’t have a nutritional value for the baby, other than to feed these good bacteria.

Going back to the topic of sleep, research has recently shown that when we sleep poorly or have fragmented sleep, it starts to affect our gut microbiome. When that happens, there is a significant decrease to the good bacteria, while there are changes to the  micro-organisms which have been linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Along with this, an unhealthy gut can lead to poor sleep and cognitive decline. Some research points to poor sleep possibly leading to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.  Research is also indicating that sleep apnea may have a detrimental effect on the gut microbe that might not be as easy to fix. Research is also showing that depression can also be linked to a lack of certain bacteria in the gut.

We know that stress can affect sleep, but it appears that stress can also affect our gut health. Some research is showing that taking a probiotic containing the bacteria Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (the one found in fermented foods such as yogurt) can help with both sleep and stress. Prebiotics can also be helpful, as these are bacteria strains that are an energy source for those trillion micro-organisms. Because everyone’s microbiomes are different, it’s important to do your research and try things slowly to see how your body reacts. On a personal note, I had to stop giving my 7yr old son probiotics recently because I found that it was the cause of his periodic stomachaches. Again, just be aware that everyone’s body and reactions will be different. 

Diet also plays a role in not only our sleep, but in our microbes. It’s important that you focus on a diet rich in whole, organic foods and avoid fatty, fried foods whenever possible. It can help your gut keep the good bacteria, while reducing the bad ones that can make you sick or cause disease. It can help with things like inflammation, obesity, skin diseases such as psorasis, autoimmune arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and more. Just one more reason why eating healthy is so important! 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can live your best life, then let’s chat! As a Holistic Health & Lifestyle Practitioner, I help people figure things like this out! I can help you create good, healthy eating habits, learn how to meal plan/prep, improve your sleep, increase your activity levels, discuss your relationships that might not be benefiting you, talk about your career choice, or anything else that is currently going on in your life! You’ve got nothing to lose by setting up a free initial phone call with me, but you have a lot to gain!

Are You an Emotional Eater?

For many people, food can be a comforting friend when they’re feeling sad, overwhelmed, anxious, angry, etc. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if they ever craved healthy foods, like fruits or veggies. Nope, people more likely to crave foods that are sweet, salty, high in fat, or high in calories. Why is that?

What we crave often depends on what our needs are in that moment. Maybe you’re hungry because it’s been several hours since your last meal. As long as you don’t wait too long (this is why you want to eat 5-6 smaller meals vs 3 big ones), you should be able to control yourself and eat a more well-balanced meal. However, if you’ve gone 6hrs since your last meal, you’re going to be famished, wanting to eat anything and everything in sight. Let’s face it, the processed, junky foods are usually the easiest to grab, which is when you’ll find yourself demolishing a pack of cupcakes or a bag of chips.

Emotional cravings are a bit different. These happen not because we’re truly hungry, but because we like the way that eating these favorite foods makes us feel. You might find that pizza is your go-to food when you’re stressed or anxious. Or maybe you love chocolate when you’re feeling sad. What if what you’re craving is actually saying something about your feelings or specific emotions?

University Health News has this to say about the 5 top foods craved and what it might mean:

  1. Cheese or a milkshake:  You’re emotional or feeling tense. High-fat dairy products are high in protein and contain the amino acid tryptophan, which aids in the production of melatonin and  serotonin to help us feel more relaxed and sleepy. A 2016 study linked low amounts of tryptophan to a depressed state.
  2. Candy: You’re hungry, tired, stressed, or addicted. If you’re reaching for sweets, it’s really sugar you crave. You could need an energy boost due to lack of food (maybe you’re dieting or skipped breakfast this morning) and your blood sugar is fluctuating. Or, you’re not getting enough sleep. Another possible culprit is stress. Brazilian researchers found that stressed women were more likely to crave sweets. If neither of these are the cause of your craving, you may be a sugar addict. In a study of rats, researchers from Princeton University found that sugar is as addictive as drugs.
  3. Salty chips: You’re stressed. Crunching on something helps relieve stress while you chew. You could also be anemic, which explains your quest for extra salt.
  4. Carbs: You’re depressed or dieting. A study published in the journal Obesity Research found that eating carbohydrates boosts our levels of serotonin (the feel-good hormone), which is why we want them when we’re feeling down. Another reason for carb-loading could be due to dieting. If you’re restricting your carbohydrate intake, it’s not surprising that your body is craving more.
  5. Chocolate: You’re sad, lonely, or stressed. Consuming 500 mg of chocolate a day for 30 days improved feelings of calmness and contentment, according to an Australian study. So, we could be craving it to boost our moods. Others say we crave chocolate as a result of a magnesium deficiency, but this is up for debate.

After reading this, what do you think? Is it true for you? I know for me, I just love chips. Period. End of story. No, I’m not depressed, I just enjoy salt! It’s a bad habit, and one that I would argue is just as addictive as sugar! I’ve had to work hard to find chip substitutes, but you can do it if you’re motivated enough!

I also don’t find myself craving anything if I’m stressed or upset. I actually lose my appetite when I’m feeling blue. I only eat when I’m happy, which is thankfully most of the time! Of course that has its downfalls too. It’s important not to use your happiness as an excuse to eat everything you want either.

Years ago I had to get blood work done quite often during a rough time tied around getting and staying pregnant. I hated doing that blood work (who doesn’t?), so I treated myself to Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, curly fries, and really unhealthy milkshakes after every appointment. Not the best idea! Thank goodness I didn’t have THAT many appointments! You definitely don’t want to do what I did.

Instead, you should look at finding other ways to reward yourself that aren’t food-based. You might buy yourself something new (could be small things like a book, new shirt, etc). It may not feel as good initially, but you’ll feel better about it later when you’re not disgusted about how you would have felt after slamming down a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese.

So what else can you do to limit how much and what you might be eating when you’re feeling emotional?

  • Be aware of why you’re choosing to eat those foods. Are you eating them for the wrong reasons? It’s okay to want a milkshake every now and again. You just don’t want to drink one because you’re upset and that’s the only thing you think will make you feel better. Instead, try working on sorting out your feelings without food. Deal with the anger, sadness, anxiousness, extreme happiness, etc for the emotions they are without bringing food come into the equation.
  • Get plenty of sleep! You will make better food decisions when you’re well-rested. When people have a tough night of sleep, they often find themselves grabbing the first foods they can find (ie processed, pre-packaged, high calorie/fat). Not only do they tend to crave those types of food, but they’re often too tired to think about cooking more nutritious meals.
    • Researchers at Columbia University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which tracks blood flow in the brain, to compare brain activity in 25 volunteers following a normal night’s sleep (about eight hours) and a night in which they were limited to just four hours.
    • In each case, the researchers performed the scans while showing the volunteers images of unhealthy foods interspersed with healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal. Brain networks associated with craving and reward were more active when the participants were sleep-deprived than when they were well-rested—especially when the participants viewed the images of unhealthy foods.
  • Exercise more often! You will find that you’re craving HEALTHY foods after a good workout, walk/run, or just increased activities. Research shows that the highest increase in fruit/vegetable intake occurred for participants who transitioned from inadequate to adequate exercise. An added benefit for sure! 

As you can see, emotional eating can look differently for different people. Some people have never even experienced it! While you can now understand that there is some science behind what you’re craving and why, you don’t want to use this as an excuse to eat an entire bag of chips or a whole tub of ice cream. There are plenty of things you can do to create new, healthy habits!

If you need help getting this done, let’s chat! As a Holistic Health & Lifestyle Practitioner, I help people figure things like this out! I can help you create good, healthy food habits, learn how to meal plan, understand how to read food labels, change your emotional eating habits, improve your sleep, increase your activity levels, discuss your relationships that might not be benefiting you, talk about your career choice, or anything else that is currently going on in your life! You’ve got nothing to lose by setting up a free initial phone call with me, but you have a lot to gain!

9 Reasons You Might Not Be Sleeping Well

Everywhere I go, I run into people who say that they don’t sleep well. The follow up to that is usually, “What can I take to help me sleep all night?” But here’s the thing. You really want to be asking, “What is causing these sleepless nights?” It’s important that you get to the root cause of your sleeplessness, so you don’t have to take something every night. So how do you know what’s causing your insomnia? Let’s take a look at 9 things that might be the reason(s), because they are the keys to our overall wellness.

  1. Sleep Hygiene – Take a good look at your environment to see if you have the ideal sleep situation. Is your room dark enough? Is your room too hot or too cold? Do you have a bed partner (including pets and kids) that is disturbing you? Are you staying off of the electronics at least 30-60mins before bed? All of these things are simple, yet can be very effective!
  2. Nutrition – What you are eating can make a difference with how you sleep! We all know fruits and veggies are the way to go, but what should you stay away from? You want to avoid eating fatty or “heavy” meals right before bed. You want to avoid drinking caffeine past 4pm, because it can stay in your system for many hours. And you want to avoid alcohol in the evenings, because while it can make you sleepy initially, it will make your sleep restless throughout the night.
  3. Exercise – Being physically active throughout the day will help you to become more tired at night. Now, when I say the word “exercise”, I really mean activity in general. You don’t have to go to the gym to be active. You can walk, run, swim, play sports, play with your children, play a musical instrument, dance, and so much more! Again, the more active you can be during the day, the better chance you have at being extra tired at bedtime.
  4. Hydration – Staying hydrated is important for many reasons. When it comes to sleep, being dehydrated before bed can lead to drier mouth and nasal passages, which can lead to snoring or having you wake up because you are dry and parched. It can also lead to nighttime leg cramps, which are certain to wake you up in pain and make it harder to fall back asleep afterwards.
  5. Communication – You might be wondering how this can affect your sleep, but it does! Did you ever hear the old saying “never go to bed angry”? Why is that? First of all, it’s really hard to go to sleep if you are angry! In order to go to sleep, you need to be fully relaxed and calm…two things being angry don’t help with! Therefore, it’s important that you communicate your feelings before bed. And if you can’t resolve the issue then and there, trying talking it out with a friend or family member to “get it off your chest”.
  6. Stress – This is a big one, and it kind of goes along with communication. When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s not conducive to being relaxed and calm, again making it hard to sleep. Reducing your stress, can certainly help you to both fall asleep better at bedtime and stay asleep all night.
  7. Breath – Going along with stress is breathing. No, not regular breathing but deep breathing! It’s not so much that your breathing can cause sleep issues, but it certainly can make you feel better! Deep breathing can help to calm you, keep you relaxed, and make you sleepy. It’s a good thing to keep as a part of your nightly bedtime routine!
  8. Thoughts and Beliefs – Again, this one is a little “out of the box” with traditional sleep issues but’s still important. Ask yourself what your thoughts and beliefs are about sleep in general. Do you think that you only need X amount of hours per night? Do you think sleep is only for the weak? Do you put everything else first over your sleep needs (ie household chores, spouse, kids, work, etc)? Maybe it’s time you change your thoughts when it comes to your own sleep!
  9. Medications/Illnesses – This one may not be something you can easily change, but it’s something you need to be aware of. Certain medical conditions or illnesses have symptoms that affect our sleep (ex: depression, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, etc). And some prescription medications people take on a daily basis can affect their sleep, in the form of insomnia as a side effect. Check your medications to see if this could be the case with you! If it is definitely an issue, or if you’re concerned it might be, then you want to talk to your physician. And please do not go off any medications without first talking to your doctor!

If you’re like most people, you probably read this and thought a few of these things could be affecting your life. It’s true that oftentimes there is more than one reason why we’re not sleeping well. It can be a bit of a mystery to figure it out, but it can be truly life changing if you can do so! If you need some help understanding what your factors are, and would like to know how you can make changes to your life, then let’s talk!

As an integrative adult sleep coach, I help people do just this. I will help you get to the root causes, and then I will coach you through making small, attainable goals so that you can sleep well again. I offer free 15min phone calls, if you’d like to learn more about how I might be able to help you! And you can check out more about my adult sleep packages, too!

Losing Weight The Heatlhy Way

These days all I see is pictures of people who have lost a lot of weight quickly while on some diet. I am all about losing the extra weight, so kudos to all that done so! My concern as a nutrition coach is HOW people are losing that weight. You want to make sure that you’re losing pounds and inches in a healthy, slow manner so that your body isn’t “shocked”.

I’m not going to debate all the different diet fads out there, but instead I want to talk about what I consider to be the better, healthier way to lose weight. There are 5 things I think you should start working on first:

  1. Be aware of your daily caloric and nutrient level intakes. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge! So keep track of what you’re eating, how much and when.
  2. Aim to eat 6 small meals per deal instead of 3 large ones. Doing this allows you to stabilize your blood sugar levels, keeping your hunger and mood swings more consistent. Eating 3 snacks and 3 meals is the best way to accomplish this. While meals tend to be a bit on the “heavier” side, you still want to keep them at a reasonable amount. How much you need is going to depend on your gender, age, current weight, health conditions, if you’re breastfeeding, etc.
  3. Add in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are like the fuel we need in order for our bodies to run smoothly. They are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals that our body needs in order to feel its best! If one or both aren’t your favorites, then start small. Can you add just one fruit and veggie into your daily diet?
  4. Eat the right carbs, proteins, and fats. These 3 macro nutrients are the really the staples to keeping our bodies healthy. They give our bodies the energy we need to keep moving all day long, so we definitely need them. That being said, it’s important to note that there are better carbs and fats than others. For instance, fruits and veggies are actually carbs, but they are good ones. With fats, you want to eat the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats whenever possible and limit your intake of saturated fats (avoid trans fats altogether).
  5. Understand your medical conditions, as it relates to food. Anytime someone is diagnosed with a new medical condition, ailment, pregnancy, or if you just have an issue that is bothering you, you need to understand how that might change your dietary needs. For instance, if you have Crone’s, you’re diet is going to look different than someone who is recently pregnant. There are foods you should eat and avoid eating if you’re diabetic, anemic, have high cholesterol, or are just looking to get rid of stretch marks! These things can make it difficult for people to just start up a new diet on their own. You can of course ask your doctor, or registered dietitian, but you can also work with someone like me who has also been trained to help people understand their dietary needs.

I could literally give you about 20 things to consider when it comes to healthy eating, but I don’t want to overwhelm you! One of the reasons I have decided to become a nutrition coach vs a registered dietitian is because I know that there is more to losing weight (and keeping it off) than just eating the right foods. Yes, that’s going to be a big part of it, but there’s usually more that has to happen. Because I’ve been educated with a holistic point of view, I’ve learned to look at the whole picture. Why aren’t you eating well? What caused the weight gain? Have you been successful in losing weight before? Why/why not? Do you know how to make better food choices (you’d be surprised at how many don’t)? Do you sleep well? Are you exercising? What’s your stress level look like?

This is just a small sampling of the many questions I ask my clients so that I can help them get to the root cause of their weight gain, so we can work together in keeping the weight off long-term. Personally, I’ve been following my own advice for the past 9 weeks, and I’m happy to say that I’ve lost 13lbs already! I didn’t set out to “diet”, but just to be more aware of what I was eating and to make small changes along the way. Now, my entire family is eating better, I’m losing weight, and everyone is feeling great! So losing weight can happen slowly, in a healthy manner, without cutting out any foods altogether, still eating the foods you love, and without supplements, pills, shakes, etc!

If you’re interested in learning more about losing weight the healthy way like I did, or maybe you just want to start making better food choices for yourself or your family, let’s chat! You can set up a free 15min phone call, so that we can talk about your unique situation. I not only work one-on-one with clients, but I also have one DIY online course available right now called “Nutrition – Postpartum & the Family” for mothers. I’m also running a live, online postpartum/family Facebook group every few months to help more mamas at a lower cost. If you follow my Facebook pages for Children or for Healthy Adults, you’ll see when my next group will start. Of course, you can always choose to work with me personally or through an online course at any time you wish.

*If you’re currently on a diet that doesn’t incorporate everything I just mentioned, I would highly suggest doing some research and talking with your doctor to make sure that the particular diet you’re on is right for you now and in the future. You always want to get the okay from your doctor before making any big changes to your diet, or before starting up a new exercise regimen.

Teeth Grinding (guest blog)

Guest blog by Schererville and Chesterton Family Dentistry

 

You may do everything right when it comes to taking care of your teeth. Yet even if you brush and floss twice a day and watch what you eat or drink, there’s only so much you can do while you’re awake. Some of the worst damage you can do to your teeth may be happening without you even being aware of it. You might wake up in the morning with a sore jaw and think you just slept in an odd position, but this could be a sign that you grind your teeth while you sleep. This condition, also known as bruxism, affects approximately 10 percent of adults.

Bruxism is characterized by the teeth grinding against one another during sleep. People who experience bruxism tend to sleep with their jaws clenched tight, and involuntary muscle movements cause their teeth to grind against one another. In some cases, people who experience bruxism may even grind their teeth subconsciously while they are awake. The following infographic goes into detail about grinding your teeth.

Teeth Grinding Guide created by Schererville & Chesterton Family Dentistry

Sleep Like A Boss

As 2017 comes to a close, many of us are thinking about our goals in 2018. We’re wondering what new products or services we might launch, should we increase our prices, what promotions will we run, what does our marketing campaign look like, what’s our ad budget, will we be able to get more clients or sell more products, should we hire more people, etc. All of these things are definitely important, but what about the “HOW”?

How are you going to get all of these things done? Yes, you might have personnel to help with it, or maybe you’re a single entrepreneur doing it all on your own. It really doesn’t matter, if you’re not taking care of yourself. If you’re not sleeping well, then I guarantee you that you’re not making the decisions possible. If you’re sleep deprived, you’re not likely eating well, exercising enough, and generally taking good care of yourself.

Stress is such an important factor in how well we sleep. And for business owners or bosses, I would say it’s probably the #1 factor! Everywhere I turn these days, I see stressed out people. I work a lot with parents who are stressed because they have children, careers, households, etc. I also see a lot of professionals who are feeling overwhelmed with business, family, and life in general. If you can work on the amount of stress you have, you’ll sleep better and feel better.

When people hire me to help them with their sleep, I look at all facets of their lives, because not sleeping well is usually a symptom of other things going on. Again, it’s a matter of working on the underlying issues so that you can sleep better. For instance, if you are stressed out with planning the upcoming year’s goals, then figure out things you can to help relieve that stress. Perhaps, outsourcing your marketing or hiring a new employee should be on your 2018 list.

Leave work at work, whenever possible. If you go to an office every day, then when you leave there make that the last work-related thing you do until the next morning. If you work from home, then have designated work hours, where you can “be out of the office” after a certain time. You owe it to yourself and your family to be present with them when the work day is over. I realize that many people like to work into the wee hours of the night, but think about what you’re really accomplishing at midnight? Sorry, but not to many great ideas happen at 1:30 am. Your body needs to rest and your brain has a lot of work to do!

Many people have the belief that sleep is a waste of time or that it’s only for the weak, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Your brain is hard at work while your body is resting. It’s removing toxins, making internal repairs, transferring short-term memories into long-term ones (those mornings where you wake up remembering something important you’d forgotten are because of this), and it’s regulating hunger hormones. When we get 7.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep each night that our bodies need, we wake up feeling refreshed and mentally/physically ready for the day. You will have more energy to get your tasks done, than if you would have stayed up later before bed. I know personally, I can get way more done in 3 daytime hours vs 3 nighttime ones!

I encourage you to make 2018 the year you “sleep like a boss”, because successful people sleep well! If you’d like to learn about more things that can affect your sleep and what you can do to help improve it, please check out my 5 free tips report. You can also visit my Adult Sleep Services page to learn more about my one-on-one sleep services. And, if your company has a health and wellness program, and you would like me to come in to do a presentation for the staff, I am booking now for 2018. I would spend an hour teaching them specific ways they can help sleep and feel better. Happy, well-rested people make for more productive, energetic employees! You can click the Contact button for further information or to book your company.

Is Stress Ruining Your Sleep?

If you’re like most folks, the summer means more than just picnics, sitting by the pool, and vacations. It can also mean stress. Stress of hosting picnics, keeping your pool or outdoor areas looking nice, and planning those wonderful vacations. And if you’re a parent, then you can add a gazillion other things onto your summer to-do list! How on Earth are you going to keep your children entertained all summer long? If they go to daycare or camp in the summer that’s about half the battle. And if not, you can double your load then! Regardless, all kids want to know (and expect) that you’ll be doing a few fun things throughout the summer.

With all that stress, it’s no wonder that the quality and/or quantity of your sleep might take a backseat to all these festivities. When we’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, it definitely affects how quickly we fall asleep and whether or not we stay asleep all night. For some people, it means that you will have a terrible time “shutting your brain off” so you can get some sleep. As soon as you close your eyes, your mind seems to turn on and start running in a hundred different directions. Pretty hard to sleep when you’re planning your entire vacation in your head! For other people, you’re so exhausted that you fall right to sleep without any issues…well, not initially anyway. But come 4am, your eyes just pop right open, or a trip to the bathroom turns into a bout of insomnia for the remainder of the night. Either way the result is the same…your brain is back in full gear and your done sleeping for the night. It’s super frustrating, when all you really want to do is get some shut eye! So what can you do about this? Here are 3 things that you can do to help…

1) Take 10 minutes during the day: Stress doesn’t just happen before or during sleep. It is there all day long, manifesting itself in everything you do. It’s there when there’s no more coffee (ahhhhh!); it’s there when you can’t find your favorite pair of shoes (gasp!); it’s there when you can’t find your keys and you’re going to be late for work or an appointment (w&t!@#); and it’s there when you discover the dog ate your toast when your back was turned (grrrrr!). Yes, we have stress all day long, though it tends to build up throughout the day and settle in for the night when we’re trying to do the same. One way to combat these stressful situations is to take some time each day for yourself…to take a pause, breathe, calm down, and “reset” yourself. It’s super simple to do, and it can make a big difference in how you feel!

2) Using relaxation techniques: During those 10 minutes, find ways to decompress or “let go”. For instance, you might take a walk or a jog to clear your head. Or you might try deep breathing through your nose, letting that crisp (preferably outdoor) oxygen fill your nose, brain, and body. Or you can listen to a short guided meditation or guided imagery piece. We all have 10 minutes in our day to spare (or even 5 minutes if you can’t do 10 right away), so make this a priority in your day and see if it helps you to feel better by bedtime.

Use these same techniques should you have trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep in the middle of the night. Clearing your mind will help you find the peace and sleep you’re looking for. Using these simple techniques can help you clear your mind and turn your brain off!

3) Keep a positive journal/to-do list: For some reason, men typically have a hard time with this one. I’m not saying you need to keep a diary like a teenage girl might do. I’m saying that writing down positive things that occurred throughout your day can be a very nice way to end your evening. You know that old saying, “don’t go to bed mad”? Well, I’m pretty sure they said that because it’s nearly impossible to do so! Did you ever try to fall asleep with a frown on your face? It doesn’t work! We can’t sleep like that! So even if your day was miserable…you were late to work because of traffic, your son spilled milk all over the freshly washed kitchen floor, your daughter got pen on your brand new shirt, your spouse accidentally deleted your favorite TV show from your DVR lineup, and the cat knocked over your glass of wine…you have to let it all go before bed! Find something positive to say about the day and write it down. For instance, you got complimented by your boss or by your spouse, the kids played together nicely for a whole hour, you finally got to sit down and watch a TV show that wasn’t animated, your mom complimented your parenting methods, you finally got to have that long-awaited get-together with your old high school friend, or your child told you he loved you for no reason other than he really does love you. Whatever it is, we can all find something positive about our days, so again take the opportunity to focus on the good, happy, positive things before bed and you’ll have a much easier time drifting off to sleep with a smile on your face instead of a frown.

The second part of this is keeping a to-do list. Men and women alike keep to-do lists. Some of us have a list on the fridge, some of us have them in our phone or computers, and some of us have them somewhere in our head. Having them written or typed up somewhere is the best way to go, though a lot of us fall into the last category of having things in our heads only. The problem with this is that overnight while our bodies are asleep, our brains are hard at work. They are “cleaning up” in there, where they’re transferring some thoughts to long-term memory and discarding other short-term memories. If you didn’t think enough about taking out the trash throughout the day, there’s a good chance that thought will disappear by morning. You have two choices here:

1) think about taking out the trash all day long

2) write it down on your to-do list so you can stop thinking about it all day

Clearly, writing it down would be the best solution. By the time we go to bed, we tend to have tons of small, trivial things like this on our mind, which clouds our brain and makes it hard to fall asleep. Or worse yet, just as you’re ready to actually fall asleep, your eyes pop back open thinking about something you need to get done tomorrow. Then you try to keep thinking about it to ingrain it in your brain so that it will be there in the morning. Instead of doing all of that, just write it down before bed. You can make it part of your bedtime routine each night, so it’s the last you do before bed and the first thing you see in the morning, if you want to look at it immediately. The point is that it’s off of your mind once it’s written down, then the stress you have about those things is gone, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep all night.

 

***

 

*Note: If you need further help with your sleep, click here to set up your free 15min phone assessment. Then, you can fill me in about your sleep issues, and I can tell you if/how I think I can help you. You can also check out my Adult Sleep Services page for more information!

Sleep and the Holidays

I think it’s safe to say that most of us tend to eat pretty well over the holidays. We have some very large, carbohydrate-heavy meals, delicious desserts, and perhaps some tasty cocktails and beverages! While it all tastes good, it’s not always the best option for sleeping well. I know what you’re thinking, “but I take awesome naps after I chow down a big meal!” Yes, I’m sure you do (as most of us do), but those naps are not the problem.

You might have heard that the amino acid tryptophan that is found in certain foods will make you sleepy. This is true, since the brain transforms tryptophan into first seratonin and then melatonin, which is a hormone that makes us naturally sleepy. So the overeating we tend to do on holidays leads to quick and easy sleep, but unfortunately that’s where the fun ends. Oftentimes a heavy meal will cause you to have a restless night with on and off again wakings. Your body has to work much harder digesting all of that deliciousness than it would with a normal amount of food that wasn’t loaded with carbs and protein. If, however, you can eat it in smaller amounts, then you get the best of both worlds: initial sleepiness and a better night’s sleep.

Alcohol has the same effect. If you’ve ever had an alcoholic drink, you know that you will have an initial “high”, as it’s a stimulant, but then it will leave you sleepy once you stop drinking it. Alcohol also causes nighttime restlessness, since it keeps you from entering deeper stages of sleep.  Caffeine is something else you need to watch. While it can take just 15 minutes for you to start to feel the stimulating effect it has on you, it can take 5-6 hours for half of it to disappear from your system and take up to a full 13-14 hours to completely leave your body! So you’ll want to be very careful about when you drink your coffee or other caffeinated beverages! For example, if you normally go to bed at 10pm, then you want to be sure you’re done having these drinks by 4pm.

So this holiday season, try to spread out the goodies so you’re not eating a huge dinner with an alcoholic beverage, following it up immediately with some dessert and a cup of coffee. If you do that, you’ll surely be up, tossing and turning most of the night! Instead, trying having a midday “dinner” or lunch , along with eating smaller portion sizes, as well as watching what you’re drinking and when. If you’re careful about these things, you can still enjoy all of your holiday favorites and maybe even maintain your waistline too!

 

* If you’re suffering from poor sleep, I can help! Check out my Adult Sleep Packages, download my 5 Free Sleep Tips report, and/or schedule a free 15min phone call with to discuss your unique situation!

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!