Creating a Sleep Routine

Every aspect of our mental, emotional, and physical health is affected by the quality of sleep we get each night.  Proper sleep is essential to deep healing, vitality, and life force. Modern times demand us to be clear, motivated, and well rested to complete a multitude of tasks each day. This requires almost constant energy output, and most of us find slowing down to be quite challenging.

Creating an environment and routine that supports deep relaxation and fully restorative sleep is a key component of feeling & looking our best. It’s also imperative for increasing our immunity, decreasing overall inflammation, and supporting our long-term health.

Use the following tips to support deep sleep

::: Create a supportive sleep environment  Remove all electronics from the bedroom. If you need an alarm, use one that is battery operated, but if you can’t leave your smartphone, make sure to put it on do not disturb mode.  Keep room temp between 60-67 degrees as it helps to regulate body temperature throughout the night. Use a fan or white noise to block out sounds and simulate the womb; this offers a deep sense of safety and comfort to the unconscious mind. I love to use Spotify playlists of ASMR rain sounds.  Clean the air and soften the lighting with a Himalayan salt lamp. Keeping the room as dark as possible enhances melatonin production. If need be, use a sleep mask to block out the light.

::: Set a sleep schedule  We get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10pm to 2am. If you’re sleeping from 1am to 9am and getting eight hours of sleep, you are still missing that prime time when beneficial hormonal secretions like melatonin and HGH (human growth hormone) are at their peak. Clocking a solid 8 hours (from 9-6, 10-6 or 11-7) always feels best for me, but see what works best for you! Shoot for the same time every night, so your body gets into a routine. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and energized before your alarm clock goes off.

::: Limit your caffeine intake  Caffeine is highly stimulating to the nervous system and overconsumption increases cortisol and adrenaline production. Do your best to consume any caffeine in the morning, before noon is best and never later than 2pm! This will give your body ample time to metabolize and fully detox the caffeine from your system.

::: Move your body  Regular exercise lengthens and deepens sleep. Our ancestors spent most of the day moving and slept when the sun went down. Movement is necessary for connecting our body to the natural rhythm of nature and aligning with our internal circadian rhythm. Be sure to workout 2 hours before bed as movement generally spikes adrenalin and cortisol.

::: Incorporate magnesium-rich foods  Magnesium is the anti-stress mineral. It helps to balance blood sugar, optimizes circulation & blood pressure, relaxes tense muscles, reduces pain, and calms the nervous system. By incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diets, such as dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and brazil nuts, you instantly reduce internal stress and improve your quality of sleep.

::: Avoid screens before bed  Artificial blue light emitting from your electronic screen triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disorients your body’s natural preparation for sleep. Programs like Iris are fantastic ways to protect yourself from too much screen time. To get your body into a deep state of relaxation, shut down all electronics 60 mins – 2 hours before you hit the hay. Allow your mind and body to shift from work mode to sleep mode. This will improve your sleep quality almost immediately. If you have trouble doing this, try turning off your notifications. This is a simple way to detach yourself from your tech device.

::: Relax with a bedtime ritual  Slow down with a bedtime routine that promotes deep relaxation. Take a hot bath with lavender essential oil & magnesium bath salts. Sip on a warm cup of chamomile tea. Take a pump or two of CBD. Incorporate some slow stretches to relax your muscles. Listen to calming music, meditate or use hypnotherapy to release your mind from its stressed cycles of endless thought. Practice deep breathing to soothe the nervous system and prepare your body for a deep slumber.

::: Give thanks  Part of the reason people have anxiety and trouble sleeping is a fixation on the things they haven’t done or what they don’t have. Take a few rounds of deep breaths to center yourself and reflect on the day. Think of all that you have to be grateful for in your life right now & write or recite 5 things. Drawing your awareness to a sense of gratitude before bed sets the tone for a peaceful rest.

::: Use calming scents  Aromatherapy oils like chamomilejuniperlavender, marjoramrose, and sandalwood all have sedative effects when inhaled. Rub a little bit on the insides of your wrists, on your temples or on the bottoms of your feet and allow the scents to carry you off to sleep.

Enhancing Digestion

Digestion is quite possibly one of the most important factors of health. About 70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, and, as a result, maintaining digestive health is the key to keeping you healthy all year long. Healthy digestion also means a healthy metabolism, weight regulation, and proper assimilation of nutrients.

This time of year, our digestion is generally overburdened in some way. This happens from too much food, too many sweets, and lots of overindulging. It’s all fun & festivities until you start feeling run down and you feel illness coming on.

Here are a few key elements to keep your digestion flowing & your body glowing. Create sustainable patterns now, to support the way you look & feel all year long.

::: Drink plenty of water (but not with meals). At least 30 minutes before or after is best. This ensures that your digestive fluids can do their job. Aim for half your body weight in ounces per day for proper hydration. If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to organic wine or champagne, and make sure to increase your water intake that day.

::: Load up on probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, organic miso, tempeh, and coconut yogurt & kefir. This will establish a healthy environment for your gut-flora, directly affecting your immune system.

::: Add lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water or meals to increase digestive stomach acids. Begin your day with warm water & half a lemon to elevate stomach acid and stimulate gastric juices. Digestive bitters work in a similar way, take ¼ tsp before meals.

::: Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach not with or directly after a meal as it ferments in the stomach & can disrupt the digestive process.

::: Have a cup of Chamomile tea at night, it soothes and relaxes the bowel wall and aids constipation. Peppermint tea & Fennel tea help to relieve gas.

::: Soak your grains, nuts and seeds for optimal digestion.  Soaking them removes the nutritional inhibitors & phytic acid that the body struggles to break down.

::: Stay present at mealtime, eat slowly & mindfully, and try to avoid unconscious eating. Eat slowly in a relaxed environment & chew your food . Remember that digestion begins in the mouth! Taking deep breaths before, during, and after meals & putting your fork down every few bites helps to keep you present.

::: Supplement, when necessary, with digestive enzymes to replenish your natural reserves. This is helpful when consuming a heavy holiday meal or animal products. This enhances stomach enzymes and relieves gas, bloating & discomfort. If your system is feeling overburdened, try a 1-day cleanse to give your digestive system a break.

::: Cut back on gluten-containing foods. The gut has a hard time breaking down the protein found in gluten. This can cause gas, inflammation, bloating & constipation. There are so many tasty alternatives out there like quinoa, brown rice, or amaranth!

::: Aim to eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Stay in alignment with the natural rhythm of your body. Late evening is for resting & digesting.