How To Make A Healthy Sleep Routine

One of the most often overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle is sufficient sleep.

Sleeping is not only necessary, but it can be incredibly healing for us. It’s a time where our muscles recover, our bodies relax, our brains get a break, and we can drift off into dreamworld.

Everyone wants to be able to wake up with a jolt of energy before the sun comes up. It’s no reason that people wish for this power, waking up fatigued and groggy with no desire to get out of bed isn’t the most empowering way to start your day.

I believe that everyone is different. Some people are early birds, and some are naturally night owls. You can try to fight this any way you want, but some people just aren’t meant to be up early, and that’s okay!

However, I do have some tips and tricks listed below that may help you get a better night’s sleep so that you can start your day with boundless energy and endless possibilities!

ABOUT BEING AN EARLY BIRD

I am naturally an early bird and always have been. I don’t think I’ve slept past 9:00AM my entire life. I am such an early bird that no matter what time I go to bed (be it 9:00PM or 3:00AM) my body will always automatically wake me up around 6:00AM. This is the exact reason why I am so diligent about getting into bed at a decent hour because if I don’t, I won’t get enough rest and recovery that my body needs to keep me functioning at my highest (that was a mouth full).

The key to waking up early is giving your body the dreamiest + deepest sleep possible with the least amount of interruptions. It’s not about getting MORE hours of sleep, but about making those solid hours very deep and meaningful.

TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SLEEP ROUTINE

ADAPT A NIGHTLY ROUTINE

I can’t stress how important this is. There are so many ways to unwind during the day, but many of us just go directly from working on a project or scrolling through Instagram straight to bed. This is OK sometimes, but doing this repeatedly isn’t sending a signal to your brain that it’s time to go to bed. Instead, this sends stress signals to your brain, and you’ll be going to bed with too much stimulation and racing thoughts. There are many ways to develop a nightly bedtime routine, but mine is as follows:

  • turning off cell phone 1-2 hours before bed
  • taking a shower/bath
  • dry brushing, self-oil massage
  • sip a cup of tea
  • 10 minutes meditation using the Calm app
  • turn on my white noise machine (or iPhone app if I am traveling)
  • jumping straight into bed!

This routine works for me because I can do it from anywhere (home, hotel, etc.) and makes me feel peaceful, grounded, and calm before heading into dreamland.

GET ON A CONSISTENT SLEEPING SCHEDULE.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time is so important. Your body is a clock and works like one. Setting your circadian rhythm is extremely important, and sticking to that and honoring it. Everybody is different, but I like to head to bed around 10pm, fall asleep by 10:30, and wake up refreshed without an alarm around 5:30 or 6:00AM.

GET OFF ELECTRONICS 1-2 HOURS BEFORE BED, AND SLEEP WITH THEM IN ANOTHER ROOM.

This is so important, especially in this day in age. Think about it this way, the information you absorb goes directly into our conscious and subconscious. How many times have you fallen asleep to the blaring sound of the television, only to wake up at 3:00AM to turn it off? Even though you are sleeping, your brain and senses are still alert, so all the information you absorb (especially the few hours right before sleep!) will directly affect your sleeping behavior. Give your eyes a rest and make a promise to yourself to read in bed instead of mindlessly scrolling the internet!

Even more importantly, start sleeping with your cell phone in another room. This will remove temptations to check your phone if you wake up in the middle of the night. It’s also a great habit of making your bedroom a sacred space which I talk about more below.

CUT OFF CAFFEINE AFTER 12 NOON.

SO important! Caffeine is a stimulant, so a cup or so in the morning is a totally fair game, but a 2nd or 3rd in the afternoon can disrupt your sleeping pattern.  If you struggle with an afternoon slump, rather than grabbing a cup of coffee, try fixing yourself a tall glass of H2O, going for a walk around the block, or eating a nutrient dense snack like fat balls. If you are a coffee drinker and are so fatigued around 3pm that you can’t stay awake and NEED the 4th cup of coffee to make it through to dinner time, you may want to look at what you are eating throughout the day.

GET THE TV OUT OF YOUR ROOM AND MAKE YOUR BED A SACRED SPACE.

One of my favorite healthiest home tips is not owning a television at all. I know this isn’t what everyone wants, but at least removing it from your bedroom makes it a sacred sleeping space only. Make a promise to yourself that you will not lay on your bed during the day or in “real people clothes”. Keep electronics out of the bed as much as you can and only step into bed when you are ready to wind down. If you are used to watching TV in bed, try reading a book. They are a great way to fall asleep.

SKIP THE LATE NIGHT WORKOUT SESSIONS.

Studies have shown that high intensity workouts and sweat sessions too close to bedtime could potentially disrupt your sleep. Getting your heart rate up so close to bedtime gets your adrenaline pumping and sends signals to your brain to keep going.

A PM restorative candlelit yoga class or light pilates session is totally fine, but skip the 8PM spin class.  Of course, every person is different, and this may be the only time you can squeeze in a workout. However, if your schedule allows, start waking up earlier to squeeze in an AM workout, You’ll be surprised to find that you have more energy throughout the day.

GET BLACKOUT SHADES FOR YOUR BEDROOM

Remove EVERY single source of light from your bedroom. Digital clocks, streetlights, cell phone lights, even night lights. They are sources of light and send signals to your brain to stay awake. If you must, buy an eye mask to remove all sources of light. This has helped me reach deeper levels of sleep than you can imagine.

TURNING OFF THE CEILING FAN

I used to wake up with a headache each morning until one of my followers asked me if I slept with my ceiling fan on. I told him “yes,” since I did. He said to me that ceiling fans can cause morning migraines. A/C is totally okay, but if you have a ceiling fan, try turning it off at night to wake up headache-free.

SOME THINGS THAT HELP ME SLEEP:

Tea in bed. I love sipping on hot herbal drink right before bed as I read. Below is my favorite brand!

Sipping on Reishi mushroom tea a few hours before my bedtime. Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind, and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life.

 

What are some of your favorite healthy sleeping techniques?

Oil Training 101

If you’re anything like the average American, you grew up buying regular shampoo and washing your hair every day or every other day.

The big-time shampoo companies strip your hair of its natural oils, drying out your hair, thereby making your hair produce more grease, so you rewash it. It’s a vicious cycle, and hard to break.

Oil Training (also known as “grease training” is when you decide you are DONE with that vicious cycle and want to train your hair to last longer between washes. During this process, you let it get greasy and ride out that wave for as long as possible, slowly going from washing every day to only cleaning once a week (or once every other week- whatever works). You still shower as usual, but you don’t wash or wet your hair. A shower cap is definitely recommended for this. One would think to wet your hair but not cleaning would be good, but it actually spreads the grease around and makes it look even greasier, so definitely abstain from that.

For some, this process takes 3 weeks, for others, it takes 3 months. I started oil training Mid March 2017, and now it’s Mid May, and I am still oil training. It really depends on your ethnicity and the texture of your hair. It can also have to do with the water/pH levels too.

WORKING OUT WHILE OIL TRAINING

This is a big question I get a lot. “Doesn’t your hair get nasty from all the sweat in spin classes?” Well, yes and no. I don’t sweat A TON on my scalp, so my hair doesn’t get too gross. I put my hair up in a high pony during my workouts, then when I am done, I put on a shower cap and wash the rest of my body. After my shower, I take my cap off, comb my hair, and fluff it up with my hands. Voila!

It’s important to note that I never use a blowdryer, I always towel dry my hair.

Below are some of my favorite tips and pointers that I’ve been using during my oil training process.

TIPS & POINTERS

  • Apple Cider Vinegar works well as a neutral clarifier when you’re in between shampoos. I do wet my hair when I do this process. I just wet my hair, pour some ACV into my hands and do my best to rub it into my scalp. It’s kind of awkward at first. I let it sit for 3 minutes then rinse.
  • Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo is a life saver. But keep in mind dry shampoo should not be used every day – it causes buildup and kind of looks like dandruff if you use too much.
  • Smell test –  rub clean hands on your scalp a few times, then smell your fingers. If they smell, that means you smell. Wash your hair.
  • Your hair isn’t as greasy as you think it is. When we are stuck in that washing everyday cycle, it can be easy to assume your hair looks greasy on the 2nd day. Stick with it, and ask an honest friend if need be. Chances are they think your hair looks bomb.
  • If it’s really greasy, smells terrible, itches or just looks crappy, WASH IT! My first few weeks of grease training, I was super anal and wouldn’t let myself wash it even when it seemed horrible and was greasy AF. I’m much laxer now- I wash it every 5 days or so. That works for me.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Move over expensive store bought hair masks…what even are you anyway?

*NOTE: PLEASE READ MY OIL TRAINING POST TO SEE ALLL ABOUT HOW I TRAINED MY HAIR TO LAST 7 DAYS WITHOUT SHAMPOO.

Earlier this year I began oil training my hair. As part of the oil training routine, I started using coconut oil once a week to grow it stronger, longer, and thicker. After just one coconut oil hair mask use, my hair felt gorgeously light, wavy, and full of volume. I think it’s a combination of shampoo-ing less and the moisture from the coconut oil. Shampoo weighs your hair down, and when you do it less, your natural hair will show.

Coconut oil has anti-microbial properties, lauric acid, and medium-chain fatty acids that strengthen hair, condition the scalp, and may even help to regrow hair.

Not to mention, one jar of coconut oil runs about $6 and has unlimited uses, so it’s cost-effective and environmentally friendly. #WIN

THE PROCESS

So, the process is as follows.

  1. Say I want to wash my hair on Monday morning. On Sunday morning, I will pour about 1/3 cup of organic unrefined coconut oil into my hands and run it through my hair – start at the scalp and work it through the ends. I spend a few minutes running the oil through my hair to make sure each strand is covered with some coconut oil love.
  2. After it’s evenly spread, I twist my hair into a high knot on the top of my head (people with short hair can do a low ponytail) to make sure its kept out of my face. I use bobby pins to keep it from my neck as well.
  3. I go about my day: I work out, shower (using a shower cap, run errands, and I sleep with it in. I am sure not to touch it too much with my hands.
  4. *Important Step* Monday morning, 24 hours later, I hop in the shower and shampoo it all out. I scrub the crap out of my scalp to make sure I get all the oil out. If you rush this stage and aren’t thorough, you will find remaining coconut oil in your hair once it’s dried. Make sure you take your time and really give your scalp a good scrub.
  5. After washing, I then repeat the weeklong process all over again; I don’t wet or shampoo my hair in between coconut oil bun days.

Q+A

Q: What type of coconut oil do you use for the mask?

A: I use organic unrefined coconut oil for my hair masks.

Q: How long do you keep it in?

A: Up to 24 hours.

Q: Do you work out with it in?

A: Absolutely! I sleep, workout, shower, and go about my normal life with it in.

Q: Every time I use coconut oil, it makes my hair so greasy! How can I prevent this?

A: When shampooing your mask out, make sure you are REALLY scrubbing your scalp to wash out the coconut oil.  Massage the shampoo into your head for a good 2-3 minutes. Your arms should get tired, that’s how you know you are doing a good shampoo job!

Q: What shampoo and conditioner do you use?

A: I rotate my shampoo brand every few months, but am currently loving Rahua Shampoo and Rahua Conditioner.

Q: Does the coconut oil stain sheets?

A: It can – I suggest sleeping with a shower cap on or an old towel over your sheet to prevent any staining or discoloration.

Q: Don’t you get embarrassed going out with greasy hair?

A: Hell no, I wear my coco bun with pride. I love it! Most people won’t notice your bun – trust me. We are always way more self-conscious than we need to be. If you’re nervous, you can also schedule your coco bun days for Sundays (or any day that you will be spending most of the time at home).

Your Gut And Your Hormones

Just when you think you understand hormones, you learn something new. Did you know the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle are influenced by your gut? Your intestinal bacteria (and their genes), called the microbiome, have so many important functions for your body that some scientists refer to it as a “virtual organ”.

The microbiome synthesizes nutrients and assists with digestion. It releases chemicals that regulate mood and metabolism and immune function, and if all that wasn’t enough, it also helps to control the level of estrogen.

Fun fact: The subset of the microbiome involved with estrogen metabolism is called the estrobolome.

How the microbiome affects estrogen

Estrogen is made primarily by your ovaries. It then circulates through your body to your uterus and breasts and other organs, until it reaches your liver where it’s inactivated. Inactivated estrogen is then sent to the intestine where it is supposed to stay inactivated so it can exit the body through the stool. That is normal, healthy estrogen metabolism.

When certain intestinal bacteria are present, something very different happens. Unfriendly bacteria make an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which re-activates estrogen in your gut. That’s a problem because re-activated estrogen then re-enters your body and causes excess estrogen. That is impaired estrogen metabolism.

Fun fact: An unhealthy microbiome is called dysbiosis.

The complication with excess estrogen

Too much estrogen can make periods heavier. And it can also contribute to the long-term risk of conditions such as uterine fibroids and breast cancer.

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How to improve estrogen metabolism through your gut

Fortunately, there are ways to improve the health of the microbiome and to, promote the healthy metabolism of estrogen.

What Exactly Are Good and Bad Fats?

There’s a health buzzword going around: “healthy fat.” We know that some fats can be good for us, (like avocado, cacao, and olive oil) and some not so much when eaten often. But what exactly is “healthy fat,” and why are some fats labeled “good” and “bad”? And what are the actual health effects of these fats in the body? Continue reading “What Exactly Are Good and Bad Fats?”

Six Reasons To Go Meatless One Day A Week

Going meatless, even just once in a few times a week, can make an amazing impact on your health. You don’t have to cut all animal products out of your life cold-turkey, but decreasing the amount of meat and increasing the number of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains that you eat can do wonders for your health and the health of the environment. Continue reading “Six Reasons To Go Meatless One Day A Week”