6 tips for a better sleep

alarmAccording to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, the consequences of sleep deprivation at 24 hours is comparable to the cognitive impairment of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent. Insomnia whether it is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or early morning waking is frustrating and can have significant impact on your overall health.

Sleep is crucial to our quality of life because it:

  • Improves concentration, memory and motor skills
  • Regulates appetite and metabolism
  • Helps with recovery and repair
  • Helps regulate our mood.
  • Is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system.
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Helps the brain get rid of its waste

If you experience insomnia, practice the following suggestions to help you reestablish a healthy circadian rhythm.

1. Avoid hitting the snooze button
Any extra sleep you get is fragmented making it low quality. You also prepare the body for a new sleep cycle that you won’t have time to finish resulting in fatigue throughout the day.

Solution
Set your alarm for when you actually need to get up. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day to support your natural sleep cycle.

2. Schedule it!
Catching up on sleep on weekends isn’t ideal. It can undo some but not all of the damage that sleep deprivation causes.

Solution
Go to bed and wake-up at the same time each day, even on weekends to stabilize your circadian rhythm.

3. Using technology before bed.
78% people engage in screen time before bed. The blue light from screens of computers, phones or tablets can delay the production of melatonin and keep you awake longer.

Solution
You can install the free software F.lux which changes the light of your computer depending on the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. You can also buy some blue ray blocking glasses to wear at least 2 hours before bedtime while viewing screens.

Instead of starting at a screen before bed, practice meditation to allow the body to relax.

4. Avoid stimulants before bed.

Solution
Avoid caffeine in the evening. If you are sensitive to caffeine try to limit your intake to mornings only. Finish your dinner at least 2 hours before bed. Avoiding alcohol close to bedtime as it reduces REM sleep, the phase which is associated with deep dreaming. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness. Opt for herbal teas such as chamomile, which has a sedative effect. Also limit your amount of fluids so that you don’t need to get up to use the bathroom.

5. Make sure your room is cool.

Solution
Your body temperature needs to lower for you to get to sleep. Set the temperature in your room between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. Cold feet are strongly linked to the sleep cycle. If you your feet are cold, put on a pair of socks to induce sleep more quickly.

6. Increase melatonin

Solution
Specific practices that increase melatonin are: eat/drink protein 30 min before bed for example 1 tbsp of almond butter, use dark out curtains or an eye mask.

If you have tried these recommendations and despite all your efforts you are still struggling to get a good night sleep consult a Naturopathic doctor to find the right natural sleep aid for you.

Permission to recover

Permission to recover

One of the biggest hurdles that mom’s have to get over before we can truly create self care in our lives is giving yourselves permission, to say yes to your needs! We feel guilty if we are not doing something, being with or caring for a need for our family. Where did this belief system come from? What is this guilt rooted in? Logically we all know that if we are not caring for ourselves then we have nothing to give to other’s. You have heard advice about putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child, but what stops us from doing this in our day to day lives? This is something that I have been exploring as part of my own personal recovery from mom burn out.

When I became a mom I set out on the impossible task of doing it all. As a self employed Naturopathic doctor I started back at work when my daughter was 4 months old, part time but working none the less. Still 100% committed to nursing my daughter my life became about nursing, pumping, working, running, commuting, disrupted sleeping, eating whatever was quick and easy and drinking lots of coffee to keep this cycle going. Whenever I was working I felt awful for not being with my daughter, whenever I was with my daughter I felt torn from being away from work that I loved. My remedy to this was a futile attempt to be 100% to both and 0% to me. The math did not add up. The result was burn out! I was so incredibly hard on myself and nothing about this process was loving. I also realize that during this time I was not an awesome Naturopathic doctor nor was I a present and centered mom for my daughter. This still brings me to tears.

Looking back, I truly believe there was room for family and career but I was missing a key component of self care and a gentle heart. It took an emotional as well as physical crash but when I knew better, I did better not only for me as well as my family, my work, my friends, my community.

It is something that I still have to check in with myself every single day: I ask myself is this choice loving and am I caring for myself? If the answer is a no, then I give myself permission to make a different choice that reflects my needs knowing it will ultimately have the positive domino effect on the people that I touch each day. I now say Yes to me!

5 ways to have more energy

energyDid you know that feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for “tired all the time”? If you regularly feel exhausted it’s a good idea to consult your health care professional to rule out any underlying health issues. Tiredness can also be the result of a busy lifestyle. If you find yourself struggling to stay alert throughout the day then you might want to try some of the following suggestion to boost your energy.

1 – Stay Hydrated with Water and Electrolytes

The human body is 55-75 percent water. All bodily systems depend on adequate water to sustain regular metabolic activity. Even mild dehydration can compromise function and lead to symptoms like thirst, dry skin, constipation, fatigue, headaches, and weakness.

How much water should you drink? Here is an easy formula to get you started:

Your weight (lbs) ÷ 16 = Daily intake (cups)

_______________ lbs ÷ 16 = _______________ cups

If you had an intense workout, try coconut water or water with lemon and honey to help replace the electrolytes your body sweated out.

2 – Limit or avoid caffeine

Caffeine and coffee simply fool your body into producing fake energy. Caffeine temporarily takes large amounts of adrenaline from your adrenal glands, resulting in a longer-term of energy levels and a greater dependence of caffeine for energy.

If you do consume caffeine have your last caffeinated drink before midday. It takes women 8 hours to metabolize caffeine.

Substitute your cup of coffee with Rooibos tea. Rooibos tea is made from South Africa’s red bush plant and is packed with antioxidants including aspalathin, which regulates the adrenal hormones, helping to reduce stress and maintain high energy levels.

3 – Natural light

Exposure to bright, natural light first thing in the morning is the best way to wake up your brain and to regulate your biological clock and keep it on track. Enjoy your breakfast in by a sunny window or better yet, get outside for a few minutes and enjoy the natural light and the fresh air which will also help you feel more energized.

4 – Daily Exercise

Incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day will not only give you more energy, it will make you healthier and happier. Exercise releases endorphins that will leave you feeling uplifted. Physical activity also sends oxygen and nutrients to your cells, helping your system work more efficiently. For an extra boost of energy exercise outdoors in the morning to get the benefits from the natural light.

5 – Eat Chia Seeds

Did you know that the ancient Mayans and Aztecs warriors used to eat Chia seeds for energy and alertness during war? Chia seeds have high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 that help regulate glands, fight adrenal fatigue, and reduce inflammation. They are also high in protein and fiber, which keep blood sugar stable.

Stating your day with refined carbohydrate such as a bagel, muffin or high sugar cereal can disrupt blood sugar levels, causing a mid-morning crash. Adding chia seeds to your morning smoothie or oatmeal can help satisfy your hunger and avoid an energy crash.

Chia seed pudding is a delicious snack and it’s easy to make.

Chocolate chia pudding

  • 1 ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 4 pitted dates

Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour the pudding in glasses or small jars and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours.

5 ways to give yourself permission

5 ways to give yourself permission

Giving yourself permission to take care and listen to your own needs is a really hard thing for a lot of mom’s to do. This difficulty actually comes from a really beautiful place, our children mean everything to us and we want what is best for them. The problem is that we have the misguided belief that if we give them all of us then we are being “good’ moms. This is just not true. We are good to others when we are good to ourselves! Our families need to see us in actions of self care as this will result in a happier and healthy you as well as teach your children what worthiness, self esteem and inner love looks like.

Here are 5 ways that you can give yourself permission and model self care for your family:

1. Go first:
Step ahead in the family line and take care of YOU first! If it is at meal time, bath time or bed time put your needs first and take your turn before anyone else in the family. Allow yourself to be nourished, relaxed or rested before your children or partner and get curious about the positive rippling effect this has on you and your family.

2. Take a planned time out every day:
Reflect on your day and pick a non-negotiable, never missed few minutes when you are able to with you and your breath. Create conscious awareness around this daily time slot. By putting one hand on your heart and the other on your belly for just a few minutes every day, you will connect to yourself in a beautiful and profound way. Communicate this “time out” with your family, so that everyone knows that you are NOT AVAILABLE during this time every day!

3. Let some things go
As a self proclaimed control freak this was really, really hard for me but once I embraced the necessity of letting some things go I could feel the pressure lift from me immediately.

Everyone has different values and only you know where you are putting energy that is not serving you. I love a clean and organized house, I wanted to let this go but it ultimately did not ease any pressure for me. I was however able to let go of the concept of perfect meals, I can share with you that at least 1 time per week we eat frozen pizza (with a side of veggies) and I buy -not bake – cookies, granola bars, muffins for my daughter’s lunches. What a relief when I put my gluten free, vegan, paleo cook books back on the shelf to collect dust once again! What can you let go of?

4. Ask for help
Mom’s martyr! We do! I had to get honest and admit that I was not asking for help because I felt that no one could do it as well as me. What a relief when I recognized this and now once a month we pay for a cleaning service to come to our home, a wonderful luxury and worth every cent to me. The other times of the month, my husband, daughter and I turn up the tunes and get to work. My daughter loves to clean the toilets and my husband is awesome with the floors. We try to make it a “funish” family affair and often go out for a treat after to celebrate our clean house! What can you get some help with? Maybe a teenager can come over a few hours a week to watch your little ones while you have a bath or read a book. Can you ask your husband to take over the laundry duties? Chances are you are holding on to a mom duty that you can pass along to someone else, they may even do it better than you!

5. Say No!
Sometimes the simple things are the hardest things. A big part of mom burn out is the need to take care of everything and everyone. What is that saying…want to get something done, give it to a busy person? Mom’s you are the perfect target for this! A little technique that has served me very well in the past few years is something I call the “pause button”. Whenever anyone asks me to do anything, I reply with “I will get back to you”. This allows me to walk away and think about if it serves me before responding with a reflexive yes when actually it is a resounding no!

Suffering from a cold? Try warming socks treatment.

wool socksThis amazing at home treatment acts by increasing the circulation and decreasing congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a relaxing action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.  Warming socks is effective for pain relief and has been shown to speed the healing response during acute infections.

Indications:
Sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

Supplies:

1 pair of thin white cotton socks
1 pair of thick wool socks
towel
warm bath or warm foot bath

Directions:
1. Warms your feet first – this is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes or taking a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.
2. Dry off fee and body with a dry towel
3. Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them in cold running water. Wring the socks well so they do not drip.
4. Put the cotton socks on your feet while sitting on your bed. Cover with the wool socks and go directly to bed so as to avoid getting chilled.
5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

For best results repeat this for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your Naturopathic Doctor.