Before Good Sleep
I remember sleeping over at a friend's house for the first time when I was young. She played the radio to help her sleep. It was nice for a while, but I laid there almost all night - NOT sleeping. Thinking about the lyrics, dancing in my head to the songs, and wondering if she would notice if I turned it off.
Stories like this from my youth have stayed with me because I’ve always been sensitive to noises and lights when I sleep. Fast forward to adulthood, and my sleep struggle continued. It would take me hours to fall asleep and if I ever did, I woke up just a few hours later frustrated and exhausted. I started self medicating some nights which would completely ruin the following day. I woke up drowsy, grumpy, and jealous of everyone who slept well the night before.
In my journey and struggle to fix my lack of sleep, I learned the benefits of Melatonin and the best ways to naturally generate that hormone.
Building an evening routine is one of the easiest ways to start generating Melatonin. When creating an evening routine, it’s best to keep it simple. At night, to jump start the Melatonin production, I start dimming the lights 30-60 minute prior to bedtime. This is a great tip if you have kids in the house as well! Light actually confuses the brain into thinking it’s still daylight. Here are some hard and fast rules for increasing Melatonin production:
Turn off Blue Light devices 30 minutes prior to bed: Try reading an actual book or listening to an audio version. Blue light keeps our brains in a “wakeful” state.
Leave Social Media alone at least 30-45 minutes prior to getting into bed: The dopamine response you get from every “like” or comment energizes the brain to want more!
Create a Habit with the routine you create. Our bodies have an internal clock which is affected by our stressful and busy lives. Routines are the easiest way to reset that “clock.”
One of the easiest ways to produce melatonin is by consistently using an evening routine. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The brain CRAVES sameness and routine. It loves moving forward without having to “think” about new information. Once in a groove, the unconscious mind is at peace. Do you actually think about the way you brush your teeth? Or the way you put on your pants the exact same way every morning - left foot first, and then the right. (Now you’re curious!) That my friend, is why nightly routines are crucial for adequate sleep. Once the brain recognizes a “groove” or routine, it calms. When we’ve completed the routine enough times, a habit forms.
I have a very powerful essential oil that has been part of my sleep routine for years. All I do is roll it on my big toes, put my socks on, or don’t, and my brain is calm within 15 minutes. IT IS AMAZING. I’ve attached the Essential Oil if your body needs a little extra at night.
Sleepy time roller
15 ml Roller bottle
10 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
Fill ¾ with Carrier Oil or V6
Roll on bottoms of feet AND big toes before getting into bed.
Repeat each time you wake.
Share what a nightly routine will look like for you!
As a new mother, I remember being the most tired I had ever felt in my entire life. Even when I trained as a collegiate athlete and went to school full time, I was never as tired then as when I became a mom. Becoming a mom is a true job in itself and I realized my lack of sleep was affecting me in all areas of my day. It led to my lack of patience, food cravings, weight gain, and even feeling numb some days as a mother or spouse. I often turned to drinking coffee all day and eating junk food that gave me that little bursts of energy just to keep up. Never once realizing how much my daily habits were affecting my sleep patterns!
What we do and what we eat during the day can make or break our sleep cycle. With excess caffeine and sugar, I was destined to an evening of self medicating just so I could fall asleep! I decided to take control over my daily habits so I wouldn't need that afternoon Sonic drink or candy bar! Now, I set my daily habits up much like small goals throughout my day. I actually write them down as a checklist in my phone so I can refer back to them. This checklist is what keeps me accountable and is something I turn back to and tweak as I need.
Let's be Clear
To be clear, I may not complete ALL the items on my checklist each day, but these items are what I strive to achieve. I started with 3 and added goals as I could. The percentage at the end of the week or 3 days is what’s important. Tracking the outcome, I learned, is not meant to make me FEEL bad, it’s just DATA to see what improvements need to be made the following day / week. Collecting data are facts, and can only help you if you allow it to.
Everyone's checklist will be different. Some items on my daily checklist I have found to help me sleep at night include:
Pack Real Food for lunch and Snacks. When I work full days in town I tend to snack... and the options from the break room aren't always the best choices!
Consume 80 ounces to 1 gallon of water. Water helps to flush out toxins and waste which I need daily!
Eat breakfast before 9 am with REAL food helps to jumpstart the metabolism. Anyone else tend to grab a nutrition bar or a handful of cereal out the door? Without a solid breakfast cravings creep in!
Consume my Energizing Red juice and Whole Food Supplements before 2pm. I need my energy, and I have found a way to maintain it without all the caffeine.
Move in some way. Movement has been a major factor to helping me sleep more sound at night. I often MOVE in the mornings to create energy in my body for the day.
Night/evening routine. This has been a huge success and has helped me fall asleep and stay asleep.
In Part 2 I will be sharing tips and tricks on how to create and conquer a night time routine for busy moms.
Share an item from your checklist that you know will lead to better sleep!
That First Year
When I was first married, I remember it being a hard year. A year that would never end. The stresses of getting to know each other were exaggerated by a number of things, but what stands out the most now, were of the health issues I didn’t realize I had. The physical symptoms were showing loud and clear, but I just pushed them aside again and again.
When I first started working in the small town I’m in now, I was the only Speech-Language Pathologist around. I worked in the school full-time, helped part time in a long term care facility when I could, and even attempted working in home health. Needless to say I tried to do it all, and eventually pushed myself over the edge. I am my dad’s daughter - a true work-a-holic. I didn't realize how overly stressed my body was as the physical symptoms continued to worsen.
I Could Tell Something was Wrong
Something from within was wreaking havoc on my ability to work at optimal levels. When I woke up in the morning I was exhausted. I lived off of caffeine, and a diet I thought was working. My adult acne started to shine through like never before, and I would often cry on my way to work just by looking at it in the mirror. After a day's worth of work, I would often curl into a ball on my couch and hide my face from the light. These “funks” I so named, would come and go without warning. And then being emotionally taxed and completely worn out from the day, I would lie in bed for what seemed like hours most nights - NOT able to sleep. Something had to change.
After a year in a half of marriage, I decided to get down to the root cause of my issues. I had tried to stifle these symptoms for far too long - they just kept growing into new more consequential symptoms. I may have looked OK on the outside, but the physical symptoms interrupted every aspect of my life. What I didn’t realize is that the underlying issues were greater than I could ever have imagined.
Fast forward my health journey one year. I was a new person. Not perfect, just new. My physical issues had subsided for the most part, and my emotions were slowly rebuilding. The iceberg of symptoms I had been stifling started to shrink.
I look back now at my journey and take for granted what I now know. I have made it my mission to serve other women who try to do it all. Those women who are in constant stress or business, whose physical symptoms may be in a constant downward spiral, and who are stuck in a spiral of poor health habits. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of my own personal journey. Join me on this journey of health that is never ending. Let's help pull each other out of trenches and into a place of worthiness and self love.
I’d love to know where you are in your journey, so leave me a comment!
If stress is something you cater to, get my Guide, “5 Simple ways to De-Stress” HERE.
I don’t know about you, but every time I tried a new diet I failed. The diets didn’t make sense to me, I always felt hungry, and the ability to maintain any kind of “diet” for an extended period of time was out of the question with my lifestyle. Then I found a way of eating that allows me the versatility I need with my schedule, it keeps me from having those sugar cravings and blood sugar crashes, and I NEVER feel hungry.. Learning how to eat foods from the Earth the way God intended has been so refreshing and truly freeing.
Once I started this new way of eating I felt alone. Not many of my friends or family ate this way, so I had to really dig deep to find a system that worked well for all of us in the home. The foods we eat are based on the Plant Based Diet, but truly include all Whole Foods. We are hunters, so we do eat meat... When we do, I try to make sure the meat we eat is clean, and not full of hormones or other junk. I am, however, a busy mom and a realist. We consume Deli meats and cheeses on occasion, and have been told many times (by the husband) that Bacon is it’s own food group - therefore, it will always be allowed in our home.
I’ll let you decide that one for yourself. ;)
Shifting my mindset to focusing on just one way of eating was HUGE, instead of trying to follow other restricted diets, like Paleo, Atkins, Keto, and other calorie / point counting programs. I HATE counting points and calories, and I despise being restricted. I needed a simple system to keep me accountable while also giving me a focus point. Remember how I said I am NEVER hungry? Well it’s true. I can eat whenever I want with very little restrictions. I stay satisfied, and feel happy when I can prepare real foods from the Earth that taste good!
Let me share with you what plant based / whole foods has done for me. First of all, it has drastically cut down on my sugar cravings and snack desires. I have learned how to easily swap out my craving-foods for simple, whole food options. Cravings happen, though, and it's a good idea to Plan your reward foods/drinks so it's something you can look forward to!
When I get off track, I’ve learned to love myself anyway, and start over right then. When (not if) I cave in to a sweet craving, I own it and continue on my journey. Focusing on the negative choice and guilt associated with the sweet treat, only destroys our good intentions and positive thoughts. Think about what you could swap out the next time, have it on hand, and mentally prepare for it.
Since I started eating whole foods, taking whole food supplements, and consuming just an ounce of the nutrient dense Red drink, I have the energy to keep up with my two toddlers! This was NOT the case when I was yo-yo dieting and pushing my own needs to the side. Supporting my body from the inside out has been the key to maintaining the energy I need to be a full time mom and wife, a full time Speech-Language Pathologist, and a woman.
If you connected with anything in this post, I encourage you to get my Guide, “3 Ways to Feel Satisfied Without Processed Foods.” Click HERE for your Guide!
Sugar is Everywhere
It is one of the most commonly used ingredients on the market. Companies add sugar to products for a variety of reasons. There are two that stick out to me the most. First of all, it’s highly addictive, so companies know consumers will keep coming back for more. Secondly, sugar is added for the purpose of “weight,” because packages are sold by the pound. This obviously requires less product in each bag increasing their sales.
Sugar hides in all types of foods, like, milk, yogurt, breads, crackers, breakfast bars, juice, cereal, and so much more. If you haven’t realized it by now, most Companies do not care about you or your family’s health.. Only about taking more money from your pockets.
The recommended daily sugar intake is 6 teaspoons for women, 9 teaspoons for men, and 3 teaspoons (or less) for children. The average American consumes more than 14 teaspoons of sugar a day! So let’s talk about why sugar is even an issue in the first place.
Glucose Levels Rise and Fall
Unstable blood sugar can cause mood swings, decrease attention and focus, cause confusion, and increase your cravings in general. I had unstable blood sugar levels as a teen that followed me into my college years, but I never understood what it was. I didn’t realize it then, but the diet I was consuming was high in sugar and causing more harm than good. It wasn’t until my late 20s when I truly understood the power of food.
The Immune System
The immune system is one of the most intricate parts of the human body. One of its’ greatest enemies, though, is sugar. What researchers have found is that bacteria, viruses, yeast, and even cancer all feed on sugar. So when your body comes down with a cold or virus of some kind, the quickest way to fight it off is to stop consuming all kinds of sugar. Knowing where sugar lurks is key to keeping your immune system strong.
The doctors and media may not tell you the whole truth when giving tips on how to prevent cognitive decline … sugar actually causes inflammation in the brain tissue as well. Long term consumption of sugar leads to early stages of short term memory loss and confusion. The brain uses more energy than any other organ in the body. When it is fed whole foods and glucose from natural sources the brain can function at optimal levels making you an effective human for the people in your lives.
Effect on Children
Just like sugar affects the adult brain, researchers have found children’s brains to be even more susceptible to sugar overload. The diets of children in America are full of processed foods and snacks - all ridiculously high in sugar content. High intake of sugar has been linked to childhood obesity, attention deficits, behavior issues, and fatigue due to the highs and lows of their glucose levels.
What Does This Mean for You?
Well, it means we must become advocates for our own health and the ones we care for. We as women are typically the ones who bring the food into our homes, plan and prepare the meals, and pack lunches for the following day. Become label readers, educate yourself, and influence the women around. The more you know and put into practice the more motivated you will be to stay the healthier version of you.
Remember - you were created for a purpose. When your brain and body are clouded with poor food choices it can limit your God-given capabilities.
Enjoy this article? You will love my Guide to "3 Tips to Improve Gut Health." Check in out HERE, and let me know what you think!