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May 1, 2020

You are Getting Sleepy...

Let's talk about SLEEP! This morning, I woke up to a text from a member saying she's having issues with sleep and wanting my help (don't worry about texting me at any time of the night, as I put my phone on Do Not Disturb!). I suspect many of you may be having this issue right now, as this crisis is affecting our stress levels. I've been falling asleep quickly, per usual, but if I wake up to use the bathroom, I lay there with my mind reeling. If your issue is falling asleep (or falling back asleep), there are a few tactics I use:

  • breathing techniques, like box breathing (basically it's a breathing focus where you hold and release in a specific pattern to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system)
  • binaural beats - specific music that makes you zonk out (there are free tracks on youtube, just search binaural beats.)
  • meditation - you can download an app and use the ones specific to sleep
  • I love this technique that my mom taught me as a kid: you get in a comfy position and start at your toes and work towards your head, relaxing every single tiny muscle and joint. I barely get to my knees by the time I'm out!
  • Backwards counting from 100 (again, I get to like 70 and I'm gone)

Other "sleep hygiene" considerations are:

  • Stick to the same sleep times consistently each day
  • no caffeine after noon
  • dim all your lights when the sun goes down, no bright overhead lights
  • wear blue-blocking glasses. Screens (TV, phone) mimic the blue light from the sun, these glasses block that out and allow you to get into a rested state. These are easy to find on Amazon.
  • There is some research that eating high carbs with your last meal can help you sleep, although I haven't tested this specifically.
  • Are you working out at night? If so, try to get it done earlier so you aren't in "fight" mode.
  • No alcohol before bed - you may fall asleep fast, but you will wake up lots, even if you don't remember. REM and deep sleep are greatly affected here.
  • Make sure your room is super dark. Use blackout shades, if needed.
  • No animals or kids in the bed
  • Rob and I both wear silicone ear plugs (they are available at drugstores - don't get the foam, get the silicone). They mold in your ear and block out all noise - you feel like you're on your own little pod. This is particularly beneficial if you have noisy neighbors, or a significant other that snores (not Rob, he's perfect). I can't sleep without them!

In terms of supplements, here are some that I've used: These are some that would be fine to use each night -

  • Chamomile tea - this can have a calming effect.
  • Magnesium - this is great for sleep. I use the Natural Calm powder.
  • Reishi mushroom - Four Sigmatic has a hot cocoa drink with Reishi that tastes great.

These are some supplements you would want to try on occasion, but not be dependent on -

  • GABA - this works for some, but causes some really crazy dreams (this could be fun; I came up with an entire game show concept on this stuff!)
  • Melatonin - I only use this on occasion, as it can affect your body's ability to generate it on its own

In addition, hormones play a role in our sleep. Are you crushing yourself each day with a workout or doing really long, taxing cardio, making cortisol high? If so, be more moderate with your exercise. If, like me, you're in the mid-40s+ club, you may want to talk to your doctor and get a full blood panel and test your reproductive hormones to see what's doing there. Thanks for reading...sleep is so important - your brain and body will thank you!

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