Sleep is something that almost everybody loves, including our own body! It is also something of a troublesome burden to many of us as well. I often am asked how I can wake at 3 am daily and go to bed by no later than 8:30 in the evening. That is quite the day, and I do begin working at 3:30am with household chores, meal prepping, etc and off to my actual day job. When I arrive home I do more chores and work that can be done at home. This equates to a lot of work and makes many wonder how I get to sleep. I do nap for starters. I find time to be able to lie down for 45-60 minutes about 2-3x per week. I only do this when I am feeling incredibly exhausted or had a restless nights sleep the night before. While my sleep is great most nights, just like anyone else I still have restless nights that leave me feeling groggy in the morning and wanting to stay in bed.
As we all know, sleep is imperative for recovery, focus, and energy the following day. Nobody wants to wake up groggy and hating life, their body, or the way they feel. Here are some tips to set you up for a successful nights sleep and following morning.
1. Know your chronotype. If you aren't sure what a chronotype even is, this is your DNA telling you if you are a morning person or a night owl. Ever see someone get up and be full of energy first thing in the morning, no caffeine and spritely as the sun? (*coughs* ME) This morning energy upon waking is an indicator of what time you should be rising from your slumbers. If you aren't sure of what your chronotype might be, take a look here to take a quiz and find out more about how your body cycles it's circadian rhythm. I am a Lion.
(Image below from sleepadvisor.org)
2. Limit your screen time & light exposure. This one is pretty tough for most of us nowadays. Our phones are often right by our side if not right in front of our eyes. The blue light from screens causes the frontal lobe to stop producing hormones such as melatonin. Without melatonin we have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Blue light can make you feel more alert, awake and energized. "Photo receptors in the eye, which link to the areas of the brain that control alertness, are most sensitive to blue light. Therefore, when blue light hits them, the receptors set off activity in those brain regions, making you more energized," says Shadab A. Rahman, Ph.D. By limiting our blue light and regular light exposure we allow the mind time to calm and begin producing the hormone melatonin again. We begin this process in our home around 3-4 hours before we go to bed.
3. Light therapy. This has been a really great one for us since we moved into our new home. We have red and green lights everywhere! We use them to help calm the mind and body. Red lights help our bodies produce more melatonin and is recommended to be in about 30 minutes before bed. (We turn ours on about 5pm and are in bed around 7:30-8pm) Red light therapy also increases your performance for the next day by aiding in a restful nights sleep from production of the hormone melatonin. You cannot sit in a red light and stare at a blue light from your computer, phone, or tv screen. It will not be affective. They counter each other, one brings you alertness and the other brings you sleep.
4.Find regularity. This seems to be a tough one for many individuals. Often times I hear from friends, family and clients that they sleep in on their weekends to catch up on sleep. I'm about to burst your bubble so be prepared; There is no such thing as catching up on your sleep. (The podcast from Found My Fitness with Dr. Matthew Walker explains this further) Having a set schedule for your sleep can aide in a better nights sleep. Finding regularity means that you're in bed and going to bed at the same time every night and awaking at the same time every morning. Often times we lie down and reach for our phones. There is that blue light causing massive activity in the brain and blocking that melatonin production. Put it down and actually close your eyes. You will fall asleep!
5. Stop eating crap. This can be a tough one for a lot of individuals as well. I hear everything from " I can't afford to eat healthy it's expensive!" to "I don't like to cook, it is so much easier to order in." It doesn't matter what "healthy" restaurant your food comes from, the best is from the store to your home and into your frying pan. Where you can control the amount of sodium, fats, sugars, and other preservatives and chemicals put into foods to keep them "fresh". The lack of vitamins and minerals combined with preservatives will cause inflammation and an imbalance in the hormones. Eating wholesome and healthy foods for your body and goals will help you catch some better and more restful zzzz's.
6. No alcohol. Nowwwwww I know what you're thinking, "Kaie! How dare you! That is NOT my problem!" Wellllllllllllllll it very well could be a huge contributing factor. First and foremost alcohol is poison, sugar mixed with poison. One drop will stay in your bloodstream for roughly 2 hours. Sugar, as most of us know, causes inflammation and issues with the function of our frontal lobe much like alcohol. Alcohol also causes hormone imbalances and vitamin and mineral deficiencies and an inability to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals. Alcohol is also a depressant, in other words it's a downer and it will make you sad. It interferes with the communication from the neurotransmitting receptors that line your stomach to your brain. A disruption in, not only the hormone production of the brain, but also the guts. If you must drink in the evenings, do it many hours before your regularly scheduled sleep time.
7. Meditate. Many individuals respond to this with a big, fat "HELL NO! I CAN'T SIT IN SILENCE THAT LONG!" Meditation is not about sitting in silence. It is about quieting the mind and body. It is about calming the self and reconnecting. On the scientific side it quite literally helps your hormones balance out to a proper homeostasis baseline. Letting go of the days mishaps, anxieties, fears, and worries can also help us sleep. Reminding us that tomorrow is a new day, with new and better opportunities. I often write down specific affirmations to help my subconscious know we are allowed to sleep well and sleep deeply.
Here are a few examples:
"I give myself permission to sleep deeply."
"I let go of all tense thoughts."
"I did my best today and that is good enough."
"I did all that I can physically do today, that is enough."
8. Exercise regularly. Here is another tough one. Most of us find exercise tedious and a nuisance, this is largely because it is not a focus of the American culture and is not emphasized toward an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise is another activity that can help us balance hormones and keep us at an even keel homeostasis. Nobody is asking you to step in the gym and go HAM for hours, we simply ask that you do at least 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. This will help you sleep better, eat better, manage life better all around.
Now that you have a few great tips and tricks to help you sleep, I hope you can begin to change a few things around and get the restful sleep you deserve.
The holidays are such an insane time of year.... or rather all year. It seems as though there is ALWAYS something to have a holiday over nowadays! However I would like to focus on the major ones that fall from September to January. This period of several months brings in much stress, thrown off schedules, over-eating and bad habits resurface, delayed self-care, and money spent we don't have/want to spend. Many of us struggle during this time of year. As we come a close on it I would like to encourage you to keep a few things in mind as you move into 2021.
1. Do not put yourself in debt for others and things.
I find so often around, especially the Christmas season, individuals will drop their self-care routines to buy things for others they don't actually need or want. I often see others complain when they do get the thing they wanted, "Oh, it's great.... I just wanted the green one not the purple one and my size is wrong!" Okay..... take it back, don't be ungrateful. Why waste money on those who are not grateful for even the thought of wanting to purchase them a gift?
2. Spend your time wisely.
This holiday season I had many clients share their stresses about the holidays with me and they ALL involved seeing family members they don't enjoy spending time with, being in situations with family members that stress them out, or being around anyone they just don't want to give time to. So why do we do it? We were programmed and trained to feel terrible if we aren't spending the holidays with our families and loved ones. This is so untrue. If someone makes you feel terrible and stresses you out, cut that toxicity out.
3. Family are the people you choose to keep around you, your relatives are just that. Blood relatives.
As someone who comes from the most loving and accepting family I have ever met, this is so important. My parents taught me at a young age that your family is not just those who are blood relatives, they are the individuals we keep around as our main support system. These are the people we should be surrounding ourselves with through the holidays.
4. Self care should never waiver during the holidays!
Over the holiday season so many worry about their weight and how they will manage their diets. If you continue your normal routines and incorporate your holidays appointments and shenanigans into your daily routine then you will be more present for them. You will be more energized and able to be in the moment. When we take a bird-walk away from our normal routines we become anxious, stressed and worrisome. If you are the person waiting on someone to finish their gym routine, meditation or other self care item and you tell them they do not need it..... they do not need you. This brings me to my next helpful point.....
5. Be understanding a patient. It's not YOUR life.
You cannot control what others will do. It is their life, let them live it. If someone in your life would like to start their Christmas morning at 5am with a gym workout and THEN come over... odds are you aren't awake at 5am so let them do their thing! They are most likely letting you do yours. Be patient with people and their own routines. Be understanding that that is not your life you are only a part of theirs. And because THEY allowed you to be. Family or blood relative we should all feel grateful for those in our lives and respect THEIR daily routines and daily norms.
6. An extra plate is not the end of the world.
So many individuals fret over having too much food or an extra slice of pie over the holiday season. Pro tip? Don't! Your body is a machine, it needs food as fuel. What you do with that fuel is what you should be concerned with. If I have another brownie, or a second plate because I still feel hungry I workout a little harder. Add just an extra ten minutes to my cardio. The food you ingested is nothing more than fuel. You should not feel bad about the occasional holiday indulgence. If you are on a fitness and wellness journey, do not beat yourself up or restrict yourself. This causes hormonal changes that create stress, water and fat retention, and secretion of cortisol and norepinephrine. All things we want to avoid for the holidays so we can enjoy it better.
When next holiday season rolls around in 2021 I hope you follow these few and simple tips to help you through the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. We never need to fret, stress, or burnout for another or even ourselves.
At one point in time we are all new to the gym. The clank of the iron, everyone grunting, sweating and breathing loudly. This can all feel, look and seem very intimidating to a newcomer in the gym. I am here to tell you, everything is alright and there is nothing to be intimidated by! Here are some tips to help you get more comfortable with being in a gym setting. Tips to help you succeed and continue your journey rather than become discouraged and quit only a few short weeks after beginning.
1. Program it out!
First and foremost, if you are new to the gym have a plan when you arrive. Don't just come in and start going HAM on every piece of equipment you see. Having a plan sets you up for success, it also helps to keep you on track, focused and calm.
2. Music on world off!
This is a pretty important one even for a seasoned gym-goer like myself. Having music that YOU enjoy can boost your mood, hormone levels and give you focus to get through that workout with gusto and ease. Another thing to remember is that you won't always like the music playing in your new gym, and this is not something as a member we can control. Headphones allow you to get into your zone and focus on the movements at hand.
3. Colors are energy!
If you are lacking in a little energy or motivation grab yourself a great, bright colored outfit! There is science behind how colors affect our mood, you can read that here. You can also purchase a new outfit to show off! Being in something new always makes you feel better, don't neglect that feeling!
4. Sweat baby!
As a trainer, I often hear ladies tell me they don't want to sweat. I am here to tell you, get over this. Sweating is great for you! You lose excess fat (very small percentage), excess water weight, and toxins. Sweating is great for your skin as well! Sweating out impurities in the body for a healthier living.
5. Take it slow!
Whoever told you that you have to go HAM in the gym, slap them. You are new! Are you trying to get hurt? Keep in mind, the members you see around you that are already in shape have gone through their journey. They have taken the time to put in the work, it didn't happen overnight. Allow yourself time to take it slow. Plan your workouts, plan your recovery meals, plan your rest days. The important part is that you got up and made it to the gym to get active and take care of yourself today. You do not need to be an elite level athlete/gym-goer to achieve your goals or call yourself a lifter.
6. Down time!
If you're like me and being in a crowded gym after work gives you anxiety, try to find off-peak times to sneak in a workout. Many times the gym is going to be busier in the couple hours before everyone jets off to work, between 6-8am, and again when they are finished with their work day, between 4-7pm. If you aren't yet comfortable with being in the gym, these are not your time to go workout. Your best bet is to go between 9-3.
7. If you aren't sure, ask!
Listen, if you aren't sure of how a piece of equipment works or how to perform a specific movement, GRAB A TRAINER! Do not grab your front desk, they don't know anything and often times ARE NOT A CERTIFIED TRAINER. Trainers help keep you educated and safe, the front desk knows what they are shown, what they may have learned from a trainer in their sessions, and what they have been told by their managers. They are not here to help you in a fitness aspect. They take care of billing, other gym issues, and so on. ( I worked at a golds front desk for 5 years before becoming a trainer.) Keep in mind that a great trainer will help you and give you pointers and tips, don't take advantage. If you have that many questions, purchase a month and learn something for yourself and about yourself. Don't be THAT guy who can't ask for directions. ;)
8. Go your own way!
Don't worry about what the bodybuilder who has been lifting for years is doing. What the powerlifter/strongman athlete is working that day. Don't allow the bang of the HEAVY weight hitting the floor deter you from your own workout. In other words, focus on what you are doing rather than what those around you are doing. Many times we are off in our own world and unaware of what is going on around us. While this is something I fully disagree with at times it can be useful. In the gym it's okay to do your own thing and not worry about those around you. Keep it mindful though! Put your weights back, wipe down your equipment, and watch how close you get to others. You would not want the same for yourself, right?
So as you plan out your New Years Resolutions for your fitness, wellness, and health journey keep these few gym tips in mind! It never has to be difficult or cumbersome. Get a plan and stick to it. Unsure, ask questions this is how you learn and grow!
Note from the Team.
The blog about everything from mindful eating to healthy fat loss, drugs, natural supplementation and more!