Getting Healthy

Ten Tasteful Teas

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Herbs have been used in medicine in southern and eastern Asia for thousands of years, and drinking herbal tea has many health benefits—settling your stomach, burning fat, curing a cold, relieving muscle tension and twitching, calming the stomach, and so many more…

But as far as we’re concerned in “upgrading” this part of our daily routine, tea can play an important role in helping you sleep, easing anxiety, and washing away the stress of a long and hectic day.

Decaffeinated tea can be an absolutely wonderful sleep aid to help you fight insomnia in a “all-natural” way. After all, tea is made simply by infusing dried, crushed leaves or herbs in hot water…can’t get much more simple and “all-natural” than that, right?

But there is such a wide range of tea brands and varieties that choosing which tea to actually buy can seem mind-boggling….almost like choosing coffee or your favorite donut at Dunkin’ Donuts…

So which ARE best teas to help you sleep and relax?

The following is a list of types of tea best suited for helping to ensure a better sleep.

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1.Banana Tea—Dr. Oz RecipeNot only will banana tea help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, but bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help your blood vessels and muscles relax.

 

2.  Catnip TeaCatnip Tea?! Really?! Before now I only thought that catnip was just fun to give your cats, but the organic compound nepetalactone that is found in catnip is actually used in medicine to treat many things, including insomnia.

  

3.  Chamomile TeaOf course you’d expect chamomile tea on this list…after all, it is one of the most common teas on the market. Apigenin, an active compound found in chamomile tea, has been to help relieve anxiety so that you can feel more calm and de-stress from a otherwise extremely stressful day. There is so much that could be said about chamomile, but chamomile is the “essential oil of the month” for April, so stay tuned for more about this..

4.  Lavender TeaUsually the first “natural” ingredient that I think of when thinking about ways to help relieve stress and calm down for the night is lavender, but I never knew that you could buy lavender tea…actually I’d never looked for it before…

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5. Lemon Balm TeaLemon balm is a herb commonly used to treat insomnia and to help with anxiety and stress. Lemon balm is often combined with other herbs, such as chamomile and valerian, to create a very powerful tea for insomniacs.

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6. Oat Straw Tea…Oat straw tea is made from the grassy stem part of the oat plant. Oat straw is considered a “nutrient dense” herb and is especially great for soothing the nervous system, helping to manage everyday stress, cleansing the liver and gallbladder, and supporting a healthy circulatory system.

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7. Passion Flower TeaPassion flower tea is made from the leaves and vines of the passion plant, which is native to Mexico and Central America and was named “passion fruit” by  Spanish missionaries in Peru, who saw the flower’s design as being symbolic of the Passion of Christ. Passion flower tea contains many important nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.

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8.  Peppermint Tea…Peppermint tea is the tea of choice whenever you are looking for something to help calm stomach problems such as indigestion before you go to bed.

  

9. St John’s Wort TeaSt John’s Wort is a popular natural anti-depressant that helps relieve anxiety and stress, two of the most common causes of insomnia. But before using St. John’s Wort, make sure that is safe for you to use, based on your current state of health and any other medications you are currently taking.

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10. Valerian TeaThere has been much debate as to the effectiveness of valerian and valerian tea, in helping people deal with insomnia and anxiety, even though people have been using the root of the valerian plant for its sedative properties for centuries.




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Getting Healthy

Book Review…The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep

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This book is a guide about the connection between inadequate sleep and weight gain written particularly for women faced with the fatigue, moodiness, and weight gain that we often experience because of chronic stress or hormonal changes to show how a good night’s sleep will actually enable you to lose weight, especially if you have been chronically sleep deprived.

 

This book sparked my interest because who wouldn’t love it if all we had to do in order to lose weight was sleep…If this were truly the case, then we would all be skinny, because all of us sleep, right?!

 

The title,  The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book gives you the tools to overcome the stress, poor habits, and environmental challenges that are causing you not to get adequate rest. The author of the book is Michael Breus, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep expert.

The book shows how simple health and lifestyle changes can help increase your energy level, eliminate many health concerns, and help you lose weight loss without having to eat “rabbit food” every meal of spending a crazy amount of time spent exercising.

 

I enjoyed reading this book because I learned many things about how sleep affects your body—like how sleep boosts your metabolism, ignites fat burn, and decreases your appetite. I also liked the fact that the book provides information, advice, and practical strategies designed to help you get the sleep you need.

These tools include a realistic action plan designed to help you get both your best sleep and your best body possible, involving a slumber-friendly evening routine, stress management techniques, recipes for healthy meals and snacks all designed to help you fall asleep more easily.

Some of the key factors in losing weight while you sleep, according to this book are…

  • eating small meals that are high in protein and fiber every three to four hours
  • eliminating calorie-laden sodas and juices from your diet
  • substituting an olive oil cooking spray for butter or margarine
  • sticking to a specific sleep schedule
  • eliminating all caffeine after 2pm.
  • not drinking alcohol for three hours before going to bed
  • not exercising for four hours before going to bed
  • doing thirty minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise early in the day, most days of the week
Making Dinner Plans

20 Organic Food Subscription Boxes

 

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While we’re on the subject of healthy snacks, I thought that this would be a good time to share this list of twenty food subscription boxes again…

1.  Blue Apron

  • Who:  People who want to experiment with fun and creative recipes, avoid grocery shopping, and adventurous chefs who enjoy trying new ingredients.
  • What:  Fresh ingredients with seasonal recipes that are never repeated during the year.
  • How much: Prices start at $59.94/week (for a 2 person, 3 meals a week plan) and $69.92/week (for a 4 person, 2 meals a week plan)

2.  Batch

  • Who: People who enjoy Southern hospitality and food
  • What:  limited-edition, themed collection of handmade goods from Southern makers from Nashville, Memphis, Austin, and Charleston
  • How Much:  Batch’s holiday subscription box ships twice: February and May.Cost: Two-month subscription boxes cost $98 for standard or $198 for deluxe boxes. Their one-off, non-subscription boxes make fantastic gifts, too, and run from $39 to $119 a box.

3.  Carnivore Club

  • Who:  discerning carnivores
  • What:  Each month members receive an impressive faux-wood box filled with four to six of the very best artisanal curated cured meat,  featuring artisans from around the world. Each month’s box is themed around one producer specializing in a particular style of cured meats—such as French Charcuterie, Italian Salumi, Spanish Chorizo, South African Biltong and Artisanal Jerky.
  • How much:  Carnivore Club has a range of delivery options including monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.Cost: $50/month.

4.  Cocoa Runners

  • Who:  Chocolate connoisseurs
  • What:   A box of four different full-size chocolate bars, made from high-quality artisanal chocolate from around the world
  • How much:  $30/month

5.  Degustabox

  • Who:  adventuresome and trendy Foodstirs
  • What:  11-15 full-size food items that are new to the market.
  • How much: Regularly $19.99, but use coupon code DEGUSTA10 to get your first box for $9.99.

6.  Farm to People

  • Who:  people who are addicts to shopping at a farmer’s market.
  • What:  three to four products for “The Casual Foodie” box, or five to eight for “The Food Critic”…small-batch, artisanal goodies made with sustainable ingredients straight from farms across America… no GMOs and nothing artificial, ever.
  • How much:  $30/month for “The Casual Foodie” or $50/month for “The Food Critic”

7.  Graze


  • Who:  people looking for healthy, properly portioned, and nutritious snacks
  • What:  subscriber’s choice of eight of the 100 available choices of snacks…
  • How much: $11.99 for 8 snacks per box

8.  HelloFresh

  • Who: people who enjoy cooking healthy home-cooked meals
  • What:  meal subscription boxes that deliver fresh, nutritious, pre-portioned ingredients—including meat, fish, produce, and grains—along with chef-inspired recipe cards
  • How much:  offers options 3, 4 or 5 meals per week for 2 or for 4 people for basically $10-11.50/per person per meal

9.  Healthy Surprise

  • Who: people on a “clean eating” or paleo diet
  • What: a selection of all natural, 100% guilt-free, gluten-free, GMO, soy, corn, wheat, and gluten-free treats
  • How much:  starts  at $50/box for 15 full size snacks.

10.  Love with Food Tasting Box

  • Who: healthy snackers who like to “give back”
  • What:  12 to 15 natural and organic gluten-free and celiac-safe snacks and sweets…no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no artificial flavors/colors, and no high-fructose corn syrup
  • How much:  $10/box for 8 snacks…plus for every box Love With Food sends out, two meals are donated to a food bank in America.

11.  Mantry.

  • Who: men who like trying new snacks, liquors, prepared sauces, and mixes made in America.
  • What:  Branded, lidded wooden crates containing six full-size, non-perishable, stereotypically male-marketed artisan dude-friendly food products such as snacks, liquor, prepared sauces, or flavor enhancers…each box has a particular theme…past themes have included Bacon Nation, Tailgate Tour and Bourbon BBQ.
  • How much:  Each box costs $75.

12.  Nature Box

  • Who:  snackers who want to choose exactly what snacks go in their pack
  • What: a choice of 100+ super-healthy, super-delicious snacks, from chocolate hazelnut granola to sriracha rice crackers
  • How much:  $20 for 5 full-sized snack bags

13.  Orange Glad

  • Who:  people with a taste for exotic treats
  • What:  a gourmet dessert subscription box featuring tasty delights like Russian tea cakes and chocolate almond macaroons
  • How much: $20-$22/month depending on subscription length

14.  Peach Dish

  • Who:  people whose goal is to cook dinner more often and enjoy trying new recipes
  • What:  a meal kit delivery service offering Southern-infused seasonally inspired recipes to cook at home. Each kit includes all the ingredients along with a detailed, step-by-step instruction card needed to prepare for two dinner of the eight different meals offered each week (four meat/fish and four vegetarian). PeachDish also has a separate store on its website with desserts, jams, spice blends, flavored salts, meats, cookbooks, and more.
  • How much:  Prices vary based on how many servings you order. The minimum order is $50, which is the standard box that includes two meals each for two individuals, breaking down to $12.50 per person.

15.  Plated

  • Who:  people who don’t have the time or the energy to plan what’s for dinner, go to the grocery store, and get everything you need for the week
  • What:  all of the ingredients — except for salt, pepper, olive or vegetable oil, and eggs — and step-by-step cooking instructions printed on recipe cards for your choice of seven different meat, seafood, and vegetarian dinners
  • How much:  $48/box…all of the meal kits serve two people at $12 per person. You can choose anywhere from two to seven dinners per week. You can also upgrade any dinner to a Chef’s Table dinner, which includes specialty cuts of meat and seafood, for additional $2 to $18 per person, per dinner…and add dessert to the box for $4 per person, per dessert. The most popular kit is three dinners a week for $72.

16.  Treatsie

  1. Who:  chocolate lovers and those with a sweet tooth
  2. What:  a box of up to $25 worth of delicious artisan sweets—cookies and chocolate to candies and caramel—from three different candy makers each month—indie candy labels, small batch artisanal sweets, and other under-the-radar goodness. You can also choose a subscription that only sends candy bars.
  3. How much:  $20 per month

17.  Try The World

  • Who:  world travelers with foreign tastes
  • What:  tasty treats from other countries, such as cookies from Paris and turkish delights from Turkey
  • How much:  $29-$39 per box

18.  Turntable Kitchen

  • Who. hostesses that would like to find rising artists, enjoy an original menu, get to know unique ingredients, and wow their friends with a playlist of the best new music each month.
  • What:  Pairings Box with perfectly coordinated soundtrack and menu—includes  three seasonal recipes, one or two dried ingredients, a digital mixtape, and a limited-edition vinyl record.
  • How much:  $25/month

19.  Vegan Cuts

  • Who:  vegans and other people interested in finding new gluten-free snacks
  • What:  10 or more vegan-certified snacks (from soda to kale chips
  • How much:  $20 per month

20. Vegin’ Out

  • Who:  vegetarians and vegans interested in having convenient, completely pre-made, customizable meals
  • What:  3 vegetarian vegan entrees, 4 vegetarian vegan side dishes, 1 vegetarian vegan soup, and 5 vegan cookies
  • How much: $128-$170 depending on location
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Nut Butters

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Shopping for a nut butter can get overwhelming quickly. There are so many options—almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower, coconut, soy, walnut, multi-nut, hazelnut—and you want to make sure that you are choosing the best of the best.

Things to look for when shopping for a nut butter…

  1. Full Fat...reduced fat butters usually have a ton of sugar and other processed ingredients such as corn syrup solids to give the nut butter the “feel” of a full-fat version
  2. Little or no hydrogenated oils
  3. Low Salt Content
  4. Minimal Added Sugar
  5. No processed ingredients or stabilizers
  6. None of the following words on the label…these words all indicate that the nut butter has tons of added sugar and is more like a dessert—chocolate, flavored, honey/honey nut/honey roasted/honey flax, maple, nutella/hazelnut, vanilla
  7. Requires refrigeration…betters should NOT be able to sit out without going rancid.
  8. Requires stirring…nuts are primarily fat. When you grind them up and store them, the fat should separate from the ground up nuts….if not, some sort of palm oil or hydrogenated oil has been added.
  9. Short ingredients list…ingredients should literally just be whatever nuts are in the butter and salt

 

 

Almond Butters

Almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts…a great source of riboflavin, magnesium, manganese, vitamin E, flavonoids, healthy fats, calcium, B vitamins, copper, phosphorus, molybdenum, monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein.

Almond butter can be a good choice for ensuring healthy metabolism, fighting heart disease and cancer, helping combat heart disease, and preventing osteoporosis.

Some of the healthiest almond butters available include…

  • Barney Butter Bare Almond Butter
  • Blue Mountain Organics Almond Butter
  • Dastony 100% Organic Stone-Ground Raw Almond Butter
  • Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
  • MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter or Organic Almond Butter
  • Trader Joe’s Creamy Almond Butter
  • Whole Foods 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Butter

 

Peanut Butters

Peanut butter is obviously the most popular of all nut butters…a great source of B vitamins, copper, manganese, protein, molybdenum, phosphorus, and vitamin E.

Some of the healthiest peanut butters available include…

  • MaraNatha Organic Peanut Butter
  • Nutzo Original Peanut
  • Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter
  • Smucker’s Organic Natural Peanut Butter
  • Santa Cruz Organics Peanut Butter
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter
  • Whole Foods 365 Organic Unsweetened Peanut Butter

 

Sun Butters...Sunflower seed butter, a great alternative for those with tree nut allergies, can provide even more fiber, magnesium and vitamin E than traditional nut butters…and are also a wonderful source of protein, B vitamins, folic acid, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, healthy fats, and fiber. A great “sun butter” to try is MaraNatha Sunflower Seed Butter.

Getting Healthy

Protein Bites

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Getting adequate amounts of protein is important for all women, not only die-hard athletes.

Adequate protein is important for both appearance and long-term health, especially among active women….(okay, now find me one woman who is not active…usually we have more on our plate than one person could possibly handle, right)…

So why is protein so important…and why should we find ways to eat more protein at breakfast…and how…

  1. Protein can keep us, or help us get, skinny. Replacing calories consumed in carbs with calories containing protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.
  2. Protein can prevent damage to our cells caused by stress.
  3. Protein controls hunger all day. Eating a high-protein meal, such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, early in the day triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day.
  4. Protein is good for your bones, especially important given the high risk of osteoperosis in women. Protein is vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth.
  5. Protein is good for your hair. A well-balanced diet is important to keep your hair growing to its fullest. Protein deficiency can cause your hair to grow slowly or not at all.
  6. Protein is good for your muscles. Protein can help our bodies maintain and build muscle mass, important to women as we age. Drinking a protein shake or eating a high-protein snack after working out also helps promote muscle repair.
  7. Protein is good for your skin. Protein can help reduce aging and skin damage caused by the sun.
  8. Protein triggers thermogenesis, also known as a “faster metabolism,” and signals the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.
  9. Protein will keep you fuller longer. Eating foods high in protein makes you feel fuller sooner than foods classified as carbs or fat and helps controls appetite later on.

 

“Protein bites” are a great way to boost your energy levels and “recharge” your batteries throughout the day…plus they are super-easy to make…

 

(Simply combine the ingredients, chill for thirty minutes, and roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge, unless indicated otherwise…so this is why I’ve simply listed ingredients, instead of directions with each of the following “recipes.”)

 

 

 

 

1. Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

 

2.  Chocolate Protein Bite…(roll in cocoa after shaped)

  • 1 1/2C pitted dates
  • 1/2C rolled oats
  • 1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4C flaxseed meal
  • 1/4C chocolate protein powder
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp espresso powder

 

 

 

3. Coconut Peanut Butter Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

 

 

4. Nutella Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned, rolled oats
  • ½C crispy rice cereal (or shredded coconut)
  • ½C Nutella
  • ¼C peanut butter
  • ½C ground flaxseed
  • ⅓C honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • ½C chocolate chips

 

 

5. Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1/4C pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2C wheat germ
  • 1/3C honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

 

 

6. Raw Cookie Dough Bites

  • 2C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1/4C coconut oil (solid but soft)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 2Tbsp almond butter
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • mini dark chocolate chips
  • stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed
Getting Healthy

Midnight Snacking

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Blame your midnight refrigerator raids and before-bed snacks on your circadian rhythm, or inner time clock…or come up with any other excuse that you can possibly think of, but how many of us find ourselves raiding the refrigerator in our pajamas  before we go to bed every night or while anyone in their right mind would be asleep?

 

Honestly does it really matter why we find ourselves nibbling away, but instead which snacks should you choose at night?

Thankfully not all midnight or before-bed snacks are that bad for you, and some snacks can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 

So exactly which “health-conscious snacks” should you grab first when raiding the fridge at night?

 

In order to make sure that your bedtime snack can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are certain ingredients to look for. These ingredients, as well as sources for these ingredients, include…

1. Carbohydrates

  • Why carbs?…Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin and melatonin and help reset your circadian rhythm. Carbs also increase your insulin levels, which in turn affects the levels of the crucial sleep-regulating gene PER2 so that you’re drowsy when you should be.

How carbs?

  • Bananas…Bananas are the perfect bedtime snack…not only because bananas contain not only healthy, complex carbs…but also abundant amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals which help your muscles relax, and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin….(more on this below)…
  • Popcorn…Air-popped popcorn contains only thirty calories per cup and is an ideal late-night-TV-watching snack food.
  • Whole-Grain Crackers…The high-fiber content and low glycemic index of whole grains create a steady stream of glucose in your system throughout the night.

 

 

2.  Folate

Why folate? Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people.

How folate?

  • Hummus...The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are not only rich in folate, but also vitamin B and tryptophan.

 

3.  Magnesium

Why magnesium?…Magnesium is a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Yet studies have shown that nearly 70% of adults do not get enough magnesium in their daily diets. Magnesium deficiency has been linked not only to insomnia, but muscle cramps, which can also disrupt sleep.

  • Almonds and Almond Butter…Almonds are a great source of magnesium…so grabbing a handful of almonds or enjoying a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep longer. (more on nut butters next post)…
  • Granola…Granola, oats, and other whole grain foods not only contain those all-important snooze-promoting carbs mentioned above, but also contain magnesium.
  • Lentils…Lentils are a superfood that are not only a great source of magnesium, potassium, and protein…but also are high in fiber and low in fat, so you can enjoy them without worrying about gaining weight.

 

4. Melatonin

  • Why melatonin? Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that regulates your internal clock and basically tells your body when it’s time for bed. We talked about melatonin as a supplement in an earlier post, but there are foods that actually contain natural melatonin as well, such as…

How melatonin?

  • Cherries and Cherry Juice…Cherries and cherry juice, especially the tart variety, are rich sources of melatonin, as well as antioxidants and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that people who drink eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily fall asleep sooner and then sleep an average hour-and-half longer than those who don’t.
  • Walnuts…Walnuts another natural source of melatonin….not to mention that they’re just plain good to eat.

 

4.  Protein

Why protein? Protein helps create tryptophan, the sleep-promoting amino acid (see below)…

How protein?

  • Edamame...Edamame is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese...Cheese is full of casein proteins, which provide sleep-inducing tryptophan. Actually cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey, gram for gram. Eating cheese thirty minutes before going to bed not only will help you fall asleep faster, but has also been shown to improve your metabolism.

 

5.  Tryptophan

  • Why tryptophan? Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid that the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles.

How tryptophan?

  • Cereal and Milk…Milk already contains tryptophan, but adding the carbohydrates of a good whole-grain, low-sugar cereal makes this tryptophan more easily available to the brain.
  • Greek Yogurt…Not only does Greek yogurt contain tryptophan, but Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein and calcium, both of which can help regulate melatonin production and help you get your sleeping habits in check.
  • Peanut Butter…Most of us grew up loving peanut butter, and my Dad would always peanut butter before bed every night when I was growing up. Wonder if he knew that his favorite night-time snack was rich in tryptophan…(or if he really cared?).
  • Pumpkin Seeds...Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of essential nutrients,including substantial amounts of tryptophan.

 

Three final important tips as far as midnight snacking…

  • Avoid sugary snacks at bedtime because these will cause a quick glucose spike that can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Be sure to keep these midnight or pre-bed snacks light. Keep your selection as a 150 to 200 calories actual snack, instead of another complete meal in itself.
  • Eat no later than thirty minutes before bed so that your body has enough time to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Try One of These Ten…and Let the Sweet Dreams Begin

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As I sit here this morning, writing this…I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and all seems right with the world…until all chaos and the “resident four year old” also wakes up and the day eventually drags on and on until I am barely able to drag myself back into bed and begin the entire cycle all over again tomorrow.

Sounds like the life of each and every single one of us, right?

And that’s on those mornings when we have had a good night’s sleep…

We have enjoyed that deep, long periods of eight to nine hours of healthy, restorative sleep that is so important for recharging the body and mind, releasing important hormones, repairing cells and muscles, slowing down the aging process, strengthening the immune system, and doing so many more things that are important for the health of the mind and body.

What an awesome feeling to wake up ready to set our feet on the floor and tackle the world.

Wish I could say that about every single morning…

 

But truth is, like the one-in-three individuals, or seventy million Americans, who will also be heading out the door late to work and driving way over the speed limit in order to get to work on time this morning, I rarely get such rejuvenating and reparative sleep anymore because like, so many of us, I suffer with mild to severe insomnia…an insomnia that has most likely become such as epidemic in today’s fast-paced, technology-saturated world…a lifestyle that seems to be making it difficult for any of us to enjoy a “good night’s rest” anymore.

 

So what can we do about this lack of sleep?

So far in this “Now What” section, we have looked at using breathing techniques and essential oils to help ourselves catch up on sleep.

Another option, but an option that so many people seem to abuse these days, would be “sleeping pills.”

 

Yeah, I know…this is supposed to be a blog about my learning to live a healthier and more “politically correct” lifestyle, so I’d be the last one to pop an over-the-counter pill hoping to finally get some sleep…

In fact, both over-the-counter and prescription sleep meds are probably not even worth checking into, for several reasons. These include…

  • They stop working quite quickly.
  • They can cause even sleepless nights, than preventing sleepless night after using them for a time.
  • They prevent us from feeling “awake, alert, and all full of energy”—instead of actually making us sleepy.
  • They will quite negatively impact our energy levels the day after we take it.
  • They may create side effects, such as drowsiness, headaches, nasal congestion, memory loss, muscle aches, double vision, diarrhea, and swollen lymph nodes.
  • They are also highly addictive.
  • They can be addicting.
  • They can cause you to “build up a tolerance” for them after taking them for so long, meaning that you now have to take even a higher dosage to get the same benefits that you were getting at first.
  • They can actually make you sleep problems worse, instead of better.

 

However, there are some safer-but still-effective, science-backed proven sleep supplements that can offer a “natural” way to help you get to sleep faster, sleep deeper during the night…and get the rest you need to stop this endless cycle of exhaustion. Supplements such as…

 

 1. 5-HTP…5-HTP is an amino acid that produces and stockpiles the serotonin we naturally lose as we age by actually converting into serotonin in the brain itself and then helping  to manufacture melatonin, the “feel good” hormone. This amino acid can be found profoundly important for not only sleep and mood, but also learning, sexual behavior, and hormone regulation…and is commonly used to treat depression and insomnia that’s secondary to mood disorders and increase REM sleep. A good option to help you get this amino acid would be Dr. Lipman’s Be Well Sleep Bundle.

2.  Flower Essences…Flower essences, such as Bach Rescue Sleep Remedy, can be a good option for those “insomniacs” who are not actually struggling with a serious sleep problem, but do occasionally need some help traveling to the Land of Nod off. Flower essences are made by infusing spring water with various flowers. The most common flowers used to make these flower essence remedies are cherry plum, impatiens, and white chestnut. Flower essences work by helping to quiet racing thoughts, ease a restless mind, and calm frazzled nerves. These essences are particularly great for using to help children fall asleep…(well in that case, I’m going all out and ordering every single bottle and container of flower essences available on Amazon right now(?!))…

 

3.  GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid) is a naturally-occurring acid produced in the brain that acts to help calm down the excitatory neurotransmitters, also known as our “fight or flight mechanisms,” and to wake up our parasympathetic nervous system, our “rest and digest” system.

GABA calms and relaxes both the body and muscles so that you feel very calm, drowsy and ready for a good, long night of sleep—both in terms of quantity and quality…and then helps you to get the truly restorative sleep that you need in order to wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings.

 

4. Holy Basil…Holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

Holy basil, available in forms such as New Chapter’s Holy Basil Force, works by moderating the levels of cortisol, a naturally-occurring chemical that normally spikes between 6am and 8am to wake us up.

But often when we are under a lot of stress or going through something emotional, our cortisol levels can get out of whack and leave us consistently waking up at 3am or 4am instead…and who in their right mind wants to wake up that early…except for my spouse when he’s going fishing perhaps…

 

5. L-theanine...L-theanine, the ingredient that makes green tea such a great antioxidant and “superfood,” also has a calming effect on the brain because it impacts levels of the amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

L-theanine is available by itself as tablets and capsules, or else combined with other sleep-inducing nutrients, such as this Reserveage Nutrition Beauty R&R.

6.  Magnesium…Magnesium is a mineral that many of us have a deficiency in. This mineral improves sleep by decreasing the body’s release of cortisol, working with calcium to help muscles contract and then relax. Natural Vitality Natural Calm Specifics Calmful Sleep.

7.  Melatonin…Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland that keeps us alert during the day and helps us fall asleep at night.

Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid, although melatonin was actually formulated not to treat general insomnia, but to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal clock,” when it is disrupted because of jet lag, unusual work schedules, parenting young children who have the guts to keep you waking up through the night, and days like today when the switch to/from Daylights Savings Time totally whacks your system and makes you late for church.

Many experts claim that liquid or quick-dissolving melatonin, such as Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve, work best because these allow the hormone to be absorbed directly into the body.

 

8. Skullcap…Skullcap is a herb that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. This safe, mild herbal sedative excels in relieving anxiety and insomnia, and boosting energy and cognition. A good supplement containing skullcap would be Flora Sleep Essence.
9.  Valerian Root…Valerian root, such as Nature’s Way Valerian Root, is a  mild sedative that can be very helpful in helping to calm the nervous system by lowering the anxiety response and promoting relaxation and sleep without causing a major hangover or histamine coma or fog.

 

 

10.  Vitamin Supplement...Perhaps the cure for your insomnia and/or sleepless nights could be as simple as taking a multivitamin supplement. After all, Vitamin B helps tryptophan in your body convert to niacin and serotonin, which regulate sleep and increase REM, and Vitamin D can remedy daytime drowsiness while improving overall well-being.

Getting Healthy

Music and Sleep

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Listening to about 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed can help you relax and fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning.

Listening to the “right” kind of music can slow down your heart rate to the 60-beats-per-minute range needed to enter the “sleep zone,” help you breathe easier, and lower your blood pressure.

 

The “right” kind of music can masks background noise,

The “right” kind of music can shorten stage two sleep cycles and help you reach restful REM sleep, the restorative part of our sleep, more quickly.

The “right” kind of music can blocking both disruptive external sounds, such as traffic, and internal sounds, such as tinnitus.

The “right” kind of music can fill in uncomfortable silences.

And the “right” kind of music can provide a sense of companionship and security.

 

So what is the “right” kind of music to listen to if I want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

Music is a always a matter of personal preference…(just ask any Southern Baptist about their preference between singing hymns or 7-11, seven words sung eleven times, songs in big church)…

But there are certain things to keep in mind when choosing the music that you do listen to at night, such as…

  • Beats Per Minute…Choose something that has a rhythm of about sixty to eighty beats per minute.
  • Familiarity…Choose something that you actually are familiar with and like.
  • Neutrality…Choose music that does not evoke strong emotions.
  • Pitch Perfect…Choose music with lower pitches, nobody wants or needs to hear anyone scream and squeal right before they go to sleep and tranquil melodies.
  • Rhythm…Choose music a regular rhythm, not too much syncopation.
  • Words…Choose music without words…it’s more likely to make you sleepy. Our good friends Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not to mention Frederic Chopin, have written enough music to fill our playlists from here to eternity.

So what IS the “right” kind of music to listen to if you want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

The “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change may not be, and probably will not be the “right” kind of music for any other person on this planet Earth.

So the “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change should be music that you choose, based on what you like and what you need from the music at the time.

But to get an idea of the type of music and playlists that have worked for other people, take a look at these top  “sleep” playlists from Spotify and these options available from Bedtime Beats.


Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Essential Glow

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Glow: Recipes & Tips for Using Essential Oils is an all-inclusive guide to natural beauty written for people who would like to learn how to use essential oils in their daily lives to boost their beauty, home, and general wellness.

This book sparked my interest because I am just now starting to use essential oils in my home now that I have started this journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

The title, Essential Glow, is appropriate for the book because the book was written by the same people who host the popular Hello Glow website—the ultimate source for daily inspiration, recipes, projects, and tips for living a healthy, mindful life and learning more about natural beauty and wellness.

The author of the book is Stephanie Gerber, a Nashville-based natural living blogger, who has also written…Stephanie Gerber says that she believes that “the journey to well-being can and should be, simple and beautiful, natural and stylish.”

The book is filled with over two hundred simple recipes and tutorials for making organic skincare and haircare-products, household cleaners, and even cosmetics at home…all using essential oils…including recipes for laundry softeners, all purpose cleaners, steam tablets, masks, bath oils, and invigorating scrubs.

Getting Healthy

Book Review…Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes

 

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes is a guide book about essential oils written to “introduce you to the world of essential oils and aromatherapy.”

The book was written primarily for beginners who have absolutely no prior knowledge about using essential oils and carrier oils.to show how to use them properly…

This book sparked my interest because so many of the natural body care and skincare products that I will be making and sharing in the near future contain them.

The title, Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes, is appropriate for the book because the book explains everything in simple, easy to understand steps..

The purpose of the book–showing how to use essential oils  properly-is carried out throughout the book as evident by the fact that the book tells the reader how to store your essential oils and carrier oils, and the fact that It is important to know what you are doing when you are using essential oils because some essential oils can do things such as increase UV light/sunlight sensitivity and affect your hormones.

According to the introduction, this book promises to teach you a natural treatment that takes care of both your mental and physical health at the same time…how to cure your common cold without the use of drugand how to start the day exploding with motivation and energy, whilst finishing the day calm, content and stress-free.all through the proper application of essential oils.

The author of the book is Amy Joyson.

The main idea of the book is that both your health and vitality can be improved through the use of essential oils.

My favorite part of the book was definitely the over 100 recipes for natural body and skincare products, as well as home cleaning products because this is something that I am focusing on right now in both my life and my blog…recipes to enhance your calm or self-esteem and confidence, to uplift your mood, to support your detox and many, many more.

Other topics discussed include what aromatherapy is and how you can use aromatherapy at home for stress relief and weight loss, what carrier oils are and how to use them, and what exactly essential oils are and how they work in the body.

I highly recommend this book, and feel that you will also be happy that you bought it.