Getting Healthy

Back Where I’m From, Sweet Tea Flows Like Water

In an earlier post, we had look at the best teas for helping you get to sleep, but this time let’s look at tea as far as helping you stay hydrated. Later as we move up the pyramid, we’ll then look at tea again as we clean out our spice cabinet and learn what’s really in all those red and white McCormick canisters that have probably been there for how long?

 

Tea obviously contains water…

After all, tea is made by infusing dried, crushed leaves or herbs in hot water

 

And tea contains herbs…

Herbal tea has been used in medicine in southern and eastern Asia for thousands of years, and drinking herbal tea has many health benefits—such as settling your stomach, burning fat, curing a cold, relieving muscle tension and twitching, calming the stomach, improving your mood, helping to manage stress, helping you lose weight, and helping you feel less stressed, sad, or anxious.

The people of the ancient Shang dynasty in China first introduced to our side of the globe by serving it to Portuguese missionaries during the 16th Century. The popularity of tea spread quickly throughout Europe and Asia.

 

But which tea?!

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 teas are best for when?!

Just like everything else, each of us probably has an opinion on which tea is their favorite, which brand to buy, how to make it, and so forth…

So in this post I have decided to simply list as many different types of tea as I could think of, and start exploring these different types of tea before we reach the herbs/spices rung of the Raw Foods Pyramid.

 

  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. Basil Tea…Basil tea is made with fresh or dried herbs. Basil tea is perfect for helping with digestion.
  3. Black Tea…Black tea contains a lot of caffeine, which will obviously, or hopefully, help you stay awake and alert throughout the day….as well as other health benefits—such as repairing lung damage caused by cigarette smoke exposure and reducing the potential of stroke.
  4. 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.
  5. Chai Tea...The traditional Indian spices in chai tea serve as a natural stimulant—helping to facilitate energy production within the body, boosting energy and mental clarity—all without that afternoon, post-caffeine crash.
  6.  Chamomile TeaChamomile Tea does the opposite of black tea…instead of  providing you with a huge dose of caffeine to keep you overstimulated and hyper all day, chamomile tea helps get rid of all that anxiety and stress. Chamomile tea has also been shown to provide many more health benefits—such as boosting blood circulation, getting rid of bloating and indigestion, and helping you get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Ginger Tea…Ginger tea provides just enough of a boost of natural energy boost to keep you feeling like you can tackle the world, improves circulation, and helps whenever you are feeling nauseous,
  8. Green Tea…Green tea can calm you down and make you feel relaxed. It contains L-theanine that boosts the brain waves, giving you a similar sensation that is experienced during meditation.Green Tea will help relieve a whole host of ailments including a slow metabolism and icommonly called the ‘wonder tea’….It’s packed with antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure and even fights tooth decay.
  9. Honeybush Tea…This caffeine-free tea has a sweet, fragrant taste. Honeybush has a calming effect, reducing stress and easing the mind. It is also a powerful antioxidant, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  10.  Indian masala chai…can keep your mind positive every day. It has properties that can lift up your mood and make you feel happier. This chai promotes positivity by stimulating your body to generate serotonin, a chemical that stabilizes the mood.
  11.  Lavender TeaLavender tea treats a variety of ailments, like agitation, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender is known for its mood stabilizing properties, reducing stressful feelings and acting as a muscle relaxant.Usually 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…Lavender tea is your best option whenever you are sleepless. It promotes relaxation that places you in a sound and undisrupted sleep. Drinking lavender tea can also help improve blood circulation, and keep your nervous system in top condition. You can drink a cup every day before bedtime.
  12. Lemon or Orange Tea….to boost your mood. These two teas taste great and are effective in relaxing your body. Their scent will also calm you down.
  13.  Lemon Balm Tea…Lemon balm is an herb in the mint family. It has been used for thousands of years to induce a clam state. It promotes restful sleep, improving impulse control and reducing feelings of rage…Lemon Balm TeaLemon Balm Tea…Lemon Balm tea is good for anxiety, panic attacks and if you are feeling stressed. Adding a little honey to herbal teas is also beneficial and can make them a little more palatable too….Lemon 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.
  14.  Lemon Verbena Tea…Lemon verbena is a plant native to South America. This herb, also known as lemon beebrush, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps regulate hormones. It’s mood-boosting properties help to reduce anxiety and depressive thoughts.
  15. Lemongrass tea…. This tea contains essential oils that help your body calm down. It is the best natural anti-depressant.
  16. 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.
  17. Oolong Tea…Oolong tea is high in antioxidants and is known to reduce bad cholesterol levels. For years, it has been considered the best tea for weight loss for both men and women. For the most optimal benefits, it is important to consume at least one glass, 2 to 3 times every day.
  18. 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.
  19. Peppermint Tea…Peppermint tea can help calm your mind and body. It is the best tea for your emotional wellness. If you have been suffering from a heart-breaking experience, all you need is a sip from peppermint tea. You should feel better after emptying a cup….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 bedPeppermint tea is known to soothe an upset stomach. It helps reduce nausea, stomach cramps, heartburn and motion sickness. It is also a known antispasmodic, reducing the chance of vomiting…Peppermint Tea….If you are feeling bloated, you can’t go past good old
  20. Rooibos Tea…This sweet, nutty tea is popular in South African countries. It is naturally caffeine-free, yet boots memory, focus and concentration. Rooibos tea also relives nervous tension and improves mental clarity.
  21. 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.
  22. Tart Cherry Tea…Tart cherry tea is for the anxious people. It is effective against anxiety or restlessness. Drinking a cup of tart cherry tea will slow down the blood flow, just like how the lavender tea works. You will begin to feel more relaxed afterwards.
  23. 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.
  24. White Tea…White tea is both unfermented and uncured. In addition, is known for its potent anti-cancer properties, and is also shown to be highly effective for weight loss.

 helping you feel refreshed and optimistic….

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And To All A Good Night (Review)

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

My initial goal when starting this blog was to take you on my journey to establishing a bed and breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi…but this dream has taken a sudden backseat as we now find ourselves raising our grandson…becoming a “new mother” at the age of fifty.

So this has been a journey, or “Now What,” series of posts on taking the “sleeping aspect” of my daily life and learning how to make it better…Lord knows that I need to this, being the 49 year old mother for a four year old.

 

Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. How well you sleep each night can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Lack of sleep can…

  • Affect performance on the job or at school
  • Cause countless headaches
  • Cause increased irritability of the person who has had trouble sleeping
  • Cause the immune system to function poorly
  • Cause us to become more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient during the day
  • Damage relationships
  • Decrease the quality of work performance
  • Diminish quality of life
  • Give you a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically.
  • Hinder our ability to stay focused for long periods of time
  • Make certain activities, especially driving, dangerous for both ourselves and people around us
  • Make getting started on even the easiest work or school assignments even harder than normal
  • Make you gain weight
  • Make you have less energy to tackle the day ahead
  • Sabotage our health
  • Sap our energy levels
  • Slow the ability of the nervous system to process information and translate visual cues into conscious thought.

I have personally found that having such a “nightly routine” of soothing transitional activity between my being awake and actually falling asleep helps your sleep quality and overall wellness….just like it probably did when my kids were little, and does for my “resident four year old.”

The following is a summary of the tips that I have learned lately to help create a relaxing ritual that I can do each and every night that will help me fall asleep faster and more consistently…healthy bedtime habits—such as meditation, soothing music, essential oils—that will help program your mind to get ready for bed.

Breathing Techniques

  • Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 Technique
  • Kapalbhati Breathing
  • Nadi Shodhana
  • Pranayamic Breathing Techniques
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Essential Oils for helping to cure insomnia..

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang ylang

Music

Supplements

  • 5-HTP
  • Flower essences
  • GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid)
  • Holy basil
  • L-theanine
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian Root
  • Vitamin Supplement

 

Snacks

 

  • Almonds and Almond Butter
  • Bananas
  • Cereal and Milk
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese
  • Cherries and Cherry Juice
  • Edamame
  • Granola
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Whole-Grain Crackers

Tea

  • Banana
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oat Straw
  • Passion Flower
  • Peppermint
  • St John’s Wort
  •  Valerian

Apps

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

There’s An App for That

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

Adults “should” supposedly get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Yeah, dream on…right?!

This amount of sleep is said to be important in order to promote optimal health and well-being.

Not getting this many hours of sleep can lead to weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke…as well as an impaired immune system, a decrease in cognitive performance, and an increased risk of accidents.

 

But some nights I find myself lucky if I can only get about two or three hours of  such “quality” sleep.

The fact is that studies have shown that one in every three adults are not getting this “required” amount of sleep on a regular basis. These days nearly nine million Americans take some sort of medication to help them sleep each night.

 

But the answer that so many of us are looking for in our quest for better sleep could simply be right in our hand most of the day, if we knew what we were looking for.

Assuming that you are actually have your phone in your hand and are no longer looking for it, let’s take a look at some of the top-rated sleep apps that have been designed to help us each find these recommended seven hours of quality sleep each night that we all have been looking for.


1. Digipill

  • Cost…Android: Free…iPhone: Free…
  • How It Works…Choose one of several available 30-minute “audio treatment pill.” Each “pill” is formulated for a particular ailment—such as “Sleep Deeply,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Power Nap”—based on your current needs.
  • Review

 

2. Good Morning Alarm Clock

  • Cost…Android: Free…iPhone: $3.99
  • Purpose…to help you feel more rested and alert upon awakening with its built-in smart alarm
  • How It Works…wakes you up during your natural waking phase, provides essential statistics from the night before on a straightforward sleep graph and aggregates your statistics weekly to allow you to track sleep debt and sleep quality, plays relaxing sounds or a playlist featuring your favorite songs to help both lull you to sleep and wake up in the morning, will alert you if you are getting less sleep than you need.
  • Review

 

3. MotionX 24/7

  • Purpose…#1 top paid medical application—all-in-one sleep tracker, sleep cycle alarm, snore, apnea, heart rate monitor, weight loss and activity tracker
  • How It Works…measures and correlates resting heart rate, monitors advanced sleep cycles with smart alarms and power naps, allows you to set goals—such as 5,000 steps per day or 7 hours of sleep per night and monitor your progress.
  • Review

 

4.  Noisli

  • Cost…Android: $1.99…iPhone: $1.99…
  • Purpose…to help treat insomnia, reduce stress, relax while reading, and alleviate headaches and migraines by quietening distracting background noises…to achieve improved concentration and productivity while working, or to create a chilled audio environment for yoga, meditation, and sleep
  • How It Works…allows you to mix and save a personalized combination of sounds—rain, wind, thunderstorms, leaves, and water streams, coffee shop bustle, white noise—to create your perfect stress-free atmosphere.
  • Review

5. Pillow

5. Pillow

  • Title…Cost…iPhone: Free…
  • Purpose
  • How It Works…uses motion and sound pattern detection to plots the times you are awake and in the different phases of sleep…keeps track of sleep session statistics—such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, dietary calories, and caffeine and alcohol consumption—to analyze how these measures are affecting your sleep quality.
  • Review

 

IMG_5125

6. Pzizz

  • Cost…Android: Free…iPhone: Free…
  • How It Works…uses over a hundred billion slightly different sound effects—including psychoacoustics, sound sequences, dynamic dreamscapes, neurolinguistic programming, music, binaural beats—tailor-made for each portion of the sleep cycle
  • Purpose…to help you relax, re-energize and get better sleep
  •  Review

 

7. Recolor

  • Cost…Android: Free…iPhone: Free…
  • Purpose…to help you relax and to relieve stress by channeling this anxiety into making a satisfying and creative “work of art”
  • How It Works…select one of the images from an alphabetically-organized library of more than 1,000 images—animals, pictures of food, sports, pop art, scenery, and sea life—and then use the app’s bold and uplifting color palette with various shades and hues to complete your “work of art”
  • Review

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

April Essential Oil of the Month—Chamomile…The Why?

Chamomile, an aromatic herb, has been used throughout most of the world for many centuries and is one of the most ancient and versatile medicinal herbs known to mankind. The plant, with its white daisy like flowers and scent reminiscent of apples or pineapple, is native to Europe and western Asia.

  1. Stress and Anxiety...Chamomile is one the best medicinal herbs for helping to lower stress and anxiety because chamomile helps to increase the levels of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that slow down your mind and eliminate the classic symptoms of stress and anxiety—such as hysteria, nightmares, insomnia, and various digestive problems. Drinking one or two cups of chamomile tea per day or inhaling chamomile essential oils through a diffuser are often recommended as natural remedies for stress, anxiety, and depression.
  2. Skin…Chamomile is often used topically on the skin to help fight skin irritation, heal wounds, treat skin conditions such as eczema, and lessen the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles on the face. Try this recipe for a “natural” Calamine lotion to treat mosquito bites during the summer…
  3. Sleep…Drinking a warm cup of non-caffeinated chamomile tea or diffusing it in the home diffuser can be a very powerful sleep aid, particularly for people who are struggling with restless sleep, insomnia, or other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
  4. Menstrual Discomfort…Chamomile tea is often used when dealing with the symptoms of menstruation—like PMS, bloating, cramping, sweating, inability to sleep, and mood swings. Chamomile tea is often also used in some parts of the world, such as Mexico, to soothe the body and mind and to relax abdominal muscles after giving birth.
  5. Immune SystemChamomile works as both an anti-histamine and an antioxidant, meaning that it can strengthen your body’s immune response to allergens in the body and soothe these allergic reactions before they become serious. The phenolic compounds in chamomile tea have been proven specifically good at fighting bacterial infections in the body, and that six glasses of chamomile tea consumed over a two-week timeframe can significantly improve the body’s ability to fight off  any infections.
  6. Gastrointestinal Issues...Chamomile has been used in many cultures for various stomach ailments—such as upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, mild bloating, IBS symptoms, gas, acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, and motion sickness.
  7. Diabetes…Chamomile helps lower blood sugar levels, regulate the amount of insulin in the blood, and prevent massive drops and spikes in blood sugar.
  8. Pain…Chamomile has been referred to as an “herbal aspirin” and has been a popular home remedy for centuries in reducing pain—especially pain associated with arthritis, injuries, back pain, fevers, and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

 

Getting Healthy

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

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

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
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

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

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

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

Essential Oils—“Aromatic” Use

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

In order to enjoy the aromatic benefits of an essential oil, you could obviously take a few drops from the bottle into the palm of your hands, cup your hands around your mouth and nose, and inhale deeply for as long as needed…

…or simply hold the bottle of essential oil a few inches from your nose and breathe in the aroma…

or…add a drop or two of the essential oil to your pillowcase or pajama shirt, I guess…

 

 

But a much easier and smarter method would be through diffusion.

Diffusion is one of the simplest and most effective methods for using essential oils aromatically.

Simply putting two to eight drops of an essential oil that has been found especially beneficial for sleeping, (see next post), along with whatever water quantity is specified in the instructions for your particular diffuser, may be the perfect answer for your questionable sleep.

…and if you find using only one essential oil to become quite boring, you can also combine several essential oils in your diffuser. There are many such “sleep blend recipes” to be found on the internet or in books about essential oils. For example, try combining three drops of lavender, three drops of cedarwood, and two drops of frankincense.

 

So how does a diffuser work?  All diffusers work by breaking the essential oil(s) down into tiny molecules and dispersing them throughout the air, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of the oil as it circulates in the air for several hours while you sleep.

 

 

What should I look for when shopping for a diffuser?

Factors to consider when purchasing an essential oil diffuser include…

  • availability
  • ease of use
  • estimated operating time
  • material that the diffuser is made from (cheap plastic or polypropylene?)
  • noise level
  • price
  • product review
  • size of the actual diffuser
  • size of the room you want your diffuser to effectively cover
  • “special” features, such as a timer and ambient lighting
  • water capacity

 

 

Some of the most popular diffusers on the market today include…

 

1.  DoTerra AromaLite Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time…up to eight hours
  • Noise level…silent
  • Price…$102
  • Product review
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…up to 1000 feet
  • “Special” features…optional night light
  • Type of diffuser…cool mist humidifier
  • Water capacity…3/4C

 

2.  Noor Litemist Aromatherapy Diffuser

  • Availability...Walmart, Overstock.com
  • Estimated operating time...four hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…plastic
  • Noise level…silent
  • Price…$30
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…5.9″x5″
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…300 square feet
  • “Special” features…multicolor LED lights, automatic shut-off
  • Water capacity…1/4C

 

3.  Lagute Apple Shaped Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time…five hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…wood-grain BPA-free plastic
  • Noise…less than 36dB
  • Price…$25
  • Product review
  • Type diffuser...ultrasonic
  • Water capacity…100ml

 

4.  Plant Therapy AromaFuse Diffuser

  • Availability...Walmart
  • Estimated operating time…up to ten hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…BPA-free plastic
  • Noise level…very quiet
  • Price…$50
  • Product review
  • Size of the actual diffuser…8″x8″x5.2″
  • Size of area diffuser can effectively cover…at least 500 square feet
  • “Special” features...five different timer settings,  LED light
  • Type of diffuser…ultrasonic
  • Water capacity…300 ml ( a little over 1 ½ cups)

 

5.  PlantTherapy Advanced Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser

  • Noise level…output volume control
  • Price…$130
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…3.5″x5.5″x4.2″
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…up to 700 square feet
  • “Special” features…two quick-change atomizer attachments
  • Type of diffuser…nebulizer
  • Water capacity…15ml

 

6.  Whisper Premium Silent Misting Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time
  • Material diffuser is made from
  • Noise level…completely silent
  • Price…$20
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…8″x3.5″x3.5″
  • Size area diffuser can effectively cover…up to 1,000 square feet
  • “Special” features…automatic shut-off
  • Type diffuser…ultrasonic
  • Water capacity...100ml
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Essentials about Essential Oils

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

Essential oils are perhaps the oldest known element in following a “natural health” regimen…dating back to the ancient Egyptians, who seem to have used them as far back as 3500BC for religious, cosmetic, and health purposes.

Essential oils have been called the “life blood” of the plant and are typically extracted from within the many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes and seeds in which they are found through the process of steam distillation. These essential oils have been used for both physical and emotional benefits for thousands of years.

Each person will respond to the aroma, or these specific chemical elements, when breathing in the scent of an essential oil, in his or her own unique way…based on individual emotions, behaviors, memories, and experiences.

That being said, certain essential oils are always considered to have a certain effect regardless of these factors. Certain oils simply almost always seem more uplifting, more invigorating, more calming, more soothing….

In a future post, I will be sharing a list of the best essential oils to use when fighting insomnia.

 

But what good is that list of essential oils and a brand new vial of essential oil…if you’re like I was the first time that I purchased essential oil. It sat in my bathroom for years before I finally gave it away to my daughter because I had no clue what to do with it…(okay, did I just admit that?!)

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

Essential oils can have a huge positive influence on us both physically and psychologically.

Physically, using essential oils aromatically can help heal and maintain the respiratory system by improving the quality of the air we are breathing and protecting us from environmental threats…

Psychologically, using essential oils aromatically can help control moods, tension, and stress.

But first, how and why do essential oils work aromatically?

When you inhale essential oils, you are actually breathing in a fine mist or vapor of the actual oil. This vapor contains all the same properties of the actual liquid oil itself, just in a different format.

Once you have inhaled the vapor, the scent of the essential oil interacts with smell receptors located in the brain, known as “olfactory sensors.”

These “olfactory sensors” are part of the “olfactory system,” the part of the brain that regulates our sense of smell. The “olfactory system” part of the brain is located near and closely connected to the limbic system.

Once the scent is processed by the olfactory system, it travels through the olfactory nerve to the limbic system.

The “limbic system” is the part of the brain responsible for processing smell, emotions, behavior, memory, and thoughts…and that can help us feel calm, encouraged, and so forth. Here, the scent triggers responses in the brain based on memories and experiences.

Notice that the limbic system, the part of the brain most closely connected with the olfactory system, is not connected with processing sight, sound, or touch…explaining why smell, more than any of the other five senses, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.

And why essential oils have a particularly powerful effect when used aromatically.

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Healthy Sleep

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

This audiobook is a guide written for insomniacs, and other people who have trouble sleeping quite often, to show the life-changing health benefits that optimum sleep provides….and more importantly how to have this optimum sleep experience.

This book sparked my interest because as I get older, the more I’ve started to realize that how well and how much I sleep impacts your entire life…(yeah, Mom, I shoulda listened to you all those nights when I was little and you told me to turn the lights off and go to bed.)

The title of the audiobook, Healthy Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book explains how a healthy sleep cycle can improve your immune system, mood, sense of well-being—and even your weight.

This theme is carried out throughout the book as evident by the exercises and strategies that the book provides to help manage both stress and anxiety as well as common sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

The authors of the audiobook are alternative medicine “guru” Andrew Weil, MD…and sleep expert Rubin R. Naiman, PhD.

—–Andrew Weil, MD, is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. He is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, and director of Integrative Health & Healing at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Tucson. Dr. Weil s bestselling books include Spontaneous Happiness, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Spontaneous Healing, and his popular audio programs with Sounds True include The Healthy Heart Kit and Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing.

—–Rubin Naiman, PhD, is an internationally recognized leader in integrative sleep and dream medicine. He is director of Circadian Health Associates, an organization that provides information, goods and services in support of sleep health. Dr. Naiman is the sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona s Center for Integrative Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weil. He also serves as Director of the Sleep and Dream Advisory Board for Sleep Studio. For more than a decade, Dr. Naiman served as the sleep and dream specialist at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, where he founded the first formal sleep center at a spa. Subsequently, he served as director of sleep programs for Miraval Resort. Dr. Naiman is the author of a number of groundbreaking works on sleep, including Healing Night, Healthy Sleep (with Andrew Weil), The Yoga of Sleep, and To Sleep ToNight, as well as a number of professional book chapters and articles. He also blogs about sleep and dreams for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

This audiobook consists of two discs. The first disc is a discussion on why sleep is so important and why you may not be sleeping as you should. The second disc contains guided exercises, including three sessions to help you fall asleep.

Topics covered in the book include sleep stages, sleeping disorders, breathing techniques, good “sleep hygiene,” and safe supplements to overcome insomnia. The book uses a combination of creative visualization, self-compassion, and pranayama to explain insomnia and then lull you gently to sleep…

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has trouble sleeping…makes an excellent read about 2am when you should be sleeping instead of reading.