Tips For Great Sleep

Sleep can be elusive for some. At various seasons of life sleep may be more difficult to come by, and for some of us (myself included), difficulty falling and staying asleep can become a chronic issue. With the holiday season in full swing, staying healthy is of utmost importance.  The seasonal ickiness has officially descended, and when you combine that with all of our holiday celebrations and obligations, it’s all the more important to focus on rest.

Sleep is imperative to functioning to the best of our abilities during the day. Beyond affecting our daily grinds, lack of sleep can also have detrimental affects on our health. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the prevalence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. Here are a few ways in which we can increase the quality and quantity of sleep.

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Photo by Benjaminrobyn Jespersen on Unsplash

1. Shut down, literally.

Turning off or setting aside the electronics at least two hours before bedtime will impact your ability to fall asleep as well as the quality of your sleep. Blue wavelengths benefit us greatly during the day by increasing our attention, reaction times, and brightening our mood. However, these are not qualities we want when we’re trying to settle in for a great night’s sleep. Try slowly shutting down earlier and earlier in the evening and observe how your sleep is impacted.

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

2. Establish a routine.

Establishing a nighttime routine will signal to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down. This could include a routine as simple as reading a few pages in a book or perhaps enjoying a warm beverage like a decaffeinated tea or my favorite Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk.

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Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

3. Utilize Natural Resources.

If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, there are a few all natural resources to utilize. Some of these include CBD oil (my favorite can be found here), Melatonin, Lavender essential oil (can find this here), and listening to recorded meditations.

I use CBD oil almost every night to keep my anxiety from creeping up and keeping me alert when I want to rest. Ensure you do your homework and find a high quality CBD oil to take advantage of it’s many benefits.  I also love to rub some lavender essential oil on my pillow or temples, and you could also diffuse it, put some drops of it in a bath, or create a bedtime room spray.  Taking some deep breaths of this soothing scent tells my nervous system it’s time for bed.

I pull out the Melatonin when I just can’t sleep and nothing else has worked. There are different dosages of Melatonin so keep that in mind when selecting this supplement. I recommend starting at a low dose, or even taking half a pill and then working up from there as needed.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

4. Move your body.

Moving your body regularly, whether it’s vigorous exercise or a walk in nature will help utilize energy during the day so your body can completely let go when it’s time to hit the hay.

I find when my body has been stagnant during the day it’s more difficult for my body to relax, as it has energy to burn. The key is to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. Also keep in mind that body movement does not mean working up a sweat. Many times an extended stretching session on my living room floor is enough to give my body what it needs for the day.

 

Finding what works can be a fun experiment, and will also change depending upon life events, time of year, and more. By ensuring we are getting enough sleep, we are taking a major step in improving our overall health. Sweet dreams!

 

The light in me honors the light in you. 

Seven Years

I have so many drafts of this post written that I feel it will take a year for me to edit it into a format in which I am both satisfied and comfortable.

I started this site as a safe space to share the messy parts of life. And I wouldn’t be authentic in this mission if I disregarded this universal pull to share this very messy chapter of my life.

This year, October 15 marked seven years since the day of my wedding. This year I took back the power of this date and as such officially changed it’s significance in my life. As a result, this has also been the Universe’s unwavering signal that it is time. It’s time to move into the next chapter that this life has in store for me. And Universe, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. And I openly accept this invitation. In fact I can’t wait. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this invitation for years now, but I also recognize that it has not been until now that I have been ready. Friends, my body is buzzing just thinking about this next step. And I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you.

I know the Universe will guide me toward the next piece of myself in which I should reveal.  All I need to do is wait, listen, and follow it’s direction. For now, this is all that I am able to convey effectively.

Seven years ago I walked down the aisle of my church and had a vision for what my life would look like. Today I am unrecognizable from that woman, and on October 15th of this year I graduated from yoga teacher training.

I’ve been envisioning myself, in my lace wedding gown, in a room alone, before my father saw me, before taking those steps toward my future husband. I’ve been asking myself if I would change anything about those quiet moments, and what I would tell that young woman anxiously waiting to start her new life.

As cliche as it sounds, I could never tell that bride to do anything but take those steps, knowing that yes, you will be betrayed by the person at the end of that aisle. You will feel pain, loss, emptiness. You will find yourself alone, with no money, surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar city and state.


And slowly (very slowly) that city will become your new home. And one day, alone in your empty apartment, your new friend will come over with her boyfriend and they will give you an old television and microwave because these are luxuries and you can’t afford to purchase either of these items on your own. And then one weekend your parents will visit and you’ll be embarrassed because you don’t own any kitchen chairs or a couch but they will take you to Home Depot and your dad will buy you tools and he will fix your kitchen table. And your mom will cry the entire way back to Michigan but you won’t be privy to that information until months later.


And then, beautiful girl, then one day you’ll walk into your first yoga class. And all of the pain will come back- years and years of pain. But this time it’s different. This time instead of running from it, you lean into it. All of it. And an entirely new world will unfold before you. And you will never be the same.

If I could speak to that bride today I would tell her that she’s in for one hell of a chapter. That the world will fight to make her heart hard and that she will go into battle, but she’ll be fighting for softness and vulnerability. Fighting for hope and grace. And what she’ll find is that hope and grace have been seeking her the whole time, and for all of her days, they will never leave her.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

 

My Recovery Journey Continues

My concept of recovery is fluid. What I considered a successful day 9 years ago looks completely different than it does today.

Multiple times a week, I chose to walk the aisles of the grocery store in the middle of the night, avoiding other shoppers and preferring the company of other creatures of the early morning hours, feeling a comfort knowing that the stock boy with baggy jeans and Queens of the Stone Age blasting from his earbuds wouldn’t judge me as I carefully reviewed the labels of the scarce foods I trusted to put in my body.

In that time of my recovery I preferred to slip under the radar, to be invisible. That’s where my disease wanted me to stay because that’s where it held the most power over me. As long as I continued to isolate myself from the rest of the world, the eating disorder was in control.

Yoga showed me that I have a greater purpose in this world and allowed me to discover an identity beyond the eating disorder. It gave me self-confidence to re-connect with loved ones with whom I had become detached, and gave me permission to reveal to them the various vulnerabilities that arise throughout the recovery process.

By inviting me to connect my true self with my physical body, yoga was there to catch me before I could fall deeper into isolation, acting as a net below the emotional tightrope I had found myself balancing upon. What began as another exercise regimen became a recovery tool that transformed from treating my current circumstance, to healing years of emotional scars.

By allowing me to view my body as a conduit of strength, yoga taught me that I am worthy.

By simply stepping on my mat and honoring my mind and body where I am in that moment, I am serving myself.

Yoga taught me to love my body not for how my hips look in my yoga pants, but for its strength and general amazing-ness.

Most importantly, after years of fighting for control of my life, yoga taught me that I was never in control and I never will be. I found peace within myself once I released control.

My journey with an eating disorder is embedded into my life, like an olfactory memory that can be lifted up into my senses at a moment’s notice, only to float away with the breeze just as quickly.

Today a successful day is one that includes honoring my mind, body, and soul. It includes catching up with an authentic friend, finishing a project I’ve worked on tirelessly, journaling, exercising because I love the rush of endorphins that I feel afterward, and nourishing my body with foods that it craves.

I now see my recovery as an instrument in my arsenal of empathetic tools; it has provided me with the ability to embrace, cry, and laugh with strangers who instantly become yet another recovery warrior from whom I gain strength, hoping that I become the same to them as well.

Living an isolated life prevents one from giving themselves to another, and what a tragedy that is! The more we give, the more love our hearts are able to receive. By giving of myself and my story, I find so much strength within me, and in return, receive abundant love from those around me. My recovery continues, and it is my hope that it never ends.

This post was originally published as part of  YBIC’s monthly column that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. You can find it on the YBIC website here.