Sleep Hygiene

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Christy R. Underwood

Christy R. Underwood

Just a regular chick who figured out how to heal from many chronic illnesses who wants to inspire you to do the same.

Sleep Hygiene

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*Updated 1/31/2020

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Why don’t we just go with the proper definition first and proceed from there?

Sleep hygiene:

habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.

There are so many factors that help us achieve (or not) a healthy sleep routine. I know that for me, I have suffered with being a night owl in my younger years, and now I am at the mercy of surgical menopause. So, sleep is a subject I am VERY tuned in to.

Mama Knew What She Was Talking About

One of my favorite things to discover in my adult life is that we have to parent ourselves. This was an AHA moment. I had these feelings that since I was grown, I could do whatever I wanted.

This sort of “freedom” I allowed myself landed me sick and dying. So, this is when I KNEW  that it was time to set up some guidelines for myself.

How I long for my childhood years, though. My Mama is still alive and is very supportive and mothering. 

However, she no longer lives at the other end of the hallway, makes my meals everyday, or tells me “it’s time for bed”.

As a child, I hated those words. I wanted to stay awake with the grownups, because I have always been an old soul. While I had dolls and toys, they were pristinely cared for, and often left in the boxes. 

But today, I long to hear her lovingly come into my room and let me know it’s time to go to sleep. We just didn’t know how easy we had it, right?

What Causes Sleep Issues?

It may be easier to recite what doesn’t disturb our slumber. LOL

But this article is supposed to provide information and hope…so here we go.

  • Foods we eat can disrupt many of our body functions thus causing sleep disturbance (i.e heartburn, constipation, sugar spikes…)
  • While alcohol can sometimes be a numbing agent, it also has a stimulant effect in some instances
  • Medications (RX & OTC) 
  • Caffeine (coffee, caffeinated teas, energy drinks)
  • Sugar (dirty sugar -not made by fruits/veggies in their whole forms)
  • Supplements like: B12, COQ10, some adaptogens, moringa, ginseng, etc…
  • Stimulation from electronic devices & social media
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Taking naps during the day
  • EMFs (electromagnetic fields) like WiFi being in the bedroom
  • Room temp is too hot (best to keep it at 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Family (children, furries, or seniors needing assistance)
  • Outside noises from traffic, neighbors…
  • Snoring partner
  • Frequent urination
  • Having no sleep routine established or not following it consistently
  • Some diagnoses/illnesses make sleep harder to come by

I’m sure there are more reasons. 

How Can Real Sleep Be Achieved?

Just as there are many things that harsh our Z’s, there are many ways to increase the likelihood of gaining our sweet slumber.

  • Zero-in on our diet. Eat no later than 7-8 pm every night. Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Just say no to dirty refined sugar. Consume raw cacao during the daytime, to curb chocolate cravings AND to not suffer the caffeine (stimulant) that chocolate contains.
  • Drink more water! Herbal teas and water are much healthier bevvies, and contain no stimulants.
  • Empty your bladder right before bed. And if frequent urination is an issue, then drink the bulk of your water by 7-8 pm & then drastically reduce or omit water at this time. This will help train the bladder and reduce sleep disturbances.
  • Address hormonal imbalaces
  • Exercise 
  • Reading before bed
  • Supplements like: magnesiumvalarianmelatonin, & passionflower
  • CBD oil (just remember that CBD has to accumulate in the body to see its full effects)
  • Herbal teas
  • Essential Oils

The Most Important Thing We Can Do for Better Sleep

When we look at the 2 lists above (what causes sleep issues & what helps it), it all seems like a bit much to even think on.

Please know that I did not get this information from a doctor or sleep specialist. I devised this system for myself while I’m wrangling menopause.

I’ve found that it works wonderfully for me. I’ve gone from 0-30 minutes of sleep most nights to 7-8 hours of sleep. I think that is a DRASTIC improvement.

  1. Switched to an anti-inflammatory diet
  2. I wake up at 7am every day. I’m in bed by 9pm every night.
  3. Every morning, I wake up and open all the blinds in the house so that my circadian rhythm is alerted that it is daytime.
  4. There are a couple of supplements that I take like magnesium  for the nervous system and several supplements to help balance my hormones
  5. Our room is cold and dark every night (sometimes it gets too cold~ so just be mindful and stay at 68-70 degrees)
  6. Some nights (let’s be honest here) I will turn my devices off and find that I sleep much better without the stress or stimulation right before sleeping. I have so much I want to do with my business that sometimes it’s difficult to unplug.
  7. For white noise, we have a big fan that sounds like one of those swamp boat fans hahaha. But it’s soothing to us and the furbabies, plus circulates air.
  8. During the day, I drink herbal teas to help detox my liver, ramp up my immune system, & calm the nervous system. In the evening, I drink calming & stress reducing herbal teas to help promote sleep.
  9. I make sure that I urinate before bed so that my bladder is happy.
  10. I try to do some sort of stretching or exercise every day. I am not perfect, but I’m not quitting on myself.
  11. I use (diffuse & apply topically) essential oils to help with Dude’s snoring, and also promote a restful and relaxing atmosphere & body.

If I find that I am having difficulty getting to sleep after all of this, I go downstairs and make myself golden milk (recipe below). For some miraculous reason, this usually does the trick.

When this doesn’t work, I will try the 4-7-8 breathing technique . This helps to refocus my thoughts on the breathing technique rather than whatever is stimulating my brain.

The last thing I will do, when I can’t turn off my mind, is to journal. Whatever I am thinking is obviously stressing me enough to stay awake. So, by putting those thoughts on paper, I can easily pick up where I left off and not forget anything.

Often times, a creative mind will keep us awake. Usually when we go to sleep, we tend to forget those musings the next day. You know what I am talking about. The journal helps ease that stress.

Is My Sleep Routine Perfect?

Heck no! I will do my routine, make good food choices, get some movement in, etc… and then I will get an amazing night’s sleep.

To be honest, I am quite strict with myself just because I don’t want to be bedridden again.

This is where I’ve learned to parent myself. Not because I am a stick in the mud or no fun, but because I respect my body and the life that I am living.

Hormones

Today, I ordered hormone tests for myself. They should arrive in a day or 2.

Update: I tested my hormones and I am estrogen dominant. That means that my estrogen levels are higher than my progesterone levels. However, both my progesterone and estrogen are dangerously low. So, I have been treating those hormones with natural remedies. Saliva tests are the most accurate tests for hormone testing.

When I know exactly where my hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol levels lie, I will be making adjustments to my supplements and foods routine.

Knowing your hormone levels is a very beneficial in everyone’s overall health and wellness. It can help us figure out what foods we need to eat more or less of, what supplements we need (if any), and will help us achieve the sleep that we’ve been dreaming of.

In Closing

As I zero in on 6-7 nights a week of true restful, restorative sleep, I will be keeping you updated.

Update: I get 7-8 hours 7 days a week now, with exception to our furbaby Daphne Rose passing away. Losing her has been an adjustment for our entire home.

The truth is that everyone’s circumstances are different. You may work a graveyard shift, or have varying work times. However, you can create a system that works with your schedule.

It will be implementing most of  the same tools I mentioned above, just with your modifications.

So, not everything that I do may work for you, and if you’re still not getting to sleep…my stock answer and the BEST advice anyone can ever give you is to go see a functional medicine doctor to tailor a plan that is just for you.

After all, I forgot to go to medical school. HAHA I’m just a regular person who educated myself in treating my body and health with natural remedies. 

That means that ANYONE can do it too! And I’m sharing what I did to get healthy with you.

Now, get your butt to bed! Good night, Y’all!

Grab My "Go To Sleep"
Rollerball Blend

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Lavender/Chamomile Tea

This tea is amazing at calming a myriad of issues down…but I like it for those nights that I may have troubles getting to sleep.

Nighty Night Extra w/ Valerian Tea

Need all the help you can get? This minty night-time tea has passionflower, lemon balm, & Valerian root.

 

Women’s Hormone Test

This is the brand of hormone testing I used. I checked my DHEA, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, & progesterone levels. This company gives easy-to-read results & uses saliva testing. Please make sure that you get the test that is right for your age, sex, & that provides you the info you need specifically.

Earth Chimp Vegan Protein Powder

I’ve spent HUNDREDS of dollars trying to find the best protein powder. No matter how much money some of the protein powders cost (one was $99 a bag!), they all tasted like bonkey. This protein powder is Non-GMO, gum-free, refined sugar free, has probiotics & superfoods…& TASTES AWESOME!

Vitamin C

I love NOW brand for most supplements. They have a large selection of vegan supplements.

Magnesium Glycinate

Tablets are not my favorite way to consume supplements. So, this brand is made in capsule form & has great absorption rate. These supplements are Non-GMO & free from all those bad fillers like gluten.

Vegan Golden Milk Latte TVC

Vegan Golden Milk Latte

A vegan golden milk latte is a wonderful bedtime beverage that is great in helping to relax the body & soothe inflammation.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Christy R. Underwood

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a blender or with a whisk, incorporate all ingredients & either blend or whisk until thoroughly mixed.
  • Add the golden milk mixture to a saucepan. On medium heat, warm the milk until your desired temperature (I like mine to be drinkable but warm haha-very technical)
     
Golden Milk Shake

Golden Milk Shake

My recipe for a golden milk shake is a spin on the anti-inflammatory warm drink with the same name. This shake can also be made into a smoothie!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Mason Jar Prep: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: Christy

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 1.5-2.5 cups plant milk (I use So Delicious coconut milk) or homemade oat milk unsweetened & unflavored
  • 1 frozen organic banana optional for smoothie

Instructions

  • To your blender of choice, add all the ingredients listed. EXCEPT pour the milk gradually, adding the JUST right amount to your liking. Add one frozen banana for a smoothie! Pour into 2 glasses. Enjoy!

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