18 Sleep Hacks For Better Health And Wellbeing

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More and more research shows that sleep can help you feel better, get better, and stay better. Click here to read all about sleep: what it is, how it helps your body and mind, and most importantly, how you can reap multitudes of benefits from it.

If you’re not getting your recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours) every night, there are a few things you can try. Start by choosing a couple of tips from the list below that resonate most with you. If you can, try number one first because it's the most important.

1 - What’s your sleep schedule?

Having a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important things you can do. Our society promotes round-the-clock activity. This can affect anyone, not just shift workers and students. Time dedicated to sleep is often consciously reduced due to work demands and social activities.(1,3,10,11)

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, as much as possible.(12)

2 - Create a calming bedtime routine and practice it regularly.

Whether that includes bedtime yoga, a relaxing bath, warm herbal tea, and/or a soothing book, do what works to help you wind down for the night.(3,10,12)

3 - Bright light in the day; block the blue at night.

Expose your eyes to bright light during the day, especially in the morning. This also means avoiding bright lights at night wherever possible because it can extend the time it takes you to fall asleep. This includes watching screens before bed. Why? Because your eyes respond to cues from light. When the light is dimmer and has more red wavelengths (think of a sunset), your brain makes the “sleep hormone” melatonin.(3,12,13)

4 - Is your bedroom comfortable?

Your bedroom should be cool and dark so you aren’t woken by being too hot or cold or when the sun gets too bright.(3,12) Your mattress should be comfortable, too. If sounds bother you, consider blocking them out with a fan or white noise machine.(11)

5 - Regular exercise.

Exercising 20-30 minutes each day can help, particularly aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, or swimming.(11) Try to finish your exercise a few hours before you plan to go to bed so you have time to relax.(1,3)

6 - Can you handle caffeine at night? Are you sure?

Caffeine works to wake you up by blocking the sleep-promoting effects of the compound adenosine. This reduces your ability to fall asleep. Caffeine can also increase the need to go to the bathroom, which can wake you up once you are asleep. The effects of caffeine on your body and brain can last several hours.(4)

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that the more caffeine you have before bed, the more it disrupts your sleep. They recommend not having caffeine within 6 hours of going to sleep. So, if you go to sleep at 10 p.m., eliminate energy drinks, coffee, caffeinated pop/soda, tea, etc. by 4 p.m. at the latest. Ideally, you would cut those out even earlier in the day.(3,6,12,13)

FUN FACT: If you have caffeine within 3-6 hours of going to sleep you may not even know that your sleep is being disrupted—even though it might be.(5)

7 - Avoid tobacco.

Nicotine stimulates your brain and your heart, making it harder to fall asleep.(4) Avoid tobacco products, including regular cigarettes and nicotine-containing e-cigs.(3,12) If you have a very difficult time quitting, avoid it for at least two hours before you want to go to sleep.(4)

8 - Nix the nightcaps.

You should avoid alcohol before bed because it negatively impacts sleep quality by reducing REM sleep.(4) Having alcohol before bed may seem okay because it can make you feel tired, but you don’t get quality sleep.(3,4,12)

9 - Stomach issues?

Having a large meal before bed can disrupt sleep. This is especially true if you experience acid reflux.(12) Try eating throughout the day so you’re not too hungry when it’s time to sleep.

10 - Nighttime bathroom breaks?

Drinking a lot of liquids before bed can wake you up to go to the bathroom, so try to hydrate throughout the day so you’re not thirsty before bed.(12)

11 - Are you a clock watcher?

Watching your clock when you can’t sleep prevents you from falling asleep. This is because it increases your mental activity (worry), rather than decreases it. This can make falling back asleep more difficult. If you’re lying in bed awake for 20 minutes, try getting up and reading (with low or red/yellow-tinted light) or listening to soft music until you feel tired.(3,11,12)

12 - Naps: yes or no?

Naps are necessary for small children, but if you have trouble falling asleep, try avoiding them. There is one exception, though. A study in the British Medical Journal suggests that if you’re a college athlete, napping may improve your performance.(12)

13 - Stop multi-purposing your bed.

Your bed should be used for two things only: sleep and sex. If you’re lying in bed awake, try getting out for a short time and trying again. There is strong evidence that this can help prevent insomnia and, over time, can improve the quality of your sleep.(12)

14 - Calm your mind.

Along with the growing public interest in mindfulness techniques and meditation, there is a growing body of research as well. A recent review of several studies showed that mindfulness and meditation significantly improved sleep quality.(7) You can also try breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation.(8)

15 - Be social.

Feelings of loneliness can affect your sleep. If you feel isolated and have little social support, you are more likely to suffer from the effects of stress and have more difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep. If your partner feels lonely and has poor quality sleep, you’re more likely to be affected, too. Loneliness is associated with many sleep disorders, including insomnia, nightmares, and anxiety.(1) Try things to help you feel more connected like thanking people who help you in day-to-day life, reaching out to someone by email or social media, or signing up to volunteer in your community.

16 - Try to sleep along with your natural chronotype.

If you’re an “early bird,” go to bed and wake up early. If you are a “night owl,” then try to create a schedule where you can wake up later in the mornings.

17 - Sleep supplements?

Melatonin supplements might help you feel sleepy and there is some evidence that it helps with jet lag. But, before you try these, note that they’re not recommended for everyone and have many known interactions. Be sure to read the warnings and cautions on the label and check with your healthcare professional to be sure they’re ok for you.(9)

FUN FACT: Some melatonin supplements are not meant to be swallowed but instead dissolved under the tongue (sublingual). Be sure to check your product labels to use it as recommended.

18 - Taking medications?

Some medications can disturb sleep (e.g., beta-blockers, corticosteroids, analgesics, antidepressants).(2) If you’re taking medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist to see if yours is one of them and if there may be alternatives to consider.

If these tips don’t help or you think you may have a sleep disorder, please see your healthcare professional.

Here's to your restful sleep,

Signature Shannon transp

 

2 WAYS TO GET MORE VITALITY IN YOUR LIFE FOR FREE:

  1. Join one of my private Facebook communities:

    • Click here to join "High Vitality Life Revolution" - for women who are taking control of their health and happiness, with free daily support, tips, resources, inspiration, mini-challenges, and more, OR...

    • Click here to join "Wellness Collective for HSPs" - for Highly Sensitive People and Empaths who want to thrive, with daily support from me and other HSPs, plus tips, resources, inspiration, and mini-wellness challenges for a holistic approach to inner peace and a lifestyle that supports your unique needs for the long term.

  1. Click here to get a free "Vitality Session" with me - where we will put our heads together and figure out how you can make some real strides with your own personalized plan for a more peaceful, happy, healthy life. 

 

Free Vitality Session button

 

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References

1. Magnavita, N., & Garbarino, S. (2017). Sleep, Health and Wellness at Work: A Scoping Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(11), 1347. doi:10.3390/ijerph14111347  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29113118  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707986/

2. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 99(3), 1325-1380. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00010.2018  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30920354  LINK: https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00010.2018?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org

3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019, August 13). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep

4. Harvard Health. (n.d.). 3 simple ways to get more restful sleep. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/3-ways-to-get-more-restful-sleep

5. Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195–1200. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3170  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3805807/

6. Pickering, C., & Grgic, J. (2019). Caffeine and Exercise: What Next? Sports Med, 49, 1007. LINK: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01101-0  LINK: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40279-019-01101-0

7. Rusch, H. L., Rosario, M., Levison, L. M., Olivera, A., Livingston, W. S., Wu, T., & Gill, J. M. (2019). The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1445(1), 5-16. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13996  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30575050

8. Harvard Health. (n.d.).  4 ways to get better sleep. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/4-ways-to-get-better-sleep

9. Health Canada. (2019, September 26). Melatonin Natural Health Product Monograph. Retrieved from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=melatonin.sublinguale&lang=eng

10. Harvard Health. (2015, August). Restructure your day to get a better night's sleep. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/restructure-your-day-to-get-a-better-nights-sleep

11. Harvard Health. (2016, September). Awake at 3 a.m.? Strategies to help you to get back to sleep. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/awake-at-3-am-strategies-to-help-you-to-get-back-to-sleep

12. Kroshus E, Wagner J, Wyrick D, et al. (2019). Wake up call for collegiate athlete sleep: narrative review and consensus recommendations from the NCAA Interassociation Task Force on Sleep and Wellness. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53, 731-736. LINK: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/12/731

13. John’s Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). The Science of Sleep: Understanding What Happens When You Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-science-of-sleep-understanding-what-happens-when-you-sleep

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Family Favourite Granola

granola

Make this big batch of healthy and delicious granola to keep your family going for a week or two. 

 

Family Favourite Granola

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 8-10

DRY INGREDIENTS:

● 3 cups (270 g) of rolled oats (not quick oats!)
● 1 cup (125 g) chopped pecans
● 1 cup (125 g) cashews or almonds (omit for FODMAP)
● 3/4 cup (75 g) shredded coconut
● 1/3 cup (80 ml) brown sugar
● 4 tsp flax seeds
● 4 tsp millet
● 1 Tbsp sea salt
● 2 tsp cinnamon
● 1/2 tsp nutmeg

WET INGREDIENTS:

● 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup
● 1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil (melted)

ADD AFTER COOKED:

● 1 cup (150 g) dried cranberries
● 2 Tbsp hemp hearts

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat oven to 250ºF (120ºC).

Mix the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, flax, millet, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

Melt the coconut oil and measure out the right amount. Add in the maple syrup. Pour this mixture to the dry ingredients (excluding cranberries and hemp hearts) and mix well.

Spread evenly on two sheet pans. Place the sheet pans in the heated oven. Cook for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes so everything browns evenly.

Remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Add the cranberries and hemp hearts to the hot granola and mix well.

Let it cool, then place in an airtight container to keep fresh for several weeks (if it lasts that long!).

Serve 1/3 cup on top of yogurt or a smoothie bowl and enjoy!

 

 

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Sleep - The Ultimate Strategy for Better Health and Wellness

sleep koda

Sleep is way more important than you think!

 What if there was one single thing you can do that will help you:

  • Be more resilient to stress
  • Lift your moods and mental health
  • Lose weight
  • Boost concentration and memory
  • Improve performance and productivity
  • Heal more quickly

Would you prioritize it?

What is this one single thing that deeply impacts your brain and body, both in the short- and long-term?

It’s simple: sleep.

Would you be shocked to know some researchers say that “good sleep guarantees wellbeing and mental health”?(1)

Why is sleep so very important? What is sleep and how do we do it? How much is “enough quality sleep”? How does it do these amazing things for health and wellness? And, most importantly, how can you get better sleep?

For answers to all these questions read on.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is intimately linked to your health and wellness. Getting enough quality sleep boosts your health in so many ways, which we’ll talk about. And, it’s a two-way street. The quality and amount of sleep you get is affected by your health, as you might have noticed how hard it can be to get a good night’s rest when you’re in pain or struggling with a cold.

FUN FACT: There’s a growing body of evidence that sleep is integral to health. In fact, science shows that getting enough quality sleep may prevent and improve several diseases.

Not getting enough quality sleep (more on this below) can be a huge factor when it comes to deteriorating physical and mental health, economic issues, and even death.(1) It increases your risk of developing and worsening several serious conditions, including:

  • Moods and mental health issues
  • Metabolic issues like diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune conditions

Yes, sleep truly is a panacea for everything.

In fact, sleep researchers encourage clinicians to educate patients about sleep hygiene and good sleep habits because of its proven benefits for diseases.(2) Next week I’ll share my 18 tips to help you with this!

Let’s talk about some of these health effects.

But first…

What is sleep and how do we do it?

From the outside, sleep looks like a pretty passive activity. But, even though you’re not conscious and are not fully aware of many things going on around you (e.g., noises), both your brain and body are active while you sleep.(2)

Sleep is regulated by two processes that create your personal biorhythm. The first one—your sleep-wake process—regulates how you sleep, and the second—your circadian process (or rhythm)—regulates when you sleep.

There are four stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1 - The stage between wakefulness and sleep
  • Stage 2 - Light sleep before you enter deep sleep. This makes up about 50% of the total sleep time.
  • Stage 3 - Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS). It helps you feel refreshed in the morning and makes up about 20% of total sleep time.
  • Stage 4 - Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when your brain activity is almost as high as when you’re awake—most dreams occur here. REM sleep makes up about 20% of total sleep time.(2,3)

Each cycle through these four stages takes about 90 minutes. That means, during an average night of eight hours of sleep, you would go through this cycle about five times. As the night goes on, the SWS stage shortens while the REM stage lengthens.(2) This means that the longer you’re asleep the more of your sleep is in the REM stage—and REM sleep is great for your body and brain. Studies show that when learning a new physical task, people’s performance can improve overnight—but only as long as they get enough REM sleep.(4)

FUN FACT: The longer you go without sleep, the more your body tries to get you to sleep longer and more deeply.(2,3)

What is “enough quality sleep”?

So far we’ve seen some of the benefits of getting enough quality sleep. But, how much sleep is “enough”?

The official recommendations for adults are to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.(5) And younger people need even more. Here’s what everyone should aim for every 24 hours:

  • Newborns (0-3 months) need 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-12 months) need 12-16 hours, including naps
  • Toddlers (1-2 years old) need 11-14 hours, including naps
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years old) need 10-13 hours, including naps
  • School-aged children (6-12 years old) need 9-12 hours
  • Teens (13-18 years old) need 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18+) need 7-9 hours

Note that too much sleep is linked to other health problems, too! Believe it or not, it can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even death.(1,6) It can also worsen mental health issues, including mood disorders.(7)

What exactly is quality sleep? It’s when you:

  • Fall asleep fairly quickly
  • Sleep for a long enough duration
  • Don’t wake up during sleep
  • If you wake up, then falling back asleep quickly

Sleep disorders affect your quality of life and wellbeing

Wellbeing is when you feel happy, healthy, and productive. When you enjoy a high quality of life, feel optimistic, and are emotionally stable, you’re “well.” It may not surprise you that sleep disturbances may affect and be affected by your level of wellbeing.(1)

FUN FACT: How long you sleep is very important. What’s even more important for your health and wellness? It’s having a regular sleep schedule.(1)

We all have trouble sleeping sometimes. If you’re highly sensitive like me, it can be a real challenge to fall asleep because we tend to be deep thinkers, ruminating on things for hours. It’s even possible to have a sleep disorder and not even know it! The three most common sleep disorders are obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. Experiencing these disorders can have a significant effect on your quality of life such as your:(1)

  • Vitality, energy, and motivation
  • Emotional regulation and relationships
  • Ability to think clearly, learn, remember things, and make decisions (cognitive functioning)
  • Physical functioning
  • Work performance

There are effective treatments for sleep disorders that can lead to significant improvements.(1) See your healthcare professional if you have any health concerns, including sleep disorders.

Sleep, pain, and mental health

When you feel stressed and irritable, do you ever relate that back to not getting enough quality sleep the previous night (or nights)? There’s a relationship between lack of sleep and feeling more sensitive to everyday stressors – hello, my highly sensitive friends, listen up! Plus, lack of sleep increases inflammation and sensitivity to certain types of physical pain. It also decreases how you feel about the quality of your life. These can all lead to emotional distress, mood disorders, memory deficits, and the ability to think clearly, learn, and make decisions (cognitive function).(1)

FUN FACT: According to one study, sleep problems, along with stress and life dissatisfaction, can predict back pain in 40-year-olds.(1)

Even if you don’t have physical pain, if you think sleep affects your moods, you’re right. Studies show that there are more mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, depression) in people who don’t get enough quality sleep (remember, adults need 7-9 hours per night). As lack of sleep worsens, so do mental health symptoms.(7) Increased feelings of worry and anxiety are some of the biggest consequences of sleep deprivation.(8) If you’re Highly Sensitive, you probably experience this regularly because we think about things more deeply and often for longer than the neurotypical person. And if what we’re processing is about ourselves, then our high conscientiousness can manifest as self-judgement and “coulda-shoulda-woulda” thinking too.

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea are linked to mood disorders, lower levels of wellbeing, and lower concentration and memory.(1)

On the other hand, sleeping excessively long (hypersomnolence) is common in people with mental health issues, particularly mood disorders.(1,7)

This is why getting enough quality sleep is such an important factor for mental health.

Sleep, brain (cognitive) function, and aging

Want to think clearly, concentrate, learn, make decisions, and remember things?(1,3) Sleep affects these brain functions no matter how old you are.(3) Plus, recent research shows that sleep helps to flush out compounds in your brain that build up while you’re awake.(3,9) This works because of your brain’s “glymphatic” system. This system drains waste products from the brain (including the beta-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease) and is more active during sleep.(9)

Sleep also plays a crucial role in brain aging. Many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have sleep symptoms in common. In fact, struggling with an irregular sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) may be an early symptom of these diseases, and may be a key factor in making them worse. And, vice versa: Cognitive impairment may be a sign of an undiagnosed sleep disorder.(1)

It’s important to get enough sleep, no matter your age. While it may be harder to get enough sleep as you get older, all adults—even older adults—need 7-9 hours each night. According to Harvard Health, “We don't outgrow our need for sleep; it's just harder to come by.”(4)

Sleep issues are more common in older adults for many reasons. These include having other health conditions, taking several medications, and even social factors like family, housing, and finances.(1) Having an inconsistent daily schedule can also factor in.(10) These can all have a negative effect on sleep.

Sleep, immunity, and inflammation

Sleep helps you stave off infection and too much inflammation. And, if you’re well-rested and get an infection, your immune system can fight it better.

Sleep, immunity, and inflammation are delicately intertwined. Getting enough quality sleep promotes a healthy immune system and a balanced level of inflammation. It can help you overcome infections when you get them.(2)

Lack of quality sleep can trigger long-term low-grade inflammation—the same kind of inflammation linked with diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegeneration.(2,6)

Sleep, stress, weight, heart disease, and diabetes

Not getting enough quality sleep increases your risk for(6):

  • Weight gain, excess weight, and obesity
  • High blood sugar
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Type II diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Death

Layer stress on top of this and it makes things worse. Stress can lead to serious sleep disorders like insomnia. Insomnia can then make you even more sensitive to stress.(1)

Also, there is a link between lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of physical exercise, and alcohol use and people who sleep less.(6)

FUN FACT: Sleep and stress are very intertwined. How much cortisol (a stress hormone) you release is related to the quality of your sleep. Better sleep equals lower stress.(1)

Interrupted sleep affects your blood sugar by reducing insulin sensitivity and impairing glucose tolerance. People who sleep just 4 hours per night tend to crave sweet and/or salty foods more than those who sleep 7-9 hours per night.

Sleep restriction is not surprisingly linked with increased caloric intake and weight gain. Not getting enough sleep also reduces the amount and intensity of people’s physical activity.(6)

Getting adequate sleep has the opposite effect. It improves insulin sensitivity, reduces appetite, food cravings, and the amount of sugar consumed.(6) These all help to reduce your risks for heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.

Sleeping patterns: hypnotype, chronotype, and shift work

Your personal sleeping pattern is made up of your hypnotype and chronotype. Hypnotype describes whether you are a “long-sleeper” or “short-sleeper.” As we’ve seen, too little or too much sleep can have negative health impacts.(1)

Chronotype is whether you’re a “morning person” or an “evening person.” When you go against your chronotype, you get worse sleep. It’s not too surprising that, when “early birds” take on night shifts or when “night owls” get early shifts, they get worse sleep.(1)

Here’s where things get even more interesting.

Even if you get the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours for adults), if your job makes you go against your morning/evening preference, that can have negative health effects.(1) About one in five people in industrialized countries work shifts. It’s not surprising that there is a link between shift work, insufficient sleep, chronic disease, and accidents.

A recent study of over 270,000 workers found that shift work (day and/or night) is associated with sleep disorders, reduced wellbeing, obesity, and depression. “Shift work disorder” is when you have excessive sleepiness, insomnia, or both as a result of shift work.(1)

Working shifts affects the quality of your sleep, too. And the effect can continue long after you no longer work shifts. This is especially true if you previously worked shifts for many years.(1)

That’s right – going against your chronotype can give you both worse sleep and worse health! We’re talking about health effects like increased risk for tobacco use, sedentary behaviour, inappropriate diets, and even musculoskeletal disorders.(1)

Conclusion

Now you know why getting enough quality sleep can help improve your wellbeing and many, many health conditions. The health benefits are enormous. Sleep can lower your risks for heart disease, stroke, weight gain, diabetes, and a strong immune system. Your mind also benefits with lower risks for mood disorders, and dementia.

And remember, if you have a sleep disorder or any health conditions, speak with your healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment strategy.

Here's to your restful sleep,

Signature Shannon transp

 

2 WAYS TO GET MORE VITALITY IN YOUR LIFE FOR FREE:

  1. Join one of my private Facebook communities:

    • Click here to join "High Vitality Life Revolution" - for women who are taking control of their health and happiness, with free daily support, tips, resources, inspiration, mini-challenges, and more, OR...

    • Click here to join "Wellness Collective for HSPs" - for Highly Sensitive People and Empaths who want to thrive, with daily support from me and other HSPs, plus tips, resources, inspiration, and mini-wellness challenges for a holistic approach to inner peace and a lifestyle that supports your unique needs for the long term.

  1. Click here to get a free "Vitality Session" with me - where we will put our heads together and figure out how you can make some real strides with your own personalized plan for a more peaceful, happy, healthy life. 

 

Free Vitality Session button

 

Thanks for Sharing!

Pin It

 

 

References

1. Magnavita, N., & Garbarino, S. (2017). Sleep, Health and Wellness at Work: A Scoping Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(11), 1347. doi:10.3390/ijerph14111347. LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29113118  LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707986/

2. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 99(3), 1325-1380. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00010.2018. LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30920354  LINK: https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00010.2018?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org

3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019, August 13). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep

4. Harvard Health. (2018, May 9). Repaying your sleep debt. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/repaying-your-sleep-debt

5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 2). Sleep and sleep disorders. How Much Sleep Do I Need? https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

6. Henst, R. H. P., Pienaar, P. R, Roden, L. C., & Rae, D. E. (2019). The effects of sleep extension on cardiometabolic risk factors: A systematic review. Journal of sleep research. LINK: https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12865  LINK: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jsr.12865

7. Plante D. T. (2017). Sleep propensity in psychiatric hypersomnolence: A systematic review and meta-analysis of multiple sleep latency test findings. Sleep medicine reviews, 31, 48–57. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.004. LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4945489/

8. Pires, G. N., Bezerra, A. G., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. L. (2016). Effects of acute sleep deprivation on state anxiety levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med, 24, 109-118. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2016.07.019. LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27810176

9. NIH Research Matters. (2013, October 28). How Sleep Clears the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-sleep-clears-brain

10. Harvard Health. (2015, August). Restructure your day to get a better night's sleep. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/restructure-your-day-to-get-a-better-nights-sleep

 

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Marinated Tofu Sushi Bowl

tofu sushi bowl

If you've been following me at all, you know by now that when it comes to cooking, most of the time I'm all about fast and easy. And healthy of course!

This sushi bowl ticks all the boxes.

You may be wondering about calling it a "sushi" bowl when it doesn't have raw fish in it. Well, the word “sushi” does not actually mean “raw fish”, as many people assume. In fact, “sushi” refers to seasoned rice that is topped with something—usually fish (raw or cooked), egg or vegetables. Our sushi bowl is seasoned with a delicious garlic-ginger-soy sauce and a creamy drizzle of spicy-sweet mayo.

My whole family loves this so much we eat it almost weekly. I hope yours enjoys it too!

Marinated Tofu Sushi Bowl

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • dash of cayenne pepper or pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  •  2 cups white rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  •  ripe avocados
  • 6-inch long piece of cucumber
  • 1 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
  • 2/3 c mayo
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • pickled ginger
  • Nori (seaweed), cut or torn into small pieces
  • sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS:

Tofu:

  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and press between paper towel or a clean dish towel to soak up as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the soy sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper.
  3. Add the tofu and mix to coat all pieces evenly in the sauce. This much can be done ahead of time.
  4. When you're read to cook the tofu, add the toasted sesame oil to the tofu bowl and mix to coat evenly.
  5. Transfer tofu to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes, tossing once halfway, to get it slightly crispy on all sides.

Rice:

  1. Wash 2 cups of white rice and place it in a pot with tight fitting lid.
  2. Add 3 cups of water, 1 tsp rice vinegar, and 1/2 tsp salt to pot and set the stove to high.
  3. Bring the rice to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Toppings:

  1. Slice cucumber.
  2. Cut avocado in half, remove pit and slice.
  3. Shred carrots.
  4. cut or tear nori into small pieces

Spicy-Sweet Mayo:

  1. Add mayo, sriracha, and honey to a bowl and mix.
  2. Add approximately 1 Tbsp of water, a little at a time, until the consistency is just thin enough to pour/drizzle

Assembly:

  1. Divide the rice between each of the 4 individual bowls
  2. Top with a section for each - carrots, cucumbers, avocado, tofu.
  3. Drizzle spicy-sweet mayo over everything.
  4. Top with pickled ginger, nori and sesame seeds.
  5. Serve immediately.

NOTES:

  • You can add any vegetables you like - try edamame, or bell peppers!
  • This is also wonderful with a filet salmon instead of tofu. Sear the salmon and then simmer for just a few minutes in the same sauce used above for the tofu marinade.
  • Want more greens? Cut back on the amount of rice and put the whole thing on a bed of salad greens!

 

 

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Hormone Balancing Foods for Women

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Most of us have experienced those times when we just don’t understand where our mood is coming from, and it changes without warning. It’s not uncommon, but it isn’t any fun.

Fortunately, there are foods that can improve your mood.

By simply eating the right food, you can experience a great difference in your energy and mood. A diet packed with highly nutritious food can drastically reduce the symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as depression, mood swings, acne, and weight gain.

Here is a list of hormone-balancing foods for women:

• Spirulina
Are you familiar with the blue-green algae found in ponds and lakes? Well, it is known as Spirulina and it contains high amounts of magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It is rich in hormone-balancing nutrients, which can help reduce mood problems, cramps, inflammation, and breast tenderness. Therefore, it can reduce the risk of blood sugar problems by resolving the root cause of hormonal imbalance.

• Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a historically popular remedy for its nutritional content. Fortunately, the contemporary variety is much tastier than its predecessors. Cod liver oil is rich in essential concentrated hormone-balancing nutrients such as Vitamin A and omega 3s that help address mood problems, inflammation, and fluid balance. Furthermore, regular consumption of fermented cod liver oil can also improve potency.

• Vitex
Vitex is also called Chaste Tree Berry, which is a powerful medicinal herb. This is especially ideal for women’s health because it helps produce high progesterone levels. Vitex can help relieve PMS symptoms such as depressed mood, irritability, headache, skin disorder, fatigue, bloating, breast fullness or sleeplessness. Vitex tincture gives you the best results and can be added to herbal teas.

• Bee Pollen
In traditional Chinese medicine, bee pollen is specifically used to increase energy, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and build iron. Bee pollen is considered a complete food and is a great source of proteins and other important nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin B. These nutrients are effective in balancing hormones, improving your mood, and stabilizing weight.

• Avocado
Avocados are great sources of the good fats that are essential for hormone synthesis. The nutrients from avocados help your skin release and circulate the hormones necessary to stay healthy. It is recommended to eat a half an avocado per day to get a beneficial amount of fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins C and E, potassium and lutein.

• Salmon
Salmon is good for your brain and heart health. It also balances your hormones because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which serve as a major building block for hormone synthesis. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help fight skin irritations, including eczema and acne.

To stay healthy as well as balance your hormones, the right foods can produce amazing results. Put an end to your mood swings and other hormonal imbalance symptoms. Give these a try.

Be well,

Signature Shannon transp

 

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