This is a guest post by Brooke Benlifer.
Besides being awesome, Brooke is also our resident Dietitian here at The Wellness Bucket.
This is her forth installment of Back To Goodness Series 2016.
When it comes to getting back to goodness, quality sleep is a must. Brooke shares six ways to get awesome sleep AND some more great recipes.
Always such a pleasure having you with us Brooke…
Take it away!
Did you know that experts advise that we make just one or two changes at a time?
This is the exact recommendation I always make to my own clients although this past month, I personally got a little carried away.
One change became two, and then two quickly became three.
The changes basically built upon each other until I ended up with a Jenga tower of new habits that I hoped would not crumble into a pile.
I can honestly say that most of them stuck around for the month and some of them will likely become lifelong practices.
One of the biggest changes was another attempt (this one successful) of instituting a phone screen cut off time.
My ultimate goal for instituting a phone screen cut off time was to get a better night’s sleep.
I’ve survived on too little sleep for many years and now fully understand the importance role sleep plays in our lives and in all that we do.
From blood sugar control, to energy, appetite, patience level, and more… sleep is paramount.
And because of this, I want to provide you with some actionable tips that you can put into practice immediately for better quality slumber.
6 Ways To Improve Your Quality Of Sleep
1) Daily Meditation
I started a 21 day meditation program guided by Deepak Chopra. I have not been someone who has regularly meditated, except during my pregnancy when I was having trouble sleeping.
Because of the number of benefits meditation has, it was enough to get me to try it and commit to a full three weeks of meditation.
I started meditating at night but found that I was too tired and that it suited me better to do it as soon as I put my kids down for their nap.
Meditating is like a nap for Mom. 🙂
When this 21 day program comes to a close, I have an app called Headspace that I downloaded to utilize on a daily basis.
My goal is to meditate just five minutes a day. I’d rather keep my expectations realistic and exceed them, than overshoot them and miss.
(Note From Mike: I absolutely love Headspace. The app is free for the first 10 days and for someone who thought meditation wasn’t for them, I really did love and enjoy it.)
2) Magnesium Supplementation
I’ve been a big fan now of magnesium for years and have supplemented with it on and off.
It has helped me tremendously with migraines.
Most people are actually deficient in magnesium, which is considered a “relaxation” mineral.
Magnesium is depleted during times of high physical activity and stress, and the produce that we consume today has lower levels of magnesium than in centuries past.
I take Natural Calm (a powdered form of magnesium citrate) before bed and find that it helps with restful sleep.
Check with your healthcare practitioner if you are interested in whether magnesium supplementation may benefit you.
3) Screen Time Cut-Off
I was guilty of looking up information and reading on my phone until just before bed, a recipe for disaster.
The light emitted from our phones can really disrupt sleep.
Fortunately my phone is now set to change to warmer light tones on the screen once the sun sets, how cool is that?!
Still though, I set myself a cut off time of 8pm each night to just put my phone away. Everything else can wait until morning.
4) Magic Blanket Lite
Although this does require a financial investment on your part, it’s totally awesome and worth its weigh – pun intended 🙂
The Magic Blanket Lite is a 10 lb weighted blanket that promotes more relaxing sleep. I have a chenille blanket and it’s amazing to see how simply adding weight to a blanket can aid in a great night’s sleep.
5) Caffeine Cut-Off
I enjoy drinking tea in the morning and if I don’t watch myself, I could end up drinking caffeinated green or Numi Chocolate Pu-Erh tea (a favorite of mine) all afternoon.
What I do is drink any caffeinated tea in the morning only.
My daily cut-off time for all caffeinated drinks is 12pm noon.
I save my afternoon and evenings for herbal teas, like Turmeric tea.
6) Sunrise walks
It seems odd that your early morning habits would profoundly affect your nighttime sleep, but it turns out that early morning exercise promotes a more restful night.
Talk about a win-win!
I had been doing hill sprints every morning because I enjoyed the feeling of getting outside and getting in a great, feel good workout in just seven minutes.
But this past month, I was finding myself more tired and my legs seemed to be asking for a day off of hills, so I listened.
Instead, I switched to morning walks starting before sunrise and they are wonderful.
I really do not like waking up when it is dark out, but the reward of a good, long walk in the crisp air and watching the sun come up is totally worth it.
To get back to goodness this month, give yourself the gift of a good night’s sleep.
Perhaps one or two of the steps listed above will resonate with you enough to give them a try.
Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you tried and what works for you.
Nutrition & Mindful Eating
I’m a huge fan of The Wild Diet, by Abel James as well as intermittent fasting, or eating within an 8 hour time period each day.
I am not hungry in the early morning, but do enjoy tea at that time.
I have been cooking a huge and satisfying lunch around noon. I always try to eat outside and then cook another meal at dinnertime.
I mentioned last month that I am following the Ayurvedic principle of lunch being the largest meal and also not snacking or having small, frequent meals.
(Note From Mike: Ayurveda is one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.)
Now that I have been consistently eating this way, it’s second nature.
Fresh warm meals are more appealing to me now than snacks that leave me hungry two hours later.
One key factor that I implemented was to eat without distraction (no reading or multitasking).
I do usually listen to a favorite audio podcast during lunchtime if my kids are napping, but that’s it – no texting or trying to do a million little things during mealtime.
This alone has been life changing. I even keep an accountability calendar to remind me to keep up this healthy habit.
Recipes Of The Month
Stir Fry Vegetables with Bison
20 oz ground bison meat
6 cups stir fry vegetables
(broccoli, red pepper, onion, yellow and orange carrots, water chestnuts, green beans, sugar snap peas)
I cook the bison meat and vegetables in a large skillet until the meat is well done and the vegetables are slightly tender, but still crunchy.
(Note From Mike: I LOVE bison meat so will definitely be trying this one!)
Cucumber Noodles with Grass-fed Butter and Roasted Macadamia Nuts
Here’s a confession… I have never been a fan of cucumbers.
They are like the black sheep of the produce aisle in my mind.
They just have no real taste to me and I always struggle with what in the world to do with them.
Recently though, I was intrigued by the health benefits of cucumbers, namely antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin, so I found myself the proud owner of three huge long English cucumbers.
I decided kind of on a whim to make cucumber spaghetti.
I tested it out on my husband, who really likes cucumbers.
I shredded them into noodle-like threads and added marinara sauce and some other toppings.
The next day, I made another cucumber noodle salad for lunch. Instead of marinara, I added:
1 Tbsp grassfed butter
¼ cup dry roasted macadamia nuts
Cucumbers have now earned a regular spot in my refrigerator. 🙂
Wishing you a month full of goodness and a good night’s sleep too!
Brooke Joanna Benlifer, RD is a Cornell University graduate and Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and twins.
“My passion is preventative health through optimal nutrition. I want to lead people toward healthier, more fulfilling lives.”