Welcome to my blog! I am thrilled to share thoughts, experiences and information so you can improve your health and well-being. It’s been an exciting journey for me, so I hope to share my excitement about the impact your diet and lifestyle have on your health. I also look forward to sharing recipes that include health-promoting ingredients and are super satisfying and delicious.
I’d like to share a thought and an experience I had as we were traveling in Russia and the Arctic Circle. During summer, there is only 2 hours of darkness in St. Petersburg, Russia and in the Arctic Circle, there is 24 hours of daylight! Yes, indeed, it never gets dark. Well of course that means in winter it is dark 24 hours a day. I can’t imagine living that way but these people do who live in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Circle. And they manage to adapt, as do all the animals!
In St. Petersburg, Russia when we scheduled a boat tour to take us through the canals and to see all the bridges open up to allow the large barges to get out. One horizon looks dark but the other horizon never gets completely dark, as you can see in this picture. A very strange sight indeed!
During our one week stay, it was important that we went to bed at our usual time and pulled down the blackout shades to stay in sync with our biological clocks. Our body’s biological clock sets our circadian rhythm which in turn affects many bodily processes including sleep/wake cycles, hormone production and release, eating habits and digestion, cognitive alertness, neurotransmitter production, and more.
We must honor our biological clock.
If we don’t, we get out of sync, and not only does this affect our sleep cycles, but it can result in altered hormone production, which can lead to obesity, inability to lose weight, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and adrenal fatigue, reduced cognitive function which affects memory, productivity, brain fog, fatigue, and other chronic conditions such as sleep disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. Of course this does not happen overnight or even in a week, but since our clocks are strongly influenced by our light exposure, it made me very aware of the importance of getting our much needed sleep and the huge impact it has on our health if we don’t get it consistently in our lives. And at times we need to make more of an effort to keep our bodies in sync in spite of what is going on around us in our environment!
In our everyday lives, we don’t usually have to worry about nature’s hours of light (unless we are living way north or south) but instead it is the manmade light of computers, televisions, cellphones, and indoor light. The blue light emitted from these devices reduces our production of sleep-inducing hormone melatonin which stimulates our sleep cycles. Many of us lead busy lives that keeps us up late at night and we are trying to “cram it all in”. Getting enough sleep is crucial for a healthy mind and body.
If you are having sleep issues or would like to avoid developing them, adapt some good sleep
hygiene habits such as these:
- Have a consistent bedtime, around 10pm, and rise at least 7-8 hours later. This works with your natural Circadian rhythm and allows sufficient time for your brain to restore.
- Sleep in a very dark, quiet, cool room. This in itself can take some work: Black-out shades, eye pillows/sleep masks, no t.v., snoring partners, outside noise. Make your bedroom a “sanctuary”.
- Eliminate electrical devices from your bedroom and do not sleep with your cellphone next to your bed. This reduces the EMF that may be affecting your sleep.
- Avoid blue light in the evening. Read a paper book instead, limit computer time in the evenings, use blue-light eliminating apps or websites on your devices. flux.com is one I use, as well as the one on the iPhone. You can also get a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
- Watch your intake of caffeine. If you are sensitive, avoid drinking in the afternoon or evening.
- Avoid alcohol close to bedtime as it significantly disrupts your REM sleep, leaving you
tired upon waking.
- Do not drink too much liquid before bedtime so as to avoid having to get up in the night to urinate. This disrupts your sleep pattern.
- Do not overeat before bedtime. This affects your cortisol levels which in turn affect your sleep.
- Meditate before bed or take an Epsom Salt bath to promote relaxation. These are great stress-reducing measures you can incorporate into your routine.
There seems to be a lot to this sleep hygiene, but really what you need to know that sleep should
be your #1 health priority. Even before diet and exercise, the need for good quality sleep trumps everything else.
If you aren’t sleeping well, your body will resist losing weight. It will increase its cortisol levels (to keep your body going when it should be restoring) which in turn leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. If you aren’t sleeping well, your brain can not effectively “clean-out” its metabolic toxins and solidify memories. This leads to cognitive impairment, memory loss and fatigue. You get the idea. It’s extremely important that you get good-quality sleep and enough of it, at the right times that work with your biological clock. So think about your sleep pattern, ask yourself if you feel rested in the morning when you wake up, and develop your own sleep hygiene that works best for you. Many people do not realize the whole body effect of sleep deprivation. So to start on your health journey, you must conquer your sleep issues and develop good habits. Feel free to consult with me for a personalized plan! And I highly recommend the book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson to learn more about sleep and its importance.
As Benjamin Franklin said,
“ Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Stevenson, Shawn, (2016). Sleep Smarter. Rodale Publishing, New York, NY.
Circadian Rhythms, The National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Retrieved on 7/9/2018 from
Lara, M.(February 2016). Sleep and the Brain(slides). Presented at conference of Institute for Brain Potential, Palo Alto, CA.