If this title caught your attention, let me start by saying: “you got this.” Tricky bedtime phases are common, and you’re not alone. They can feel looming as that time approaches and leave you fried at the end of your day. But they can get better; you and your little one can end your day peacefully. Work with your child(ren) as a team. Let them know you want bedtime to be one of the nicest parts of the day and allow them to understand the changes you would like to make so they can look forward to it. Push the “reset button” together and become their coach, rather than their opponent.
No matter what age we are, most of us live in a state of go-go-go. We are mentally and physically in motion, and this can create a state of stress throughout the day—even if it is just busyness. Then, we lie down in our beds, close our eyes, and expect our bodies to sleep. Without a proper transition from this busy, alert state, it can be difficult for the body to initiate sleep. The same is true for kids. When this happens, their little bodies may be experiencing overtiredness, a wired feeling, or ruminating thoughts. This can present behaviourally as hyperactivity, tears, anger, chattiness, and resistance. In this article, I’ll give my recommendations to create a peaceful pre-sleep routine that will help tell the body and mind that sleep is coming.
“Too Early Or Too Late Can Make It Difficult to Fall Asleep. One Way to Tell Is By Watching For Signs Of Sleepiness During the Routine, Such As Yawning And Becoming relaxed.”
So, why have a routine? Kids thrive on routines because it helps them to know what is coming next; most of the time, they’re not in control of things like that or aware of time. Cognitively, a routine will cue them that they are approaching the “time for sleep.” Aspects of the routine can also cue the nervous system that it’s time to switch from our sympathetic fight or flight state to our parasympathetic rest and digest state.
A Smoother Bedtime
Timing - Assess if your child’s sleep routine duration and bedtime are age-appropriate and right for them. A routine that starts too early or late can make falling asleep difficult. One way to tell is by watching for signs of sleepiness during the routine, such as yawning and becoming relaxed. We all have a natural window of time when our body is ready to initiate sleep. If we stay up past this window, we are likely to experience a period of hyperactivity—the same goes for our little ones. Getting the timing right can significantly impact your child’s ability to fall asleep peacefully.
Cue the Senses - When designing the pre-sleep routine, try to incorporate aspects that involve many senses, such as:
» Touch - Soft cozy clothing and bedding, cuddles, and back rubs
» Smell - Lotions or diffusers with essential oils that calm us, like lavender or chamomile
» Sight - Low, soft lighting, such as lamps rather than over- head lighting
» Sound - Soft music or singing the same sleepy song, read- ing in a quiet voice, or using white noise
» Connection - The ultimate sense. It’s imperative for a child to feel a sense of connection before sleep. This allows them to feel safe, lay their worries down, and fall asleep in their most restful state. All children deserve love, especially as the last thing they hear and feel before sleep. Take this time to fill their buckets right to the top by letting them know you see them, love them, and are grateful for them.
Power-Down - Although a little screen time in the evening can seem like it’s slowing our kids down or helping them re- lax, the light from screens (e.g., TVs, tablets, computers, or smartphones) can contribute to difficulty with falling or stay- ing asleep. The light from these devices is an issue for sleep in two ways. Light input suppresses our brain’s release of melatonin, a hormone involved in maintaining our sleep-wake cycle. Blue light suppresses melatonin for longer than other types of light and shifts our brain activity towards a very alert and busy state. This effect lasts long after the device has been turned off and disrupts the quality of sleep that follows. Try to limit screen time overall and schedule it for earlier in the day.
Stay Cool - A cooler room triggers the brain to release melatonin and initiate sleep easier. We don’t want our little ones chilly, especially if they don’t tend to stay under their blankets; the ideal temperature for a room is around 20–21°C. Assess pajamas and bedding as well to make sure your little ones are comfortable at a cool but cozy temperature, and ready to drift off calmly.
Food as Medicine - Refined sugar must be taken into account with your kid’s nutritional considerations during the day, but especially in the evening. Most children in Canada are consuming as much as five times the ideal limit for refined sugar (which needs to be less than 25 g per day). When the intake of refined added sugar is high, ...
Available in a 60 Tablet formulation
Supports the normal biosynthesis of serotonin
Supports a normal and regulated appetite
Supports a more restful and healthy sleeping pattern
Supports a normal, healthy mood
Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR is a formulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan in a controlled release tablet. 5-HTP is well known as a precursor to production of serotonin. Within the body, the amino acid tryptophan converts to 5-HTP and subsequently to serotonin to elevate extracellular serum levels. Supplementing with 5-HTP or tryptophan bypasses the limited amount of conversion that occurs from dietary amounts of the amino acid being converted to 5-HTP.
Dosage and Recommended Use of 5-HTP (CR)
Dosage may depend upon the use in mind for supplemental 5-HTP. Doses of 150 mg are commonly used/studied in trials to help regulate hormone levels and sleep patterns, while a high dose 300 mg is often used to regulate appetite or control weight.
We generally always recommend only using one tablet (100 mg) two times per day (taken with a meal) unless monitored by a healthcare professional, naturopath, or physician.
Given the ability of 5-HTP to impact serotonin levels and regulate brain activities, it is important for those that are on any prescription drugs for mood disorders (depression, BPD, etc.) or other psychiatric disorders completely avoid use unless cleared by a professional. 5-HTP is not for use by children or those under 18 years of age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid the use of 5-HTP.
Each tablet contains 100 mg of 5-HTP and 27 mg of calcium (dicalcium phosphate dihydrate). This product does not contain any wheat, gluten, animal products, dairy products, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
5-HTP CR for Regulating Mood, Hormone Levels, and Sleep
Xymogen’s formulation of 5-HTP releases it slowly and steadily over a more prolonged period of time compared to traditional 5-HTP supplements that may cause a ‘peak’ and ‘valley’ rise + fall in serotonin levels. This 5-HTP is a completely prescription drug free product, derived from the amino acid content contained in a plant.
This 5-HTP will naturally increase the levels of serotonin within the body, which play a vital role in emotional regulation, mood, behavior, sleep, and appetite.
5-HTP has been demonstrated to effectively cross the BBB (blood-brain barrier) and displays efficacy when orally ingested without being degraded by the enzymes that degrade tryptophan.
Serotonin production is important for regulating norepinephrine and dopamine levels, and plays a role in normal mood and behavior. Normal levels of serotonin are commonly associated with being calmer and more relaxed.
Published scientific studies support a dosage of 100 mg – 600 mg per day for supporting healthy hormone levels, mood, and restful sleep.
Given that serotonin can also be converted to melatonin (sleepy after that turkey dinner – this is why) to help support longer REM sleep and a more peaceful sleep.
Can help to increase total overall sleep time, which is an important aspect of sleep quality and ensuring you feel well-rested
Can help relieve the fatigue associated with shift work (night shifts) or jet lag
Can help to reset the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle as part of one’s circadian rhythm
Can help to reduce the overall time it takes to fall asleep – in those with sleep disturbances or sleep disorders
Dosage and Directions for Use
Serving Size: 3 mg per lozenge.
Available in 60 lozenge size.
We would always recommend consulting with a healthcare practitioner, naturopath or healthcare professional for use extending beyond 4 weeks.
The recommended dosage is 1-2 lozenges per day, once a day, at bedtime or directly before bedtime.
If taking any sort of hormonal medication, mood disorder medication, or blood pressure medication, you need to consult a healthcare professional prior to use. Those with a seizure disorder, kidney disease, liver disease, hormonal disorder, diabetes, depression, or hypertension might be contraindicated for use of melatonin.
Under no circumstances should you drive or use any sort of machinery/operative tools ~5 hours after taking melatonin.
If you continue to experience any sort of sleep disturbances for more than 4 weeks (insomnia), you should also consult a health care professional.
Xymogen’s Melatonin to Regulate Sleep Quality and Improve Restfulness
Xymogen’s melatonin is a synthetic formulation to ensure those that are vegan or vegetarian can take the product without worry of it being mammalian derived. Many people may not be aware that there are a number of melatonin supplements commonly derived from the pineal gland of animals (often ‘porcine’ or pig).
Many people with negative experiences related to melatonin often experience these sides because of the production quality of melatonin itself – given that melatonin is a hormone, it must be USP pharmaceutical grade and manufactured at the highest quality standards. This is something you can be assured of when purchasing Xymogen products.
Xymogen’s melatonin is a patented synthetic form that follows the same chemical pathway as natural melatonin that is also pharmaceutical grade and completely free of biological contaminants. Naturally sourced melatonin derived from animals will always pose a risk because it can be contaminated with biological impurities.
As the pineal gland is quite sensitive, and melatonin is utilized by the pineal gland for producing serotonin, triggering such as gland that controls the sleep/wake cycle, ensuring a high-quality melatonin supplement is vital.
Melatonin is not the kind of supplement you’d want to skimp or save on.
What about melatonin itself, as a compound? What are the benefits from supplementation?
Melatonin is naturally produced in our pineal gland, but also in the gastrointestinal tract and lymphocytes. It is present in other parts of mammalian tissue. It plays a key role in helping to regulate circadian rhythm and sleeping/waking. It also supports hormone production (serotonin) and antioxidant activity.
Normal melatonin production is suppressed by light and stimulated by periods of dark. Supplemental melatonin can help to support sleep patterns in certain populations like those with irregular work hours, those travelling, or elderly populations with reduced natural melatonin production.
Melatonin has also been studied for its role in supporting antioxidant activity, with concentration in the mitochondria. Thus, it has been proven to support glutathione production, and stimulate production of superoxide dismutase – scavenging free radicals and reducing inflammation from pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Doses of higher than 5 mg do not appear to display any benefit, and we would recommend sticking with the prescribed dosage of 3 mg per day at bedtime.
Sleep is often left on the back burner. But when you improve your sleep quality, your health will benefit tremendously. If you knew all the benefits of sleep, prioritizing your bedtime would be a no-brainer!
Though there are supplements that will help you fall asleep or stay asleep longer, getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night will be more beneficial than any supplement. Actively working on improving your sleep quality will do wonders for every aspect of your life – energy, stress, hormones, hunger, brain health – you name it.
Why is Sleep Important?
Without enough sleep, cortisol, the stress hormone rises.
There is also an association between decreased sleep duration and increased risk of obesity. In fact, short sleep duration may be a predictor of weight gain, as well as insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep is needed for your body to fast and “reset” your metabolism depending on changing environmental factors.
For example, a lack of adequate sleep will decrease leptin and increase ghrelin hormone levels,which makes you hungrier the next day – have you ever noticed how hungry and less satiated you feel the day after a rough night of sleep? Not to mention, insulin response is shown to be decreased by 30% after just 6 nights of sleep restriction!
Needless to say, aiming for better sleep should be at the top of everyone’s priorities.
Tips for better sleep
Control your Blue Light Exposure
Your body needs blue light to keep your circadian rhythm in check. Blue light from sunlight tells your body it’s time to wake up. We have sensors in our skin cells that can sense this light exposure.
Too much blue light exposure from screens at night can send signals to your body that it is not time for bed yet because it mimics natural sunlight. Thus, it is important to prioritize increasing blue light exposure in the morning and reducing it at night.
When you wake up, get outside or sit in front of a large window for 15 minutes. At night, consider using candlelight or salt lamps instead of bright white lights. You can also use blue light blocker glasses if you cannot get away from your screens!
Protect your Sleep Environment
Your sleep environment can make or break your sleeping quality. The best environment is one that is completely dark, somewhat cold (18-19℃) and has no disturbing noises.
Take a moment to think of your bedroom – is there anything you can improve? Perhaps you need to lower the thermostat at night, invest in blackout blinds, remove electronics from the bedroom or even use earplugs for a noise-free night. Whatever it may be for you, every small change can make a significant impact in your sleep quality.
Supplements to Improve Sleep Quality
Magnesium is a critical mineral needed for sleep. Due to today’s poor soil quality, it is very difficult to get enough magnesium from food sources alone. Even in developed countries, almost 50% of the population are not consuming the required amount.
Magnesium supports deep sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and calmness. Do you have a difficult time staying asleep? People with low magnesium levels often wake up frequently during the night.
To help you stay asleep at night, we suggest a magnesium supplement in its bioavailable form. Magnesium bisglycinate is one of the most effective and absorbable options!
Melatonin is a well-known sleep hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It acts on receptors in your body to prepare for sleep. Melatonin is naturally produced when the sun sets and as you wind down for bed. However, in today’s society, not everyone follows a 9-to-5 work schedule. Taking melatonin supplements can help the body adapt to new sleep schedules, jet lag and night shifts.
To help you fall asleep faster, we suggest a melatonin spray that will be absorbed quickly. Spray it 30 minutes before bedtime for optimal results!
Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
Over the past several months most of us have experienced a “Home Life” comparable to Groundhog Day. In the beginning of CoVID, you may have felt the desire to kick-start a new healthy eating plan, or tackle those in home workouts with a vengeance.
However, as time has waged on, the motivation may have started to dissipate and your daily exercise consists of a multitude of trips to the fridge to check if the light is still working (FYI: It is.)
Then throw in fashion consisting of daytime and nighttime stretchy pants with no buttons or zippers, and it is safe to say most of us are experiencing a CoVID 15lb weight gain. But it’s not all our fault.
When we are faced with a stressful situation our bodies release the hormone called cortisol. This reaction causes our blood sugar levels to rise resulting in a craving for foods high in fat, sugar and salt in order to replenish the glucose.
Yet now as we prepare to go back out into our “New Normal” we are finding our skinny jeans are not so skinny anymore; our shorts from last year must have shrunk and with little chance of a new wardrobe on the horizon, weight loss is something we may need to seriously consider for our healthiest selves.
However, we know diets do not work, restriction leads to binging, and truthfully finding balance in an unbalanced world seems impossible. So what can we do right now that will get those buttons done up and bring some consistency back into our days?
Here are 6 Weight Loss Tips you can start implementing today to deal with the COVID 15lbs.
Tip #1: Make a Plan:We technically all know what we should be doing, drinking those 8-10 glasses of water a day, choosing lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, high fibre, and nutrient dense foods. Start reading the ingredient profiles of the foods you buy, aim for food lower in sugar and refined carbs. Making choices that support your goals is essential. However, when faced with the plethora of tasty treats, we can often forget our commitment to removing the new curves we have adopted.
So the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, be prepared and take a list. On that list write your health and wellness goals on the top and plan out your meals for the next couple days. Then if you hear the box of cookies calling your name you can remember your “Why.” And maybe instead of buying a box of 24 deluxe chocolate chip cookies, head to the bakery section and settle on one or two. Even better, pick yourself up an antioxidant rich, dark chocolate bar.
As you cruise the store stay on the perimeter and avoid the inner aisle that mostly consists of packaged, processed foods. Remember, a healthy immune system relies on both the Macro (protein, fats and carbs) and Micro (vitamins and minerals) but we must make sure we choose the right kinds.
Tip #2: Am I Really Hungry?How many times have you caught yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips or pint of ice cream only to realize that you can’t remember when you started. Often when we find ourselves mindlessly eating it is important to stop and ask “Am I REALLY hungry? Or am I bored, lonely, upset?” Finding comfort in food is common and refereed to as emotional eating. Given the current state of the unknown, food can easily become our comfort and friend. The best way to start connecting to your hunger cues is to start being mindful of when you are eating, why you are eating, and how your food tastes. Take the time to savour your food and enjoy each bite. There is no prize for she/he who finishes first.
Another way to bring mindfulness to your hunger cues is first thing in the morning. If your morning schedule is to eat first thing, hold back a bit and wait until you feel a little hungry. Then enjoy your first meal.
The purpose behind this is to set the tone of the day by honouring what you need. Start the day by tuning in to what your body needs and then responding to it. As the day progresses continue to pay attention if you are hungry or looking for comfort. This is not about restriction but about connecting.
Tip #3: Use Your Hands:Now, we all know our parents have told us to use our utensils when we eat so this concept may throw you off but one issue I have seen time and time again is portion control. And with serving sizes becoming increasingly larger it is no wonder our waistbands are following.
Make a point of serving your food on plates and dishes; stop snackin ...
I think we all could agree a little more slumber in our lives would be a dream come true, pun intended. Sleep is grossly underrated. In the world of health we have an affinity to talk about exercise, work environment, and food at length but for some reason sleep is an often overlooked topic. Sleep should be as common a touching point as all of these other topics. We spend, or at least we should be spending 7 hours or more every single day sleeping. Anything else in our lives that consumes 7 hours of our day would be heavily discussed so we should be showing sleep that same attention.
So without further adieu let us change the conversation and add to our healthy living arsenal. Here is your 4 step guide to a better night’s sleep.
MANAGE SCREEN LIGHT AT CRUCIAL TIMES
In an era of smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions in every room it is important to monitor how soon before sleep you are staring down the barrel of your phone screen light. Screen light tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. The problem with that is your body continues to dump stress hormones in your body in preparation for the stresses of the day. If your body is busy doing that then it isn’t busy dumping the necessary sleep hormones into your body to prepare you for a good night’s rest.
Try decreasing your screen light brightness once the sun goes down and there is no more light outside. Also try shutting down all devices a minimum of 15mins before sleep. These hacks will give your brain enough time to shift the focus to relaxation and slow down brain activity. Resist the urge to pick up your phone during sleep to check it by either leaving it in another room or placing it on its face so you don’t notice any notification lights throughout the night. If you tend to fall asleep to the television being on be sure to set a sleep timer on it. Although you are sleeping the background light is still registered by your brain which makes it confusing for your body resulting in inadequate sleep.
A POWER NAP COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
The question always comes up on if a power nap is actually beneficial or is it just an excuse to getaway with no real tangible benefit?
Well the infamous “power nap” is an effective tool to stave off sleep deprivation. A 20-30min nap can increase alertness, improve decision making and productivity. Anywhere from 1pm-3pm is a prime window to escape for a little while and get in that well deserved nap.
WHEN IT COMES TO CAFFEINE TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The conversation of caffeine comes up all the time. We’re not here to discuss the idea of caffeine more specifically coffee being good or bad for you. Depending on who you talk to the idea of coffee will either be ridiculed or glorified. Regardless of our love or hate for coffee the fact remains that in Canada we drink a lot of coffee so it’s a topic that needs to be touched on. According to a 2015 CBC report Canada ranks 3rd in the world in coffee consumption only trailing Netherlands and Finland. It is also very accessible with Canadian coffee powerhouse Tim Hortons having one establishment per every 9,000 Canadians.
So for you coffee drinkers the timing of your consumption is so important. Getting your coffee fix in a minimum of 6hrs before sleep is so important as the affects of caffeine on sleep cannot be ignored. As a general rule of thumb 4pm should be the cut off for your last sip of coffee. Following this rule will really help your quality of sleep.
THE 10-2 RULE
No we’re not talking about driving for beginners here. We’re talking about a man or woman’s best friend after dogs and diamonds, your liver. Your liver is responsible for so many body functions and it is imperative that it is getting all the support it needs. Between the hours of 10pm and 2am is when your liver is in repair and the highest levels of melatonin (a sleep hormone) are available. With that being said the more sleep you get between the hours of 10pm and 2am the happier your liver will be.
There you have it. Your 4 step guide to better night’s sleep. Follow these simple steps and you will wake up more refreshed than you did this morning. Unless it’s a Monday morning, nobody likes Mondays. Enjoy!
Why Canadians drink more coffee than most people in the world
The secret and surprising power of naps
In a perfect world we would all get 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted deep sleep every night but that’s not the reality for most of us with jobs, deadlines and families. Quality rest has a bigger impact on our overall health than we realize; it is far more impactful than just energizing us for the next morning. Even if a large quantity of sleep isn’t possible, you can make the hours you do get count and reap all the benefits of quality sleep.
Why sleep is important:
It’s not just about being well rested; sleep provides an array of benefits. As you sleep, your brain is preparing for tomorrow. A good night’s sleep improves learning, problem solving and helps you make better decisions.
Stages of sleep
Quality really matters when it comes to getting shut-eye. Have you ever slept 8 hours and not felt refreshed or took a 20 minute power nap and felt great? It all has to do with which stage of sleep you are able to achieve. Here’s how to tell what stage of sleep you are in:
Stage 1: Relaxed wakefulness.
Stage 2: Easily awakened, dreaming is rare.
Stage 3: Deep delta sleep, transition between light and deep sleep.
Stage 4: Deep sleep. Bodily repair and cellular restoration. Builds and repairs our bodies.
Stage 5: Dreaming state. (REM)
During sleep, you usually pass through five phases of sleep.
Not cycling through all stages can leave you feeling not as rested.
Simple ways that can help you sleep
Sleeping Mask: This is one of my favorite tools, as it is cost-effective, great for travel and works wonders. I like a mask with a little bit of weight to it; it feels very calming and blocks out the light that may interfere with your sleep.
In fact, light is one of the most important external factors getting in our way of rest because it interferes with our internal clock.
This can be from sunlight if you are trying to catch a nap during the day, or artificial light, if your partner is watching TV when you’re trying to catch shut-eye, or light pollution for us city dwellers.
Blackout Curtains: Another cost effective option is blackout curtains for the bed room. If you need or want to sleep after sunrise they are totally worth it. Don’t worry, many companies make very fashionable options for every décor, they don’t actually have to be black.
Sleep Aid App: There is an app for everything, including helping you to fall asleep. I use one almost every night that helps me relax. A quick search will bring up a variety of options like soothing sounds, calming music or breathing exercises that help lull you.
No Screens Before Bed: Watching TV or using a mobile device is a huge no-no when trying to get to the delta stage. The blue light these devices give off can suppress the hormone that helps us sleep, melatonin, which may interfere with our circadian rhythms.
If possible, try not to watch TV, use smart phones or tablets, within an hour of going to bed. This may be a hard habit to break (trust me, I’ve tried to use Pinterest and Facebook scrolling as a sleep aid but we all know how that goes). Try your best to kick this pesky habit. But in the meantime you can wean yourself off with some functional night time glasses that have a red tint to block out the blue called blublockers. Another great option is getting an app for your smartphone or tablet that act the same way as the blublocker glasses. They operate on a timer and naturally change the screen during nighttime hours.
Bedtime snacks: You’ve probably heard its best to have your last meal at least 3 hours before bed, which is true. However, if you feel you have to have a snack before bed here are a few options that may not feel so heavy.
These recipes by Brendan Brazier are some of my favorite pre-sleep treats:
1/3 cup raw, rolled oats
1 teaspoon almond butter
Cinnamon, to taste
Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a smooth paste is created. Roll into little balls and start munching.
Tart Cherry Balls
½ cup tart cherries, dried unsweetened
½ cup almonds
3 Medjool dates
In a food processor, pulse cherries, almonds, and dates until they create a fine paste. Roll into quarter size balls.
We don’t always have control over the amount of rest we are able to get each night but we sure can take these easy steps to make it count. Give these tips a try and comment below on what works for you.