Sleep Hack #3: Improve Your Sleep by Doing This Every Single Day

This article is a part of my series on sleep hacks, coming out over the next few months. 

If you struggle to fall asleep, focus on how you’re waking up.

If you toss and turn at night (68 percent of us struggle with sleep weekly, according to a study by Consumer Reports), the culprit may be your habits when you woke up … 16 hours earlier that day. Even if it sounds entirely unrelated, iIt’s not. In fact, your morning habits may be the single most important factor in how easily you fall asleep at night. That doesn’t mean you have to work harder or wake-up earlier. Instead, you can leverage the things you already do every morning to make your body’s natural cycles work for you. Try any of these five morning hacks to make both your morning—and bedtime—easier all around.

Read on, here.

 

Sleep Hack #2: How Light Can Actually Help You Sleep Better

Learn more about the science of light and sleep, and how to use it to your advantage.

This article is a part of my series on sleep hacks, coming out over the next few months. 

When I was in high school, my parents took us on a long-planned trip to Alaska in the summer.  Being so far north, the sun wouldn’t set until 11 pm. Much to my parents’ consternation, my younger brothers and I wanted to stay up. I could see a clock and I knew it was late, but I was wired. If you’ve ever been unable to sleep at 11 pm (whether or not you’re in Alaska), you likely know the feeling. Here’s how to remedy it.

Our bodies have internal biological clocks called the circadian rhythm (CR). For those Latin buffs, “circadian” translates into “around a day,” as the CR cycles on a 24-hour period. It’s a primary driver of when you feel ready to wake-up, the periods you have energy throughout the day (hello, 2 pm slump) and when you fall asleep. Your CR is extremely sensitive to factors in our environment called “zeitgebers” (come on, that’s an awesome word, right?). The most influential zeitgeber? Light.

Read on, here.

Sleep Hacks #1: The Surprising Way You’re Sabotaging Your Sleep

(This article is the first in a series on sleep hacks, to come out over the next few weeks).

It’s 11:30pm. You’re awake and you have to be up in six and a half hours for a killer day ahead, but instead, you’re staring at the ceiling. Your brain starts to loop, “Wow, I’m not going to sleep and tomorrow is going to be a disaster.” Now, you’re not just awake, but you’re awake and freaking out. So, the next night, you go to bed an hour earlier. Except you don’t fall asleep any sooner—you just have an extra hour to stay awake, annoyed, frustrated and anxious.

You’re not alone. Even though sleep specialists consider 10 to 20 minutes to be the “healthy” length of time it takes to fall asleep (called “sleep latency”), the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that 35% of Americans have occasional symptoms of insomnia, with 10% having chronic insomniaWomen are even more likely to have trouble getting shut-eye—especially women with children.

Read on, here.

 

Basil Chicken Stir-Fry

My toddler (and hubby) LOVED this dinner.  I loved that it’s an easy teriyaki sauce to make at home.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I recommend low sodium, or the dish will get salty)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh (you can do all white meat with 2 lbs of chicken breast, but I like the added flavor of dark meat)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips (1 1/2 – 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (I buy it minced in a jar, and keep in the fridge for easy use, so it would be 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

To make

  1. Whisk together soy sauce, water, and brown sugar in a mixing cup.
  2. Place all chicken into a zipper plastic bag, and pour marinade over chicken.  Compress bag (so chicken is bathed in marinade), and allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.  (I allow to marinade longer: about 1-2 hours in the fridge, and the last 30 minutes at room temperature).
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add peppers and cook until softened (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic and pepper and cook 1 minute more, then set aside in a separate bowl.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in skillet, and add chicken.  Cook (stirring frequently) until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, around 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add spinach to chicken in pan, and cover, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  6. Add peppers back to chicken and spinach in pan, stir, and serve! I add rice or quinoa as an easy side.

Special thanks to AllRecipes.com for the original recipe (that I modified here).