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Meet The Jody Senna

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Meet The Jody Senna

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10593017_1094389503905462_7863491356762146009_nBefore I had children, I was a marvelous sleeper; I put my head on the pillow and woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to face the day!  But after a few years of interrupted nights from babies needing my attention, and my sleep patterns weren’t shredded like an over-washed bed sheet.

For years I refused to use the word, insomnia; I just told Garry that I didn’t seem to sleep well and doing loads of laundry at 3 am began to be my new norm.  My family adjusted around my sleep patterns and as teenagers my kids knew NOT to come home late and wake me up; it would cause me to stay awake for hours.

But not only do our bodies need consistent hours of sleep each night, our minds and our emotions fare better with rest also.  Have you ever laid awake, your mind in a whirl, and found those thoughts taking your down a rabbit’s hole of despair?  Maybe you have concerns on your mind, and the next thing you know your thoughts are telling you that you’re going to have to sell your house, your kids all hate you, you’ve got 5 different diseases and the world is going to Hell in a hand basket!  Sound familiar?

Through the years I’ve learned that like most areas of our health and well being, we need to create a personal map if we want to find success.  If you don’t sleep well, take a 30,000 foot look at your life and see where your roads are taking you.  Chart your sleep patterns; think about what you ate on the days you sleep well and the ones where you’re awake more than asleep.  What triggers your sleeplessness?  Pizza? Fears?  Worry?  Hormones?

As I’ve created my own sleep map, here are a few of the toll booths I’ve come upon that either put me on a speedway to sleep land or detour my dreams for hours:

  1. Coffee after 4 pm or too much liquid any time after 7 pm.  I know that this sounds pretty basic, but I love coffee and wish I could sit down and enjoy a cup after dinner like the people do in old movies.  But it’s a sleep detour.
  2. Screen time.  I’ve learned that I absolutely HAVE to shut down my computer, my iPad and my iPhone at least 30 to 60 minutes before I go to bed if I want to sleep all night. The light affects your melatonin levels, or something like that.
  3. But while we’re talking about melatonin, let me beg you to PLEASE not buy a bottle of melatonin at your favorite pharmacy and use that to help you sleep.  I did, but have since learned that taking melatonin disrupts your body’s normal circadian rhythm and can cause long-term problems.  You’ll pay the toll to the troll but he won’t give you access to the highway.
  4. Eat a light dinner.  I sleep so much better if I feel slightly hungry before I go to bed.  My head used to tell me to go downstairs and grab something to nibble on, but now I view the tinge of hunger as a sign of a good night’s rest.  The toll for not eating before bed is a ride on the super highway of sleep!
  5. Read an old fashioned, paper book before turning out your light for the evening.  This is even better than falling asleep to something on your television. In fact, consider moving your tv out of your bedroom.  I realized that’s a heretical statement, but I’m just trying to help you get better sleep. 🙂
  6. Here’s another one we don’t like to discuss:  exercise.  When you exercise it releases hormones into you system that help you feel better about yourself and it can also relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger which are emotions that might be keeping you awake at night.

I hope my “roadmap” didn’t put you to sleep!  I realize that it still needs more topographical work done on it, but I’m now sleeping much more soundly than I have in years.  Your map may have some of the same routes as mine and it might have some different roadblocks and detours you need to navigate, but I’d like to encourage you to get started.  Sleep is a beautiful thing!

12065801_1091652367512509_4818478977894527890_nIn January of this year, I decided that my family and I should embark upon a new eating journey.  I had started slipping down a slope of slothfulness when it came to our family dinners, which meant we rarely ate together as a family and we ate whatever I quickly threw together.

Winters are cold and bleak here in Virginia so I began envisioning meals that would take me on a daily vacation.  The Mediterranean diet sounded lovely so I went to the library and checked out several books.  I began envisioning slow, leisurely dinners that would feel as though I was sitting near a sea of clear azure blue water while enjoying a lightly chilled glass of red wine while dipping my homemade focaccia bread in lightly peppered olive oil.

It was such a great idea!  At least in theory.  Unfortunately, leisurely meals and toddlers aren’t a good mix and not surprisingly, all that wine and focaccia bread went straight to my mid-life-mid-section.  It wasn’t the all-healthy, lose weight diet I had hoped for, but I learned 3 very important things from this adventure:

  1. Make eating dinner together with your family THE priority.  Make it the norm, not the occasional.  Our lives changed for the better as a family once I re-prioritized our daily family meal.
  2. Salads and vegetables should be THE MAIN DISH of your meal and the meat and starches (if you need the bread or potatoes) be the side dish.  Eat higher quality meat – which costs more – so just eat less of it.
  3. Drinking alcohol and eating bread every night can make you fat. 🙂

We’re midway through Fall now, with Winter riding on its coattails, but this year I’m going into it with the Mediterranean in my heart, not on my hips!  😉