To Sleep, Perchance to Dream….

Got sleep? Most of us don’t. And whoever coined the term “sleep like a baby” CLEARLY never met my kids! #funnynotfunny. On our journey to health one of my goals was to get solid, refreshing sleep every night again. Thankfully we have arrived! Let me share with you how…

Perhaps my story is a bit unique. I was always a rather light sleeper but Medical School and Residency put a nail in the proverbial coffin. I trained back when working 36 hour days was common place. YES, 36 hour days. We would go in at 6am and not go home until after 6pm the NEXT day. Depending what department you were working in that could mean you didn’t have much opportunity to sit down let alone lie down during that time frame. I do NOT miss that aspect of training to say the least. It took me almost a year after I finished training to even find out how much sleep my body actually needed. Then I got married and had kids. Oy vey!

My sweet Bunny was okay for the first few months and would only wake up at night to nurse and typically go right back to sleep but daytime naps?! Fuhgeddaboudit! Few and far between and WAY too short for my taste.

Sweet little BeBe was an AWESOME sleeper. He was the baby that made you think you could have a hundred babies. Then at about 2yo or so they both went left! I was always so on edge that I never fully relaxed into sleep thinking one of them would pop up and come scampering in our room at any moment.   It became clear that my sweet BeBe’s body clock and rhythm were just unpredictably and inexplicably off! The cost of raising a baby genius is sometimes their brains just won’t. turn. off.

There are several things that you can do to encourage restful, restorative sleep.  We were already doing all of the typical bedtime routine recommendations by the book to no avail so we looked for more.  A balanced, whole food based diet rich in fresh veggies and fruit and all of their beneficial nutrients and anti-oxidants is essential. If you don’t think your meeting the mark of the recommended 5-9 fruits and veggies a day, consider filling in the gaps with a whole food based supplement like Juice Plus.

We also started adding Epsom Salt to their bath every night. The magnesium causes a relaxation response and also helps the liver sulfate and remove toxins from the body (great addition during cold and flu season for that reason, too). If you find that you are consistently popping up at 3 – 4am, it could be due to your liver being overwhelmed with clearing all of the toxins that we are confronted with daily.

I started dabbling in essential oils, too. Lavender, chamomile, and geranium essential oils seemed to be the most helpful in facilitating restful sleep. Make sure that you get genuine essential oils and not just a fragrance.  For more info read this.  You can add a few drops of them to the Epsom Salt that you put in in the bathtub or use a diffuser near bed time to signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down. White noise machines with pleasant ocean waves and the like can help lull you to sleep.  Reducing exposure to bright, blue wave lights from TVs, cellphones and the like near bed time can be helpful but also adding red or magenta colored night lights helps to encourage a relaxed state. Red or magenta tones are the colors you “see” in utero as a fetus floating around in your mother’s womb. Red or magenta night lights help mimic that peaceful nurturing environment.

Believe it or not, probiotics can also be quite helpful. Serotonin (a neurotransmitter that impacts mood) is actually produced in your gut! So if your gut is inflamed or the good bacteria in your gut is not present in good numbers, that can impact your ability to adequately produce serotonin (low serotonin can also contribute to depression by the way). Serotonin THEN has to travel to the brain where it is converted by the pineal gland to melatonin which signals to the brain that it is time to sleep.  So if your gut isn’t producing enough serotonin, then your brain won’t get the melatonin signal to shut it down for the night. So you see – all things do seem to begin in the gut!

If you find that you are still having trouble, consider seeing an Integrative Doctor that can do a simple, non-invasive test like a urine OATS test to look for hormones,  neurotransmitters, and metabolites or by-products of physiological processes to see if there is evidence of nutritional deficiencies for which natural supplementation would be useful.

Good, restful, restorative sleep is essential to child development, learning and just having a foothold on a good day in the morning. Here’s to you on the road to rest!

Happy Healthy Living (and sleeping)!

Until next time….

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • A balanced whole food based diet rich in antioxidants helps encourage restful sleep
  • Epsom Salt baths and the magnesium therein can help relax you and help your liver clear toxins from the day
  • Red or Magenta night lights help induce a relaxed state
  • Probiotics can support your gut’s production of serotonin so your  brain can convert it to melatonin to signal that it’s time to shut it down for the night

The Name Game

A few weeks ago we talked about “What’s in a Name?!” where we focused on food labels and what they meant.  This week let’s focus on personal care products and how to shop wisely.

First and foremost, don’t be fooled by packaging.  Often times the same old players will catch wind of the newest trendy oil or ingredient and simply change the color of their packaging to green and scrawl “NATURAL” all over the bottle (even though we now know that the word natural means nothing).  Then they print in bold letters the name of the latest trendy ingredient.  Please know that could mean they put a drop of the new thing in a huge vat of their same ole chemical laden formula, make it pretty, jack the price up, place it strategically in the store, and rake in the dough!  Don’t fall for it! If “natural” isn’t what that company was founded on, “natural” is likely not what they are really doing….

While working on production for our next lavender based product line a friendly healthcare worker overheard the conversation and belted out “oh that’s that stuff that has all these babies coming in our office with rashes!”  I politely asked “what stuff?!”  She went on about the big purple bottle of ‘nighttime’ baby wash and lotion that bears a household name. I smiled and thought to myself “I’d bet money there isn’t one drop of lavender in there”.  Sure enough we pulled it up online and for starters, the first ingredient is WATER! If you don’t know, that matters because the ingredients are listed in order by volume.  That means that water makes up the largest component of what is in that bottle for which you’re overpaying. The rest of the ingredients were nothing that any average person can even read, let alone pronounce! I have a degree in Chemistry and I still paused to dust off those brain cells in the back of my mind that haven’t been used lately to read it! The last and final ingredient was PARFUM! Case closed!! You just bought overpriced, chemical laden water with PARFUM.  Parfum or simply (synthetic) fragrance have NO therapeutic effect! so even though it may smell remotely like lavender it will do NOTHING to relax or calm anyone, most especially after your immune system goes berserk trying to process all those chemicals you just slapped on!

perfume-1468091Authentic essential oils have been scientifically proven to have therapeutic effect on your mind, body and psyche. Parfum? not so much!

Why does any of this matter?  We forget sometimes that the skin is the largest organ in the body and we absorb what we apply. How else would deodorant work if that weren’t the case?

Let’s dive into some of the chemicals and why we should be concerned…

Here are just a few of the usual suspects.

Parabens (paraben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben)

Parabens are VERY commonly used preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products like lotions and deodorants (remember that). It is widely known that they are hormone disruptors but they also STIMULATE CANCER CELLS. Well, remember I just mentioned deodorant? About 90% of breast cancers occur in the upper outer quadrant (the part closest to the armpit). Your deodorant could be a large part of the problem.  Then there is also the aluminum factor but that is a topic for another day.

 

Lead and Heavy Metals (???)

These are typically contaminants and, therefore, may not even be listed in the ingredients but still commonly found in lipsticks and other cosmetics like foundation. Developmental delays and frank mental retardation, hormone and general organ disruption are some of the biggest concerns. Guess what? If you used any of these items before or during pregnancy, then your kid(s) were exposed, too! They absorb what you are exposed to via the umbilical cord while you’re pregnant.

 

Petroleum Jelly

Did you catch that? PETROLeum jelly. PETROL = GASOLINE.  You heard me correctly! The same source of oil that creates gasoline for your car is what you are slathering on your lips everyday!

 

Formaldehyde (Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and others)

Used in many industries (including morgues for preserving dead bodies) and can also be found in baby personal care products. Cancer and skin irritation are the major concerns.  Also be mindful that it is also used to fix the dyes found in clothes so the colors are brighter so ALWAYS wash new clothes before you wear them the first time – especially for our little ones.

Phthalates (phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance)

Commonly used in cosmetics and lotions and can also disrupt hormones, fertility, and contribute to cancer risk and a host of other issues.

 

Talc (Talcum powder, Cosmetic Talc)

Commonly found in “baby powders”, feminine hygiene products. Recently recognized as a causative factor in ovarian cancer.

 

pexels-photo-6So start reading your labels. If you can’t read or pronounce it, you may want to think twice. This is why I went through so much to create products that I feel comfortable using and using on my kids. My husband blinked and I had turned my side of the garage into a literal apothecary! I began reaching out to organic wholesalers and farmers and started concocting personal care products to use so that I knew EXACTLY what sweet little BeBe & Bunny were absorbing. I even started making toothpaste! I’m not playing around! There’s a reason why there has been such an uptick in chronic illnesses that our parents and grandparents generations didn’t see. Check your Pantry and your Powder Room. The culprits could be lurking in there….

 

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…..

Take home Tidbits

  • Don’t fall for marketing traps and pretty new bottles or labels
  • Your skin absorbs what you put on it
  • Water is likely the first ingredient in a lot of your personal care products
  • If you can’t read the labels of your personal care products, you probably should be using them

Helpful Resources

Sweet Cheeks Personal Care Products by Mommy Made, M.D.

Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

Substances Listed in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens

Fragrance allergens in cosmetic products

Safe Cosmetics

Please be sure to check out the informative video below. Questions or comments? Ask me comments sectionbelow.

The Doctor is in…