Friday, September 21, 2018

Sometimes you have to be your own parent

Adulthood comes with multiple responsibilities. As kids we thought that grown-ups had it all. They could stay up as late as they wanted to and eat ice cream for breakfast. I'll admit I've done both, but neither were as satisfying as I hoped. The ice cream upset my stomach and left me feeling more hungry for actual real food. Staying up super late just left me more tired and grumpy in the morning.

In this way, being an adult, you have the freedom to take care of yourself how you want to. Your extra responsibility is the one you have over your own health and well-being.

Why is it that when it comes to our kids, we're all set to lay down rules and routines - and with good reason! - but when it comes to our own selves and bodies, we slack off and give in to the fatigue, the sometimes laziness, and lack of discipline; or we just don't make the time.

We know what's good for us, like eating healthy, avoiding sugar, fast food, and junk food; and exercising. So how can we advocate a healthy lifestyle for those that we love, but it's so hard to discipline ourselves?

The idea of self-discipline is huge. This doesn't mean that you have to punish yourself for eating candy, but it does mean that your decisions are contributing to your health status.

Today I want to motivate you to take control over your health and your body. Be your own parent.

Start with physical activity. This is something a lot of us have issues with, typically because we're either too tired or we don't have the time. But think about that... exercise is something that is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional health but we're too tired or can't make time for it? That's like saying you're so busy that you can't eat - which isn't uncommon! So how can we get around this?

[Journal assignment]: It's time to re-prioritize. For a couple days, grab a note pad or journal and before you go to bed, document everything you accomplished or did that day. What does that look like? First of all, can you remember everything you did during the day? Second, how many tasks are you completing that are for other people? How many items do you accomplish that are just for you and your own self-care?

If you find that list is void of anything that improves your overall health, it's time to re-evaluate your days. Start with something simple: schedule in 20 minutes for you every day. If you want this to be a workout or activity, maybe you give yourself 20 minutes for the activity, and 5-10 mins before and after for any "set-up" and/or "clean-up."

I have lazy days just like everyone else. Days were I feel tired and I'm way too comfortable to move. But I also realize how much worse I'll feel if I do nothing: within 3-4 days of being sedentary, I'm a moody mess. And that's when I force myself to get out there. Make a plan: Visualize what you think you can manage doing (yoga, a run or walk, workout video, etc), then get dressed and prep your space.

I've had to kick my own ass to get out for a run, or stay in for a workout, and by the time I'm finished, I'm incredibly grateful. There's nothing quite like the feeling of finishing something that is physically tough or uncomfortable. Even if it's only 20 minutes of yoga. Hold a plank pose for 60 seconds and see how you feel.

Second, take your To-Do list (if you have one... if you don't, start making them) and add on at least one activity that is solely for you. It could be anything such as:
  • Meditation (anywhere from 5-20 minutes). Use a audio clip or YouTube video for guided meditations and body scans. 
  • Brisk walk or jog (20-60 minutes)
  • Journalling or writing (5-30 minutes)
  • Creative projects, knitting, and crafts, etc
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Yoga or Tai Chi (15-60 minutes)
  • Aquafit or swimming
  • Read a book (not the internet)
  • Try a new recipe for something healthy
  • Walk barefoot through the grass
  • Go for a bike ride (rent one in the city if you don't have your own)
  • Make a pot of tea and invite a few friends over (or even just one awesome friend or neighbour)
  • Play a sport: it could be an organized game, or just playing keep-up with a volleyball or beachball. 
  • Take a class in the community (in whatever interests you)
20-30 minutes out of 24 hours per day isn't a lot to ask of yourself. Now, granted, you may be a parent with a child glued to your hip, so maybe a half hour really feels like too long. This is where a great support system comes in handy. Use the time when your little one is napping to take care of you; or ask for help 1/2 an hour per day and have someone watch your little one for you. Or, you can do your activity with them. If they're super little, they can roll around on a yoga mat, lay under you while you're in downward dog. You can use them as a body weight for doing Bridge work (lay on the floor with knees bent and feet on the floor; Sit baby on your pelvis. Keeping your upper back and shoulders pinned down, lift and tuck your pelvis, holding onto baby. This is a great quad and glute toner, and baby will think you're playing :)

Most importantly, you're also being a great role model for health and self-care. Your kid(s) will grow up aware of a lifestyle that includes healthy aspects and activities. My mom used to do workout videos all the time when we were little including those by Jane Fonda and Cher. I grew up trying to wear her ankle weights, drawing butterflies on her elevation 2x4" block of wood, and jumping and dancing to cheesy 80's background music. Fast forward to today and I have her old videos now on DVD and still use them religiously. 

All of these principles can be related to multiple aspects of our health and well-being. Self-discipline includes maintaining a healthy diet for you. Keeping up with your physio exercises. Flossing daily. Drinking an adequate amount of water everyday. Reducing alcohol consumption. Reducing caffeine consumption...

... These are all things we know are good for us but we tend to slack off more than we should. Now it's time to take care of you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

When the body (and gravity) says no

My most recent "learning experience" happened last week. I was having, in my opinion, a killer productive week. Correspondences were all caught up on; the house was cleaner than it had been in months; the yard was looking fantastic despite my lack of a green thumb and my constant anxiety of the power cord getting chopped up by the lawn mower. In addition to my research, writing and patient/clinic work, I was filling my day with tasks and getting a run or workout in almost everyday.

I knew that I should probably pace myself. I was really looking forward to a day (or 2) off this past long weekend. I wanted a day to do nothing! Maybe colour, read for pleasure, watch a movie, lounge around in PJs; a relaxing day with no tasks, jobs or obligations.

The universe, via gravity and my incredible clumsiness, made it quite clear that I was burning myself out, even if I was delighted and proud of my productivity. I took a hard fall while running. I was out with the dog, who is an excellent running companion. I took my eyes off of my path, tripped over my own feet, and fell. The right side of my body fell forward and laterally, while my left ankle decided to stay tucked where it was, and rolled.

I knew my legs couldn't get me up or hold my weight and that that was bad. I've gently rolled my ankles before but my recovery tends to be relatively instant: Give the ankle a little shake and keep going. But this time, that wasn't even a close option. So I sat. I sat in that catwalk pathway of our neighbourhood with the dog as she provided emotional support while we waited.

I had just listed to Tim Ferriss' podcast with Aisha Tyler. She described riding her bike to school and one day breaking her arm. Her dad wasn't able to come and get her so she rode her bike home - with a broken arm. Her mentality that no one was coming for her and having to get her self home with no complaints was something I channeled. I waited patiently for the initial trauma to subside, until I felt like I could actually stand and hold my weight up on my own. From there, it was a slow hobble home, with the dog still by my side, being completely patient with me.

It was only then, after sitting at home and reflecting, that I started to cry, and it wasn't from the pain. I was just disappointed. I was mad that I tripped, mad that I fell. Mad that I put myself out of running for a while. I couldn't do anything. There was no one to blame. Just my own clumsiness... and the catalyst of my own body weight subjected to the force of gravity.

First off, I'm incredibly grateful for the Canadian and Ontario medical system. Within 4 hours I had imaging (no brake or fracture, which put my mind at ease!), and was sent home with a highly fashionable (sarcasm) tensor bandage. By the time we left the hospital I felt like I could actually put weight on it again. I thought, this doc can't be serious about a 2 week recovery period. I can stand and put weight on it and unless something touches my ankle, I feel okay.
My sad ankle, all wrapped up

Then the universe chimed in again to hush my ego. I had the worst night of pain. I couldn't walk. I was cursing myself for not getting the crutches. I was so desperate that I took an ibuprofen (shocking for someone who avoids NSAIDs).

It's been a week now and I'm still frustrated that I can't be as active as I would like. What I took from this is that I need to pace myself. It's okay not to work at 100% everyday. I don't need to be busy all the time. I needed to slow down and this was the universe's way of making me do that. The same principles apply to healing.

Healing in all forms takes time. If you try to rush it, you'll get push-back. Do too much and deplete your resources, and you'll have nothing to run on later (pun intended).


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

THINX menstrual underwear

It's been almost 6 years since I ditched tampons and decided to use only re-usable menstrual wear. I wish I had the knowledge to start this earlier, but as new "trends" catch on, products become more available, and also more developed.

Starting with reusable pads from Charlie Banana and Lunapads, I instantly fell in love with real cotton. I was tired of noisy plastic wrappers and all the waste. Tampons - although totally convenient - weren't comfortable when they absorbed all the lubricating moisture of those tissues. I also couldn't believe how soft and absorbent cotton pads could be.

Then of course came THINX. A company with a brilliant product that found me on Facebook (damn FB algorithms and cookies... they know what I'm in the market for...). I was a little deterred by the price, but over the years I had already bought three diva cups (lost one during a move, the dog chewed up another - don't ask how she found it... she's a cleaver pup and at the time had an insatiable appetite for socks, underwear, and anything that smelled like dirty socks or underwear.). I also knew that this was something to invest in, for myself and to spread the word to other women.

I bought two pairs of small Hiphuggers and packed them for our trip to Italy when my next period was due to come.
** If you're wondering about size, I'm about 110 lbs, 5'4", the small is a little snug, but it's a good snug!

Well, a few things happened when I wore them:

First, I couldn't believe how comfortable they were! I wished all my underwear were this comfortable and absorbent. Ladies, I'm sure you understand. Sometimes even when we're not menstruating, there are certain days - especially in the time between the end of your period and ovulation - when you feel like you're leaking fluids. It's real and it happens.

Second, I wore a pair during the heaviest day of my period. This wouldn't have been a huge mistake had I timed how long I'd be wearing them for. It turns out, I had a much heavier day that I was expecting. Heavier than I'm used to. I also wanted this to be a true test so I didn't use the Diva Cup this time around.

Thinking about how often I need to change my Diva Cup, I thought I could go 8-10 hours in my THINX or so without needing to worry. I was extremely mistaken. After 4-5 hours I was still completely comfortable. My mistake was thinking I could then go on a 3-4-hour bike ride without the Diva cup or changing my pair of THINX.

The combination of long duration of wear, my heaviest day of flow (and way heavier than usual), and sitting on a bike for 3+ hours was enough for my THINX to leak. I was devastated. It's been a long time since I've felt sad about having my period. But leaking through my Lululemon shorts on a bike ride through the Tuscan countryside with my new husband almost had me in tears.

Luckily my husband works in sports medicine and knows exactly how to get blood stains out of clothing! Seriously... he was a genius. My lulu shorts were saved!

As for my THINX, they are still my most favourite pairs of underwear EVER, and even more great that I can wear them on lighter days with no need for anything else, or as backup with a Diva Cup. They may have leaked, but it was definitely situational.

I've used my THINX since that first cycle and haven't had any issues. They are also fantastic for wearing during sleep when you have your period.

I also want to point out that during this whole experiment, it was rare that I ever felt damp or wet, making THINX not messy at all to use! Washing is also simple. Rinse with cold water right after wear, then throw them in the laundry with your gentles and hang dry. It's amazing how much fluid they actually can hold.

Would I recommend them to other women? Absolutely! But if your periods are heavy, be prepared to change out a pair after 6 hours or so. Get your hands on a zipped water-resistant carrier bag, like this one from Lunapads which has 2 zipped sections, one to keep clean menstrual wear in, and one for dirty. And yes, of course I bought the "Dandy foxes" print... This is "Healthy Fox Adventuresafter all!

lunapads.ca




Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Many Types of Iron Supplementation

Let's start this post with a little anecdote... one of frustration. I had a patient with a history of low iron who was taking Feramax (a polysaccharide-ion complex form of iron) for several years as instructed by their medical doctor. On this patient's latest blood work it showed that their iron levels (as measured by "ferritin" storage) hadn't budged an inch.

Yes, it's frustrating when a medication or supplement isn't working, but what was more frustrating was that even after seeing these test results, the MD told the patient to keep taking the Feramax.

Now, I have nothing against Feramax, in fact, it can be a fantastic supplemental iron and has been known to be more gentle on the stomach than other forms like ferrous gluconate. I've prescribed it among other iron supplements in the past. But it obviously wasn't helping bring iron levels up in this patient. This often means that there is an issue with bioavailability and absorption.

When left in the hands of patients, it's easy to become confused with several types of iron supplements available. While I was a pharmacy assistant, customers would come in regularly looking for iron as directed by their doctor. Of course, without any actual prescription or direction, customers typically went for the cheapest one on the shelf. But quality matters here and no one was educating these customers (and at the time, legally I wasn't allowed to since I was still a student) on the differences between these supplements.

Some iron supplements like ferrous gluconate and ferrous fumarate can be harsher on the stomach; Some can cause nausea and constipation; Many of them interact with other minerals such as calcium, and not all of them have a stellar absorption rate. In fact, the absorption rate of most iron supplements is less than 5%.

It's also important to note the needs of each individual. For those who are vegan or vegetarian, they may wish to avoid heme iron supplements - heme iron being derived from animal hemoglobin (typically porcine). Heme iron has about 3x more bioavailability to non-heme or elemental iron, making it an excellent treatment for increasing iron levels in those who are anemic.

Another elemental form of iron is iron glycinate or iron bisglycinate chelate. This form of iron is protected by glycine molecules so that it doesn't interact with other minerals in the GI tract; As well, it has better bioavailability than ferrous gluconate. Because of how gentle it is (and cost effective!), this one tends to be a client favourite.

The take home message here is not to be discouraged when one type of supplement isn't working. Even with something like B12... if taking an oral supplement isn't working, there's a better chance at increasing B12 levels via injection as the injected B12 is delivered directly into the muscle and avoids the stomach and GI tract altogether.

The wonderful thing about naturopathic doctors is the abundance of nutrition training we have in comparison to medical doctors. Try not to be discouraged on your path to wellness, but know that there is usually an alternative if something isn't working for you.

ND's Notes: It is not advised to take an iron supplement without the supervision of an MD or ND via blood work. The toxicity associated with excess iron can be extremely dangerous. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My great Italian bread/pasta experiment

I've been gluten-free for about 8 years now. What that means in reality is that 99% of the time I eat only foods that are gluten-free, with about 1% of the time, having some sort of exposure to wheat-based grains. I don't mean that I have "cheat days" but I'll consume something at a restaurant that may not be completely wheat/gluten-free. Not breads, pastas, nor pastries... those have always been off-limits.

But that all changed when my husband and I decided to honeymoon in Italy. I knew that they used a different species of wheat in Europe, and had heard that those with gluten/wheat sensitivities often can tolerate bread and pasta way better there than in North America.

I was intrigued and excited to eat real bread and pasta for the first time in almost a decade. My goal was to eat and drink my way through Italy and see what happened. I was going to eat real baguette bread; I was going to enjoy a pastry at a cafe; Focaccia in a market. Hell, maybe even pizza!

So I did. I ate it all and for the most part I loved it all, but there were lessons that I learned with each meal:

First, not every restaurant or venue gets their flour from Italy. I made an incorrect assumption that our Mediterranean cruise would be serving local foods. I soon found out that even their beef came from Chicago (which induced a huge "WTF?!?" moment for me). Pasta, I learned, had to be labeled specifically as "durum wheat" pasta. But the breads and pizza still left me bloated, gassy... my insides were not happy even if my taste buds were.

Off the boat, food was much easier. I wasn't having reactions from independent/family run restaurants. Anything that was non-touristy seemed to be fantastic, and my gut agreed. I was able to eat focaccia in Venazza, pasta in Taormina and Genoa, and croissants in Florence with no issues. It was glorious. I was able to enjoy heavy starches that didn't feel so heavy.




I felt like I had an excuse to be indulgent; and perhaps I did. But that feeling wears out after a while. By the end of our 2-week vacation I was craving protein and vegetables. I was craving leafy salads and steamed broccoli drenched in olive oil. Not to mention that my waistline definitely widened being on a predominately carbohydrate-based diet.

They were gloriously happy-making meals for the time being, but it wasn't something that I would be able to continue. The body - my body - can only take so much. The challenge now is switching back. Getting my body back, reducing my carb and sugar cravings, and regulating my blood sugar.

The Aftermath of my Gluten Experiment

The last croissant I had was at the airport before we left Europe. It was everything I had hoped it would be, until I stopped to pay attention to my body. All of a sudden I felt anxious, my heart beating fast. What was going on? I realized it was my blood sugar. Having only had a croissant, my heart was racing and I felt like I needed a run. I knew this was a pattern I'd have to get out of. This spike in blood sugar was uncomfortable, but all too common.

Secondly, the residual carb cravings after having come back. I almost forgot how strong they could be! Telling me to go bake a batch of cookies, or eat more of that sunflower seed bread, or, how about a third serving of rice? It's so hard to battle that voice; even more so when you're feeling exhausted.

Thirdly, by the end of the two weeks, and more so in the two weeks upon our return, my skin broke out like crazy! Not just facial acne, but eczema!

What gets me through this part is knowing how good I can feel on a low-carb diet. My tastebuds and brain were spoiled in Italy. We deserve it! To enjoy the food of another country and culture is an experience not to be taken for granted, but for my own personal health, it's not a lifestyle I can thrive on long-term.

I'm so happy I took a chance (with the help of probiotics and digestive enzymes) eating Italian wheat products, but I'm even happier to be home so that I can stuff my face with veggies and proteins again.

Monday, June 4, 2018

How to Cure the "Hangry" - and it's not with extra snacks

Most of us have heard the word "hangry," which describes the irritability we can feel after not eating for a certain amount of time. In my clinical practice, the magic amount of time that patients say it takes is typically 3 hours. I need to eat every three hours, or I get shaky and really grumpy!

And it's not just what I'm hearing from others, but also what I've experienced first hand. We have a word for it in our family too... when someone starts acting irrational and grumpy because they haven't eaten in a couple hours...

But when you think about it, a few hours is practically nothing. Three hours, and our bodies are begging for food again? Seems a little illogical looking at how many calories we're consuming each day. So what's really happening and how can we fix it?

"Hangry" is a sign of blood sugar dysregulation, and it happens more often in those with higher carbohydrate diets. In a nutshell, consuming regular and relatively large amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars as a main fuel source results in those sugars ending up in the bloodstream. This is what increases blood sugar levels and it requires insulin to pop up to let the sugar into the body's cells; as well, the liver will help store the sugar you're not using as glycogen.

Spikes and drops in blood sugar levels can definitely affect our mood and energy. It can also lead to further complications long-term like insulin resistance - where we continuously bombard our bodies with so much refined carbs/sugars that insulin can't meet the demand.

Apart from hypoglycaemic symptoms, insulin resistance is associated with obesity, PCOS, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. As well, blood sugar dysregulation can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The good news is that blood sugar regulation can be corrected with dietary and lifestyle changes (the rate of which will depend on the individual). Here are some tips to get started:


  • Avoid eating at night, or eat only within a 12-hour window, max. Fasting for at least 12 hours will help train the body to not just use sugars/carbohydrates as a fuel source as you're not feeding yourself throughout the night. Therefore, the body tends to use up glycogen stores from the liver, and eventually fat if it needs it.
  • Reduce refined sugars and carbohydrates in the diet. This isn't to say that all grains are terrible for you, but you don't need them as much as our old food pyramids have historically told us. 
    • Avoid those daily breakfast sandwiches, muffins, scones, cookies, and excessive bread, pasta, and pizza intake. Try having 1-2 meals per day that have no grains in them at all. 
    • Avoid sweetened beverages. This also applies to your coffee and tea. Try replacing your sugar with honey, and then slowly wean down the amount that you add daily to your beverage. 
    • Avoid sweet alcoholic beverages, including ciders and mixed drinks with sugary sodas and juices; as well as liqueurs and "sweeter" drinks like rum, and wine. 
  • Include more healthy fats and protein into the diet. Fats and proteins are extremely filling, whereas after finishing a bowl of pasta, you may still reach for a piece of bread, able to eat another few bites. On the other hand, eating something with a high fat or protein content is more likely to leave you satiated. Aim for 20-30g of protein in your first meal of the day. Examples of helpful foods for fat and protein content include:
    • Avocados
    • Unsalted nuts/seeds, 
    • Eggs,
    • Lean cuts of meat, 
    • Fish, 
    • Protein smoothies (see below for recipe)
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been shown to independently induce expression and translocation of the GLUT4 transporter, which helps to transport sugar/glucose into skeletal muscle cells. This is especially helpful for those with insulin resistance. 
  • Drink more water. Sometimes when we chronically feel hungry for carbs, it's not hunger at all. Try drinking a glass of (lemon) water first. Check-in with yourself to find out if your hunger is more just boredom, or thirst, before reaching for a snack. 
Fat-filled Protein Smoothie (1 serving)
In a high-powered blender, mix: 
- 1/2-1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 2 tbsp hemp hearts
- handful or 4 strawberries 
- 1/4 cup blueberries OR 1/2 a banana
- 1 scoop whey isolate protein powder
- 1/2 an avocado

Although some people choose to go "cold turkey" with a new dietary plan, jumping in head first, I find changes tend to stick more when they are gradually introduced and practiced.  When we make dietary and lifestyle changes, give the body time to adjust. The key is in being consistent, and not allowing a lot of "cheat days." Even the idea of "everything in moderation" can cause major set backs if it pulls a person back into their old habits. 

Looking for extra resources and meal ideas? I find that blood sugar regulation can be positively influenced with both the Paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both focus on fresh vegetables, and healthy fat sources like olive oil and fish. If paleo sounds too restrictive, then modify it. Allow yourself side dishes of quinoa, or brown rice. Or small portions of potatoes. View food as your body's fuel, and take it one day at a time. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The dangers and consequences of lack of sleep

Sleep is one of those funny things that most of us love, but we can never seem to get enough. On the one hand, anyone who is tired will tell you how much they desperately want more sleep. They might have to take naps, or just crave a decent full-night of sleep.

On the other hand, a lot of us also need down-time after work and into the evening. Maybe you have kids and you don't get time for yourself or alone time with your partner until after the kids are in bed. Maybe you take work home with you and work late, and therefore just don't get to bed early enough. Either way, we're pushing our bedtimes later, and our wake-up times aren't necessarily changing.

This balance of sleep, work, and time for yourself to decompress, can be really tough to achieve. Part of it is due to how we, as a North American society, view our daily expectations. Workplaces expect a 8-hour workday minimum, with more and more jobs requiring additional hours adding up to 60-80 hours per week. How on earth is that healthy for anyone?

Most of the research I have done in this area is eye-opening. Humans in general need a minimum of 7 hours per night. Anything less than 6.5 hours per night increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers such as breast cancer. (full article with references here: http://thenatpath.com/mind/sleep-deprivation-chronic-health-outcomes/)

I was reminded of these while listening to a fascinating podcast with Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and founder/director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science on the JRE:

(http://podcasts.joerogan.net/podcasts/matthew-walker)
I've posted a short clip below, but the full video is also found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig


Key messages were that in addition to the number of hours of sleep needed, the quality of sleep is crucially important. That evening glass of wine might help you relax, but the alcohol is keeping your system up.

As well, sleep isn't just for rest! This isn't just about letting the body go to sleep, but allowing your brain to solidify all the connections you were trying to make from your day. This is where the saying "sleep on it" comes from. Even for students who are studying - it is more beneficial for their learning and memory to sleep, rather than to pull an all-nighter. You might think you're giving your brain extra study hours, but the connections will not be made or stay the same way if you instead got a good night of sleep.

Studies have also looked at the mental and cognitive function of school-aged children, finding that children are better able to learn when school start times are pushed back from 7/8am to 9 am or later.

And what about our doctors? The ones who pull double or triple shifts at hospitals, or who have a ridiculous number of working hours during their residency? Aren't we supposed to be superhuman and push through it? Nope! The initial regimen of pushing medical residents started with one MD: a man who was able to follow these long working hours. But it wasn't because of his "mental strength" - it was because he was accidentally addicted to cocaine! And now we use this as our standard for medical students and hospital doctors.

This type of sleep deprivation can cause major issues of impairment both on the job and while driving, being equated to the impairment of drunk driving. Falling asleep at the wheel is no joke, and it's not uncommon. That's what makes this so dangerous.

These developments in sleep science should be unnerving for a lot of us. Sleep isn't something to take for granted. These aren't extra hours to allocate to whatever activities you deem important. This is about your chronic health, and the safety of those around you. Today you might feel okay with 4-5 hours, but 10 years from now your health could be facing the consequences.

Interestingly, Walker actually addresses the "4-5 hour sleeper". He says that the percentage of human beings that can actually get away with that amount of sleep per night with no repercussions is a fraction of 1% but even that number is rounded up!

There are multiple ways to help improve sleep. Walker goes into a few of them, though what's most important is keeping a routine and removing obstacles that can keep you from good sleep:

  • Have a set bedtime, set an alarm if you need to remind yourself. 
  • Avoid screen time, like smartphones and computers before bed. Put a blue-light filter on your devices if you must use them. 
  • Avoid eating 2 hours before bed, and alcohol about 4 hours before bed (or just avoid alcohol altogether). 
  • Refrain from caffeine after noon
  • Keep the bedroom dark and do not allow light in from outside. Cover up electronics that have lights on them while you sleep
  • Keep your bedroom cooler at night. Use fans, A/C or lighter pyjamas if necessary. 
  • Work on stress management to regulate cortisol levels. This is crucial for those who find they're waking between 2-4am.