Author: Lynn Sheffield

great sleep

Factors for HIGHER Sleep Quality

(Part 2 of 2: Sleep Quality over Quantity)

It’s easy to see why, on average, people are not sleeping as well as they should. Between the environmental pollution, technology, and the constant thinking brain, we are slowing losing more and more quality sleep. Let’s explore some great methods to help improve your overall sleep quality.


exercise3Exercise – Of the handful of studies that have been performed, they suggest that exercise significantly improves the quality of sleep. The only study that looked at the effects of a single exercise session found that 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people compared to a night in which they did not exercise.

bedtime meditationMeditate – The lead author of a study on sleep apnea, David S. Black, said mindfulness meditation probably helped settle the brain’s arousal systems. And unlike widely used sleep drugs, it does not have potentially severe side effects, said Dr. Black, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California.

Bedside NotesWrite It Down, Let It Go – Keeping a journal by the bed can be a great way to stop that busy thinking brain from continuing its cycle. You can use this journal to write down last minute thoughts, ideas, to-dos, whatever comes into your mind. The idea is to write it down, so we eliminate the fear of forgetting it in the morning, and let it go. The thought or idea has been captured, you can get to it in the morning.


Soothing Music or Sounds – Listening to soothing music or sounds can be a great way to keep your mind distracted from your day to day distractions, allowing you to fall asleep easier. Make sure that your sound maker or music has an “sleep timer” on it, so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night irritated by the sound.

Sleep Quality

Factors of Low Sleep Quality

(Part 1 of 2: Sleep Quality over Quantity)

sleepQualityWhile many believe that an excellent night of sleep consists of getting a whole eight hours of sleep, it’s more about the quality of those hours that really count. As more and more sleep studies are being conducted over the years, researchers have found that the amount of sleep a person may need differs from person to person. However, one thing that is consistent across the globe is the impact a quality night of sleep can have on your day. According to Dr. Nancy Wesensten of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who studies sleep in order to help soldiers optimize their rest, says it’s actually fairly simple to quantify quality sleep. “Low-quality sleep is sleep that is interrupted by wakening.”  Waking reduces the amount of recuperative sleep time, resulting in frequent disruptions to your sleep cycle, causing you to transition to the lightest sleep stage. sleep cycle appIf you are interested in tracking your sleep cycles, check out the Sleep Cycle App.


Caffeine & Alcohol – Caffeine can cause sleep disruptions up to ten to twelve hours after consuming. Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake. As for alcohol, it will allow you to fall asleep faster, but it will be challenging for your body to sustain any period of deep/recuperative sleep.

WHEN You Eat – Avoid eating too late in the evening; especially larger meals. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.

WHAT You Eat – Participants in a recent sleep study, conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, fell asleep faster after eating meals lower in saturated fat and higher in protein.  This study found that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.


Working Too Late – In today’s society we have a tendency to go, go go, as there is always a deadline to maintain. However, this workaholic lifestyle can have dramatic effects on your sleep cycles. Let’s face the facts, after a long work day, how productive are you really being? Why not call it a day, enjoy your evening, recharge your batteries and tackle your next day with a refreshed perspective and attitude. You might be surprised how much more you accomplish in your day when well rested.

Technological Devices – We all love falling asleep to our favorite late night shows, or maybe enjoying a game of bejeweled on our tablet; however, do your best to avoid bright screens within 2 hours of your bedtime. All nighttime light can interfere with sleep and your body’s rhythms, but the blue light emitted by electronics is especially disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV.



Catalysts for Change

(Part 5 of 5: Clean Water Epidemic)

Catalysts for Change

When thinking about the global water epidemic, it can feel overwhelming and often times find ourselves saying, “What can one person do to make a change?” In fact, one person can make more of an impact than you could even imagine. One person alone can influence everything from water conservation to accessibility. Let’s review some super simple ways you can begin making an impact and become a catalyst for change.


There are simple things that you can do around your home that can easily influence the overall water shortage around the globe. The simplest thing to do is conserve water by fixing leaks, using energy efficient appliance, and using a few random water saving tips. One tip is to keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain while you wait for the water to become cool. (Better yet, get a pitcher with a filter on it!) Secondly, only run your washer and dishwasher when they are full and save up to 1,000 gallons a month. Also, did you know that dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand? And finally, simply shortening your shower by a minute or two will save up to 150 gallons per month. Even better, if you keep it under 5 minutes, you’ll save up to 1,000 gallons per month. Small changes around your home can have a tremendous effect on the global water shortage.


Of course, there are many great non-profit organizations that you can give your time and/or money in support of their great projects – great projects like The Ocean Cleanup Foundation or The Water Project. However, there are ways that you can help contribute to accessible clean and safe drinking water for everyone. Support impactful organizations working toward clean water initiatives through the products you purchase.

For example, LifeStraw is a company with a mission to provide clean water across the globe through their LifeStraw Follow the Liters Program. This program, launched in 2014, donates a portion of their sales for any LifeStraw product (anywhere in the world) to the purchase of LifeStraw Community purifiers. These purifiers are distributed to schools in developing communities. Ultimately, each consumer purchase provides one school child in a developing community with safe water for an entire school year. Starting at only $30 per water bottle, this is a great way to contribute to a fantastic cause while providing you and your family with clean and safe drinking water. LifeStraw is not the only company out there donating portions of their sales to global water initiatives, you just need to look for them.