These 7 Habits Have Dramatically Improved My Sleep Life

As someone who has had lifelong problems sleeping, I know firsthand the frustration that comes with not getting your beauty sleep.

But there’s a silver lining.

All those years of not being able to sleep well and trying different things have helped me slowly improve my sleep life over time.

Now that I’m nearing my 30s and live with my husband, my sleep life has dramatically improved thanks to these five habits I’ve cultivated over the years.

1. No Tech in the Bedroom

My husband and I just keep our bedroom for sleeping (and sex, of course). This means we don’t hang out in there during the day, don’t work in there, and don’t watch TV in there. It’s important to us to not have a TV in our bedroom.

We also don’t bring our laptops into the bedroom either. We do, however, bring our phones, but they are solely for alarm purposes, we never look on our phones in the bed or use them while in the bedroom. My phone is off in the bedroom since I don’t need to wake up at a specific time most days and my husband’s is on airplane mode (scary cell phone radiation, anyone?)

This just our personal philosophy but we don’t want to accumulate a bunch of energy in the bedroom, especially before bed. We find that minimizing our activity in the bedroom and keeping tech out of the bedroom helps the space feel calm and ready for sleep.

2. No Sugar or Caffeine Before Bed

I’ve noticed that I sleep a lot better when doing intermittent fasting, which is how I lost the few pounds I wanted to before my wedding.

I chose to do intermittent fasting by not eating for a period of about 16 hours every day. So essentially, I would eat my regular meals throughout the day, but cut out late night snacks. So I would not eat from about 8 p.m. at night to noon the next day.

This also helped me eliminate sugar and caffeine a few hours before bed. This is a practice I started doing years ago when I found that eating these things at night—think desserts, chocolate, coffee, or even caffeinated tea such as green tea—would make it impossible for me to fall asleep.

3. Using Organic Bedding

I did not realize how much a toxic mattress was killing my sleep life.

A few years ago I realized conventional mattresses are made with dangerous chemicals and can give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for years after purchase, which can harm your health and the air quality of your home.

Fortunately, the mattress I had at that time was about a decade old and needed to be replaced, so about a year before our wedding, my husband and I invested in an all-organic mattress. We also chose to invest in organic cotton sheet sets, pillows, and a comforter.

(You can read more about my transition to all organic clothing here and here).

Not only is my organic mattress and bedding so much more comfortable and luxurious than my old bedding (and hella more expensive!), I swear it helps me sleep better knowing I’m not being exposed to toxic chemicals.

4. The Military Sleep Trick

So I know this one is weird but I swear it works! It was developed to help soldiers fall asleep anywhere in less than two minutes.

It’s easy and can be done in three simple steps as you are trying to fall asleep:

  1. Relax your entire body including your facial muscles as you sink into the mattress. Let tension go from places you didn’t realize were tense.
  2. Take ten deep, conscious breaths while keeping your mind clear. For me, if my mind begins to run with a thought, I start over.
  3. Do one of the following three things that most resonates with you:
  • Picture yourself lying in a canoe on a calm lake with only blue sky above you
  • Imagine snuggling in a velvet black hammock in a pitch-black room
  • Repeating “don’t think, don’t think” until you fall asleep

I do the canoe one; if I have trouble sleeping, most nights this helps me fall asleep.

5. No Clock in the Bedroom

We actually don’t have a clock in our bedroom. I haven’t had a clock in my bedroom for the last 12 years.

Looking at the time when I’m trying to fall asleep gives me anxiety so I just don’t see the need to have a clock in our bedroom. Fortunately, I’m a freelancer who works from home so I get to sleep in every single day and don’t need to worry about what time I get up.

Even when you do need to wake up in the morning I recommend setting your alarm and turning your phone on airplane mode and not looking at your phone until the alarm goes off. My husband and I have found this practice super helpful (especially since he needs to wake up in the morning and I don’t).

6. Exercise

I’ve found that exercise plays a huge role in whether or not I sleep well. Usually, regular exercise helps me sleep so much better!

I run but I also lift weights and do yoga on occasion. I also walk a four-mile loop with my neighbor several times a week. Staying active not only relieves stress but helps me fall asleep easier and stay asleep.

7. Addressing My Health Issues

So, of course, many of you know my crazy misdiagnosis story which led me to a wild and wonderful journey of hard lessons in learning how to take care of myself.

I’ve been tested for food intolerances and have eliminated gluten, dairy, genetically modified food, and commercial meat from my diet. I’ve found that, in general, my body doesn’t respond well to grains and so I lead a mostly grain-free diet.

I’m also super sensitive to caffeine and sugar and so keep these very minimal in my diet as well. I’ve worked with numerous herbalists who have helped me to address my minor health issues and supplement my diet so I feel better and live a much more harmonious life these days.

Sleep Is Not Separate

I can usually get to sleep quickly now provided I follow all these guidelines that I’ve naturally incorporated into my routine over the last few years.

Sleep is not separate from the rest of our lives. I’ve found that by considering the effect of my diet and lifestyle on my sleep, I can better care for myself to get that essential good night’s rest!

Do you have any sleep tips that you’ve found have been super helpful?

How to Get Rid of Butt Acne—7 Simple Habits

If you think acne is frustrating, thinking about how to get rid of butt acne (also called buttne or even assne) is even more frustrating.

Fortunately, butt acne is relatively easy to get rid of, although it does take a little bit of time and effort. With the adoption of healthier habits including eating habits, you can have a clean, smooth-looking bum in no time.

I know no one wants to talk about how to get rid of butt acne, but there are people out there who have lived with it and people out there Googling it, and so here we are.

The following list isn’t necessarily in order of most importance, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another when it comes to how to get rid of butt acne. So while loose clothing might majorly help you out, dry brushing might not, and vice versa.

Here are seven simple habits that will help you if you’re considering how to get rid of butt acne! 

1. Wear Loose Clothing

If you’re into wearing tight yoga clothes that don’t let your skin breathe, you might be doing your bum a disservice.

Often, yoga clothes and other tight clothes such as leggings are made from synthetic materials like polyester. These toxic clothing materials often suffocate our skin in addition to introducing it to toxins, making it a poor garment choice.

Wearing loose clothing in addition to organic clothing can help you when it comes to how to get rid of butt acne because it actually lets your skin breathe and detoxify itself.

I’m not saying you have to wear loose, flowy cotton skirts forever, but it’s a good idea to wear loose clothing most of the time while trying to get your butt acne to clear up and then you can enjoy wearing tight clothes on occasion.

2. Try Dry Brushing

After reading about some of the benefits of dry brushing, I decided to give it a try.

Basically, it’s just getting a dry brush (which are relatively inexpensive, I think I got mine for $15 on Amazon) and then brushing your skin towards the heart, so starting with your legs and then working up.

I’ve really liked dry brushing although as someone with dry skin, it does tend to be a little harsh on the skin. It’s just another way to exfoliate basically but I have really enjoyed doing it and it’s pretty refreshing and makes your skin feel amazing!

Dry brushing can help your skin recover from bouts of butt acne, just be sure to do it gently and once a day for the best benefits when you’re considering how to get rid of butt acne. 

3. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA)

I’ve been doing a lot of research about omega-3 fatty acids lately, especially since the majority of mine had always been mostly plant-based (I’m not a big fish person).

In addition to being excellent for inflammation and menstrual cramps, omega-3 fatty acids are also great for the brain and body, including your skin.

Plant-based sources of essential fatty acids include chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and avocados. These are great, but they provide the body with ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) when the body primarily needs EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

The body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but research shows the conversion rate is rather poor. Getting the necessary amounts of EPA and DHA can pretty much only come from fish.

Taking a quality supplement such as cod liver oil (I take fermented cod liver oil) or an omega-3 capsule is your best bet (after my research, here’s one of the best ones I’ve found). I take an omega-3 capsule in addition to raw fermented cod liver oil in a liquid form every day. This can help clear your skin right up when you’re thinking about how to get rid of butt acne!

4. Consider Probiotics

I’ve talked about probiotics in a previous blog post and how finding the right one is really important, as many of them contain milk proteins (which I can’t have, being intolerant to dairy).

However, probiotics provide many benefits to the human body. They help digestion, can clear your skin up, boost energy, and overall provide you with a great foundation for a healthy body.

I take a vegan probiotic supplement a few times a week, but natural sources of probiotics are your best bet (and they’re a lot cheaper). These include anything fermented, such as:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Kefir (do not eat this if you can’t have dairy, although I have yet to explore water kefir)
  • Yogurt (I eat cashew and coconut milk yogurt, no milk)
  • Apple cider vinegar

You don’t need to overdo it on the probiotics—an herbalist once told me they should be considered as medicine, so there’s no need to overdose. A daily serving can be enough to help you when it comes to how to get rid of butt acne and clear up your skin!

5. Exfoliate Regularly

If you don’t exfoliate, you’re missing out on a body pampering routine that will change how you shower (or bathe if you’re a bath person—hello fellow bath lovers!).

Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells, stimulate circulation, and refresh your skin. I always feel pretty boss after I exfoliate. If you have sensitive skin, you probably shouldn’t exfoliate any more than once a week, but if you have oily or normal skin, two times per week is fine.

I’m really into making homemade exfoliating scrub (this is my all-time favorite recipe here), they are super easy and fun to make. Certain scrubs tend to be harsher on the skin than others. In my experience, I’ve found that salt-based rubs are too harsh on my skin while sugar-based ones are perfect for me.

Exfoliating at least once a week can help improve your skin and help you when it comes to how to get rid of butt acne!

6. Eat Clean

Eating clean sounds easy, but I want to mention food intolerances here since acne is a symptom of an unhappy gut.

Since everyone’s body is different, everyone will react differently to different foods. For instance, I can’t have gluten or dairy, but I’m fine with most other foods. Some people respond fine to gluten and dairy.

A food intolerance is not the same thing as an allergy. Though they both can have dramatic and life-threatening symptoms (yes, my gluten intolerance was actually life-threatening), an intolerance tends to take a day or two to show symptoms while an allergy will have more immediate symptoms.

If a certain food makes you feel a certain way, you might consider removing it from your diet. Food intolerances can cause acne, even butt acne. Other symptoms that you’re reacting to a certain food may include:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Rash or eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal problems (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.)
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches

This list is by no means complete; even psychiatric symptoms have been shown to be associated with gluten intolerance.

If you suspect you have any food intolerances or need supplementation of any kind, I would really recommend working with a natural health doctor or an herbalist instead of just self-diagnosing and taking random vitamins. I have a vitamin and herbal regimen in addition to my diet that helps me a lot but it took years to develop with professional help!

7. Move!

Our bodies were made to be in motion. Similarly to wearing tight clothing, if you’re not moving throughout the day and are just sitting at a desk, you’re suffocating the skin on your bum. If you want to be successful when you’re considering how to get rid of butt acne, you need to get up and move!

Whether you choose to exercise a few times a week (your best option) or just take numerous breaks throughout the day to take a spin around the office, do it. I promise, your bum will thank you!

Conclusion

So as you can see, working on how to get rid of butt acne will take some time and effort. Switching to loose, organic cotton clothing, exfoliating and dry brushing, and eating clean and supplementing can help you achieve that baby bum skin you’ve missed!

10 Reasons to Exercise (Or, Why I Got an $80 Ticket for Canoeing)

Like you needed more reasons to exercise.

But no really, you do. How many of you exercise on the reg? I can’t even raise my hand for that one! Exercise is so important to our health but so few of us do it.

Get your motivation on! Here are ten reasons to exercise.

1. It Makes You Feel Great

Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Go out there and burn off some steam! Long distance running is my passion because I can go as fast or as slow as I like, any time of year, and can meditate or listen to music while I do it. Enjoying some great scenery can be another of the great reasons to exercise.

2. It Makes You Look Great

It tones so many parts of your body, and I love waking up to sore calves from a five-mile run or sore arms from a weight workout. It reminds me that I am alive, healthy, and strong.

3. It Can Boost Reproductive and Sexual Health

Regular exercise can do wonders for your monthly cramps in addition to your libido. Check your diet and vitamin intake to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs also. If you need any more reasons for exercising—men, it keeps things exciting down there!

4. It Keeps You Healthy

Regular exercise can add years on to your life, keep your blood pressure normal, your metabolism up, and keep your joints and bones healthy. Also, sweating out those toxins is great for your skin. It keeps your heart strong (because your heart is a muscle, but you smart cookies already knew that).

5. It Helps You De-Stress

No doubt about it—one of the best reasons to exercise can be the ultimate stress reliever. Whatever I’m worried about before the run fades after the first mile and is definitely gone by the fourth. I feel so much better afterward.

6. It Gives You Time to Connect With Yourself

Being in the moment and experiencing your body, the way it moves, the way you breathe, the sensations you feel like the wind on your face or the crispness of the air, all of these things ground you: one of the best reasons to exercise. You’re here. You’re a person. Be here.

7. It Gives You An Opportunity To Connect With Other People

So, if you’d prefer to be a recluse, that’s cool. But I will say, after living in a cabin in the woods for two years, that you need people interaction.

No matter how much you dislike people, being stuck on an island like Cast Away is just not appealing after a certain amount of time. And as we’ve all seen, Wilson will float away.

So get out there and wave to people and say hello. These simple interactions mean a lot. For you and them.

8. It Makes You Want to Eat Better

You go for a run, and then, to Arby’s. Wait, WHAT? No no no no no no NO! I had an ex who did this. He claimed that it didn’t matter what calories you ate, you just needed calories. This is a huge lie!

One of the great reasons for exercising is that it motivates and inspires me to feel even better by eating great food. Quinoa, local eggs, organic blueberries and almonds, organic spinach, these are all great foods for runners.

Pamper your body; it’s doing so much for you!

9. It Helps Relationships

You can get that time to yourself if you need it, or, go with your significant other if you guys need more time together.

It also helps with relationship conflicts. It helps to clear your mind and soul, and when you can clearly see, you can clearly make decisions. Keeps you stress-free and feeling great, so less time and energy for fighting!

10. It Sets Great Future Habits

 Hey, I could very well be dead tomorrow. Which would be fine, but, in the event that I live to be like 80 or something, it’s nice to know and be reassured that I am doing good things for my body now, therefore good things will come later.

Also, my schedule allows time for exercising now. It may not at certain points in the future. It’s good to have the exercising habit already established so that you don’t have to “start” again. You merely have to continue.

Cautions About Exercising

Exercising is not without its risks!

Beware of What’s Going on Around You

It’s fine if you want to listen to music, headbang, daydream, punch the air, or whatever else you want to do while you are exercising, but please be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t let a tree branch take you out during kayaking. Don’t let a creepy perv come up on you in a white van and pick you up while you are running (it HAPPENS, people!). Don’t let some old woman accidentally slip a fart out with her butt in your face during yoga.

Pay attention to what is going on.

Be Safe

This is a big one to incorporate when you’re considering reasons to exercise.

I personally never leave the house unarmed when I go running, no matter what time it is. I always have a knife or a taser on me. (Sometimes I take pepper spray, it depends on how I’m feeling that day. Usually I feel like cutting some bitches.)

But it’s not always about being armed, it’s about paying attention to things and being prepared for the worst.

Adhere to Regulations

Ok, so I know very well that I can swim in four feet of water.

I also know very well that I can stand in four feet of water.

But this did not stop me from getting an $80 ticket from a river cop for canoeing without a life vest in a four-foot section of a river in Pennsylvania (those PA cops, man. They do their job).

Make sure that whatever you’re doing, it’s cool with the local authorities when considering reasons to exercise.

This is me in that same canoe on that same river on a different day hoping I don’t get pulled over again, ha. Does that orange thing count as a life vest?

Minimize Exercising on Busy Roads

This isn’t just a safety thing, it’s a lung health thing too.

Think about it—you’re running or biking, you’re breathing hard, and you’re passing hundreds of vehicles that are pumping out free radicals in your face.

You do not want to be breathing the exhaust of all those cars.

It’s basically chemicals going into your lungs. Diesel exhaust is carcinogenic, people. Don’t demean the good thing you are trying to do for your body with a bad thing like breathing free radicals.

Minimize or eliminate this practice.

Try Not to Go In the Dark

Exercising in the dark is dangerous. There is more of a chance that cars will hit you, deer will hit you (happened to a friend of mine), and huge bugs will fly into your eyes (this happened to me on a run at the end of summer; my eye was jacked up for the next two days).

I’m sure you amazing people already have really healthy exercising habits, right? Not to mention tons of reasons to exercise. Remember not to push yourself too hard. Be gentle with yourself and your body. Know yourself and your limits. But get outside and do something fun (and safe)!