Basic Health Habit No.2: Digestive Health and Nutrition Part Two

The Importance of Digestive Health, The Proper Balance of The Food Groups, Food Combining for Digestive Health, and The Enteric System 

Digestive Health

All illness and disease starts in the digestive system and that is why the quality of your food choices (natural, whole food) and how you eat, matters. A diet that is high in refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and saturated fats, encourages the development of unhealthy bacteria and yeast, pathogens, and the systematic breakdown of digestive function. 

The digestive tract is referred to as the little brain with the largest area of nerves outside of the brain. This means that your digestive health affects your brain and nervous system health and function, as well as stress levels directly affecting the digestive system. 

70% of immune system function takes place in and depends on a healthy, fully functional digestive system. 

The food that you eat is processed here and the digestive system also absorbs the nutrients and fluids from food, and the toxic material excreted by the liver. 

The physiological function of hydration is adversely affected by digestive dysfunction.

We have all heard the saying You are what you eat, but it would be truer to say: You are what you properly digest, and the nutrients that you properly absorb

Nutrition and digestive health is a Basic Health Habit, necessary, universally for human physiological health. Basic Health Habits create and maintain the resilient health needed for life in the 21st century.


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Digestion starts in the mouth. The cephalic phase of gastric secretion occurs even before food enters the stomach, especially while it is being eaten. It results from the sight, smell, thought, or taste of food, and the greater the appetite, the more intense is the stimulation. This enhanced secretory activity brought on by the thought or sight of food is a conditioned reflex. It only occurs when we like or want food. When appetite is depressed this part of the cephalic reflex is inhibited.

The teeth and tongue begin the mechanical breakdown of food and the salivary glands create/excrete saliva, which contains mucous and mineral electrolytes to protect teeth enamel and the digestive tract from digestive enzymes and gastric acid. Saliva also contains enzymes like alpha-amylase that begins the transformation of complex starches and carbohydrates into simple sugars. Saliva helps to moisten and lubricate food to help it pass down the digestive tract. At this stage the digestive system is already communicating with the brain and preparing the right mix of digestive enzymes. This is why it is important to properly chew your food.

Acidic gastric enzymes from the stomach containing pepsin, rennin, and hydrochloric acid, combined with muscular movement, break down proteins.

The pancreas is the main digestive organ. It produces important digestive enzymes as well as hormones such as insulin. Pancreatic digestive juices are secreted into the first section of the small intestine (average 3-7 metres long) and contain tripsin, which break down proteins, lypase, which breakdown fats, and amylase, which break down starches. The small intestine also has organs that secrete digestive enzymes and moves food along by wave-like muscular contractions called peristalsis. Nutrients are diffused through the walls of the intestines into intestinal blood vessels and transported to organs to be used  for the various functions of the body.

Bile, produced by the liver, contains salts which emulsify fat,  and is stored in the gallbladder. In the absence of bile, fats become indigestible and can lead to deficiencies in essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. In addition, past the small intestine (which is normally responsible for absorbing fat from food) the gastrointestinal tract and gut flora are not adapted to processing fats, leading to problems in the large intestine. Bile is naturally alkaline and helps to neutralize any excess stomach acid before it enters the  small intestine. Bile salts also act as bactericides, destroying many of the microbes that may be present in the food. Cholesterol and bilirubin is released with bile. Gallstones are caused by an increase of cholesterol and digestive dysfunction. 

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Waste from the liver, along with other undigested and unabsorbed food is carried through the intestinal tract to the large intestine (average 1.5 metres long), also known as the colon where it is acted on by bacteria called flora, and fermented. Water, salt and some fat-soluble vitamins are extracted from the solid waste.

Several disorders of the digestive tract can be traced to too much or too little of the digestive juices. For example; too little saliva can lead to tooth decay and can be a symptom of a more serious condition. Too much gastric juice from the stomach, usually as a result of a bacterial infection, can lead to ulcers. Too little bile can lead to the inability to digest fats, and too much cholesterol in bile can lead to gall stones.

Eating a diet that is natural and whole supplies not only good quality nutrition, but also the fibre and the healthy fats needed to be disease free. Chronic pain, fatigue, allergies, hormonal balance, emotional stability, weight control, aging, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis are directly linked to digestive health.

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The Proper Balance of the Food Groups

Vegetables One half to two-thirds of your nutrition should come from this group and every meal should contain food from this group.

Protein  Our body can use only 15 g to 30 g at a time to build and repair tissue, the rest is burned for energy or, too often, stored as fat. To maximize your body's assimilation of protein, divide your daily intake of protein between all meals and snacks. Slightly less than one-third of your nutrition comes from this group and includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds. At least two thirds of your protein intake should come from non-meat alternatives.

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Healthy Fats are an essential part of a natural, whole food diet. It is the type of fat you eat, and the amount consumed, that matters. Fats are necessary for the building and the health of all cells. Healthy fat aids the function of the brain, metabolism, hormones, lungs, eyes, digestion, immune system and the heart. Healthy fat eases inflammation. Low fat diets are often high in refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar and low in fibre.

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Carbohydrates  Less than one-quarter of your nutrition comes from this group and includes: fruit, whole grains, cereals, tubers and pulses.

Fruit is nutrient-rich food choice; high in fibre, but also high in natural sugars. Our cultivated varieties are composed of more sugar and are sometimes less nutritious than their wild, ancestral varieties. Unlike vegetables, the quantity is an issue. Eating fruit in moderation, and native to your country, is recommended. 

Sugar  This is not actually a food group, but rather an element of your diet that should be eaten sparingly. Sugar is not a nutrient. It interrupts the assimilation of nutrients, contributes to inflammation, and disease formation.

Water is an important component of a healthy diet. 

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Food Combining for Digestive Health

There are different requirements for each type of food for proper digestion. For example: protein needs different enzymes and an acidic environment, while starches and other carbohydrates need different enzymes and an alkaline environment to be properly digested. If you combine food from these two food groups, the acidic and alkaline enzymes could create a neutral digestive environment which would lead to improper digestion. 

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Poor digestion leads to putrefaction and fermentation which creates an environment for bacteria, reduces nutrient absorption and can lead to disease. Bloating, gas, hiccups, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, headache, fatigue, joint pain, and skin rashes are some of the ill affects of improper food digestion. 

Also, different food groups need differing lengths of time to be digested properly. Protein and fats require an average 4-6 hours for digestion, starches need 3 hours, fruit and vegetables 2 hours and melons 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. It is best not to follow a meal with a sugary or starchy dessert. 

Cold liquids can be consumed 1/2 hour before or after a meal but never consumed with meals. Warm or hot beverages and room temperature red wine are ok with meals. 


Our Second Brain

The Enteric System
Almost every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the digestive system, including hormones and neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Glutamate, GABA, and Norepinephrine. 
The abdomen contains 100 million neurons – more than the spinal cord. But there are also two-dozen small brain proteins; major cells of the immune system; one class of the body’s natural opiates; and native benzodiazepines. 
The enteric nervous system is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and the colon, and plays a key role in human emotions, but few of us even knows the enteric nervous system exists, and therefore, digestive health is often overlooked. Symptoms from the two brains can get confused, and just as the brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain. 
If you’ve ever had your stomach in knots before speaking in public, then you know the stomach listens carefully to the brain. In fact, according to William Whitehead, PhD, a professor of medicine and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, the entire digestive system is closely attuned to a person’s emotions and state of mind. People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer symptoms during times of stress and anxiety, and even perfectly healthy people can have an increase of stomach pain, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea during stressful life events.  
There is a constant exchange of chemicals and electrical messages between the two systems. In fact, many scientists often refer to them as one entity; the brain-gut axis. Therefore, what affects the stomach will directly affect the brain and vice versa.

Almond Milk

6 servings
         2 cups almonds         
4 cups water
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

1. Soak almonds and vanilla bean overnight  
2. Discard soaking water and rinse almonds  
3. Blend almonds, water and vanilla  
4. Strain 
5. Serve

Soluble and Insoluble Fibre
Acid-Alkaline pH Balance 
Healthy Carbohydrates 
Healthy Fats 
Essential Fatty Acids
Antioxidant Phenolic Phytochemicals
Power/ Healing Foods

Basic Health Habit No.2: Digestive Health and Nutrition Part One


 What You Eat Today Walks and Talks Tomorrow

Digestive Health

There are only a handful of requirements for a healthy digestive system, but they are essential and non-negotiable.
  • Fibre has many health benefits throughout the body and helps to create the perfect environment in the intestines for healthy bacteria to thrive and to control unhealthy bacteria. Insoluble and soluble fibre is only found in plant foods (whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and vegetables and fruit). 
  • 80:20 percent healthy:unhealthy bacteria 
  • Fluid: all fluids in the body are electrolyte solutions with dissolved minerals and salts. Hydration is a digestive function. For more information please visit: HEALTH COACH Basic Health Habit No. 3: Hydration 
  • Nutrition from a natural, whole food diet 
  • 80:20 percent alkaline:acidic pH balanced diet
A healthy, fully functional digestive system is only possible with an intact digestive system, with no working part removed.

Digestive health and nutrition is a Basic Health Habit.

A Natural, Whole Food Diet

A natural, whole food diet is the best possible lifelong diet for nutrition. Natural means food that is without hormones, antibiotics, colourings or added flavours, sugar, salt, or fats. It also means food that has not been processed or refined mechanically, chemically, by temperature, or contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. It is real food that has not been altered genetically or irradiated. Whole, means food that does not have any of its parts removed. 

This type of diet will supply you with all the nutrients needed for health, growth, development, healing, good sleep, and anti-aging. A natural, whole food diet will increase your resilience to disease and will contribute to your emotional stability and happiness. You will be vibrant and beautiful and weight control will happen naturally. It is an interesting, and satisfying diet full of natural flavour, colour, and variety.

Part Two and Three:
The Importance of Digestive Health 
The Proper Balance of The Food Groups 
Food Combining for Digestive Health 
The Enteric System
Soluble and Insoluble Fibre
Acid-Alkaline pH Balance 
Healthy Carbohydrates 
Healthy Fats 
Essential Fatty Acids
Antioxidant Phenolic Phytochemicals
Power/ Healing Foods 

Basic Health Habits Have Seasons

Four times a year as the seasons change, I make adjustments to my diet. In the winter I bake more, and I eat, hot, complex stews and casseroles, and my fresh salads become hardier with the addition of different vegetables like cabbage and arugula, quinoa, beans, nuts, and seeds. In the summer I eat simpler meals and more fresh fruit. Spring and autumn are transitional months between winter and summer.

Prayer Soup
Cooking for someone you love is a sacred thing. Think of it as a prayer ritual. Start with gratitude - for your family, or the friend you're helping to heal; for the bounty and your ability to put it to good purpose; for the good smells and tastes and for variety.  
Garlic, leeks and onions are high in flavonoids and phytochemicals for healthy cholesterol levels. Highly coloured vegetables are rich in other phytochemicals with benefits including cancer prevention. Parsley and peppers are high in vitamin C. Rosemary is said to aid memory. Dried beans, peas and lentils are little gems of nutrition. With little or no fat and no cholesterol, they are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron and folate. Research suggests they reduce bad cholesterol; help prevent certain cancers and normalize blood sugar. Tomatoes get their red colour from lycopene which is cancer protective. Chicken and beans supply protein, which, along with complex carbohydrates, provide sustained energy. Turkey contains a substance that can ease depression.

Gut-Healing Bone Broth 
1 organic whole chicken
8 c of water
4 -6 stalks of celery, finely chopped
½ white or yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 inch ginger root, finely chopped
½ t sea salt
½ t of apple cider vinegar

Place all of the above ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low heat for 8 -10 hours. 

Bone Broth Soup:
1. Repairs digestive tract - aids digestion: the gelatin (collagen) in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients. 
2. Fights bacterial and viral infection: the bio-available protein in collagen and the minerals in the broth support white blood cell antibody formation and function.
3. Heals: the glucosamine and collagen in bone broth stimulates the growth and repair of damaged joint tissues, and reduces pain and inflammation. 
4. Tissue health: the collagen and minerals in bone broth supports hair, nail, teeth, skin, and bone growth and health. 
5. Bone health: the calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in bone broth helps our bone formation, growth, and repair. 
6. Save money: homemade bone broth is cheaper and healthier than store bought. 
7. Easy to make: add all of the ingredients to a slow-cooker crockpot. It can cook while you sleep. 
8. Healthier than supplements: homemade bone broth has a rich supply of bio-available protein and minerals.  Slow cooking preserves the nutrients better than the high heat extraction used to make supplements. 
9. Fights inflammation: bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline.  
10. Promotes sleep and calms the mind: the amino acid glycine found in bone broth can be very calming. Mind Body Green

Quote: What you eat today walks and talks tomorrow. 
Gaylord Hauser


Basic Health Habit No.1: Sleep Part Three

A Practical Guide 
for a Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep

Your best possible sleep depends on the quality of your basic health habits and may require dedication to first eliminate or reduce obstacles, (please view the list of sleep obstacles in Part One) and to renew your relationship to sleep. Adults often need to reset poor, long-term sleep habits. You will need to value your health and to include strategies to realign your sleep habits. The formula for a restful and rejuvenating sleep is individual and you will have to discover what will work best for you.

Please visit: HEALTH COACH Basic Health Habit No. 1: 
Adults should have 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis and that is true for elderly adults. If you are getting less sleep on a regular basis then you will have an increased risk of disease. For babies and children the normal amount of sleep is between 12-16 hours; for adolescents 10-12 hours. The quality of your sleep is as important as the quantity. You should go to bed before midnight. When you have high levels of stress or there is illness, your sleep requirements increase as does the need for an increase in the quality of your health habits. A dependable sleep habit is the best gift that you can give to your children, once established, it will be more likely that the habit will continue through life.

Sleep is a Basic Health Habit.

Sleep Aids

  • Melatonin is the hormone secreted by the Pineal gland (which is outside the blood-brain barrier) into the blood. It is referred to as the hormone of darkness and it's main function is to synchronize the Circadian Rhythm and to regulate other hormones. Melatonin is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. Melatonin production takes place between 9:30 PM to 7:30 AM. 

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The Circadian Rhythm is our 24 hour built-in (endogenous) and self-sustaining biological, physiological, and behavioural clock. Our circadian rhythm is affected by environmental factors like light, darkness, and our Basic Health Habits.

Melatonin is also produced by peripheral cells such as bone marrow cells, lymphocytes (active cells that make up our immune system) and epithelial cells (primary body tissue). With calcium it also plays an important role in our immune and nervous systems. It is a powerful antioxidant. Melatonin plays an important part in learning, memory and fertility. It is beneficial to treat cancer, autism, ADHA, depression, mood and sexual disorders.

It is recommended for short term use (3 months at a time), in small (2mg. maximum), prolonged-release doses for primary sleep disorders and insomnia to regulate the sleep cycle. I recommend a prescription rather than a supplement because supplements are not properly standardized or regulated.  In it's natural form,  melatonin is derived from the pineal gland tissue of animals and can be contaminated and thereby transmit viral material. It is prescribed in synthetic form. I do not advocate the long-term use of synthetic hormones primarily based on the interruption and interference of the body's natural functions. Anytime you interfere with or replace the body's natural functions rather than supporting those natural functions, the results can lead to permanent harm. Melatonin in high dose will increase the REM cycle of sleep and cause unusually vivid dreams. It can cause somnolence (drowsiness), headaches, irritability, hormone fluctuations, nausea and reduce blood flow. Melatonin should not be used to replace healthy habits or good sleep hygiene.

High levels of melatonin can be found in bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, herbs, olive oil, wine and beer. The essential amino acid tryptophan combined with healthy carbohydrates inhibits other amino acids (which contribute to alertness) and passes directly into the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin (the mood-elevating hormone) production and release. 

Melatonin is not recommended for people with chronic inflammatory disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and heart disease who may have abnormally high levels of melatonin because of these conditions. 

The Bedroom 

Your bedroom should be a serene and comfortable environment to encourage a profound night's sleep. 
  • restful, soothing colours
  • recommended temperature: 65 degrees
  • darkness: get some blackout blinds, a reading light and install a dimmer switch
  • quiet: block out noise with white noise from a ceiling fan
  • no television, computer, exercise equipment or telephone 
  • clutter-free
  • good ventilation, air purifier
  • get a new mattress
  • allergen-free bedding
  • get a dog bed
  • Peaceful Progression wake up clock with aroma scents and 6 different nature sounds
  • Chillow for menopausal women
  • fireplace
  • Feng Shui for the bedroom: do not place your bed in a corner or next to a window. Your feet should not be facing the door, a mirror, sharp edges or corners. You should be able to see a person entering the room
  • comfortable personal garments, wear socks if you get cold feet
  • sleep positions: on your side or back with arms below or at the shoulder; if your arms are above it will hurt your shoulders. Your pillow is meant to support your neck and cushion your head; it should not be under your shoulders or back. Do not sleep on your stomach; it will hurt your back and neck. Instead of curling up tight in a  fetal position and holding tension, try stretching out full length from head to toe.
  • do not work in bed 

Natural Remedies 

  • break unproductive sleep patterns by skipping or keeping nap time to under an hour, get up earlier
  • a process of unwinding 
  • massage
  • acupunture
  • aromatherapy: rosemary, lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, lemon, jasmine, frankincense
  • herbs: valerian, kava, chamomile, hops, passionflower, lemon balm, ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), scullcap
  • Yogi bedtime tea
  • Bach Flower essences: Rescue Remedy 
  • calming bath products
  • homeopathic remedies 
  • visualization, self hypnosis, guided imagery: not just  picturing a happy place but also a vision of achieving goals, health, relaxation and handling conflicts
  • a sleep or/and life journal
  • top 5 stress-coping and reducing skills: #1. is breathing followed by 2. exercise 3. attitude 4. meditation and 5. eliminate stressors
  • magnesium supplement (for average adult: 300-400 mg/daily) combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D (I will give a comprehensive list of foods containing these minerals below)
  • progressive muscle relaxation
  • pressure point: bandage uncooked kidney beans to the point three finger-widths below wrist crease on both arms; try to stay awake!
  • massage pressure points on ears, face and head
  • a healthy bedtime snack containing magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein, vitamin D and tryptophan with unrefined sugars like honey or maple syrup 
  • a bath 
  • no vigorous exercise before bed 
  • relaxing exercise such as stretching, a walk or yoga
  • google a video for sleep: I recommend Yoga for bedtime with Tara Stiles 
  • sex
  • read
  • gentle music 
  • spend time in nature; it is easy to forget how good this makes you feel 
  • hand-held device for mobile phone (radiation from mobile phones affects the quality of the REM sleep cycle, it is harder to get to stage 3 and stage 4 is shortened)
  • increase the amount of love in your life
  • laugh a lot
  • seek fulfillment
  • don't try too hard, be patient with yourself- but don't give up
  • f.luxmakes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
  • Waking Up To the Dark: Ancient Wisdom For A Sleepless Age
  • Eckhart Tolle Teachings videos: transform anxiety and fear

Foods That Help Sleep
  • Onions are soporific (sleep-inducing); in Japan they would traditionally place a slice of onion in a cotton case inside the pillow case; eating them is also beneficial
  • Essential fatty acids: The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the food you eat. However, two essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha-linolenic, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important in the normal functioning of all tissues of the body. Deficiencies in these fatty acids lead to a host of symptoms and disorders including abnormalities in the liver and the kidneys, reduced growth rates, decreased immune function, depression, and dryness of the skin. Adequate intake of the essential fatty acids results in numerous health benefits. Documented benefits include prevention of atherosclerosis, reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke, and relief from the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acid levels have also been associated with decreased breast cancer risk.
  • Chocolate  (caffeine comparisons: 6 oz. serving: coffee 105 mg. / mountain dew 55mg/ cola 35-45mg/ tea- 35mg/ chocolate 5-10mg.)
  • Bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, olive oil, herbs, wine and beer which contain high levels of melatonin
  • Magnesium must be combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D to function properly. It relaxes nerves and muscles, creates strong bones, helps blood circulation, heart rate, blood pressure, aids the  metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is important to kidney, liver, hormone-secreting glands and the brain. Cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems all depend on adequate amounts to function properly. Synthetic hormones, antibiotics, alcohol, anticoagulants, diuretics and caffeine  affect and reduce the body's supply and absorption of magnesium. Deficiency contributes to headaches. 
  • Foods rich in magnesium include: pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, spinach, mustard and collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, kelp, cucumber, green beans, celery, carrots, tomato, eggplant, squash, kiwifruit, raspberries and strawberries, soybeans, black, navy, and pinto beans, blackstrap molasses, flax, spelt, millet, buckwheat and rye, ginger root, coriander, fennel, basil and cloves, salmon, halibut and shrimp. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Foods rich in calcium include: yogurt, milk, cheese, dark leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, almonds, cereals and canned fish with bones
  • Foods rich in potassium include: bananas, apricots, prunes, dates, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, salmon, turkey, dark leafy greens, peas and tomatoes
  • Sources of vitamin D include:  the sun (UVB), fish, eggs, mushrooms and fish liver oils

Tryptophan is one of the 20 essential amino acids that form protein. Combined with healthy carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production to clear the bloodstream of other competing amino acids that cause alertness, it allows tryptophan a clear path to the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin production and release into the blood. 

Foods rich in tryptophan include: eggs, cheese, milk, oatmeal, potatoes, whole wheat flour, sesame and sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, spirulina (sea and fresh water blue green algae, high in protein and essential fatty acids), hoummous, turkey, chicken, cod, salmon, perch, beef, lamb, pork, whole grain rice, chocolate and bananas.

sweet dreams


    Basic Health Habit No.1: Sleep Part Two

    Sleep Hygiene Questionnaire

    For a restful and rejuvenating sleep you must first identify and eliminate or reduce your sleep obstacles. Please refer to the list of obstacles in Part One of this article. Establishing new sleep habits will require a love of yourself and a meaningful relationship to your health. It will require dedication.

    Sleep Hygiene means the control of all behavioural and environmental factors that precede and may aid or interfere with the quality of your sleep. 

    Sleep Hygiene Questionnaire
    (10 Questions, 5-10 minutes)

    1. In your experience, a typical night consists of:   
    • sleeping soundly the entire night
    • sleeping soundly with one or two interruptions
    • sleeping lightly after interruptions
    • unable to fall back to sleep after interruptions
    • sleeping 7-8 hours
    • sleeping less than 7 hours on a regular basis 

    2. Do you have difficulty falling to sleep at night?
    • yes
    • some
    • no 

    3. How do you typically feel during waking hours?
    • I feel energetic and wide-awake all day
    • I feel well rested all day
    • I feel tired all day
    • I feel tired only in the morning
    • I feel tired in the afternoon

    4. Do you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night?
    • yes, I go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every night
    • no, I go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time on working days but different times on days off work
    • no, every night is different

    5. You have an important decision to make that will affect your life and it will require careful consideration. When are you most likely to think about it?
    • in bed before going to sleep
    • in bed after waking up
    • in the shower
    • during my free time
    • in the middle of my busy work day
    • during exercise
    • at meal time
    • at a specific time devoted to examining the pros and cons

    6. You have had a stressful week. You have been going to bed late, sleeping poorly and getting up early every day. You would like to get home and go to bed early but you have an invitation to go out. What do you do?
    • apologize and decline the invitation
    • accept the invitation- you can catch up on sleep another night
    • accept the invitation because you feel obliged, but hate yourself for not listening to your body's cries for rest 
    • accept the invitation, you feel like you can keep this pace forever 

    7. Do you exercise?
    • yes
    • occasionally
    • no
    • early morning
    • midday
    • early evening
    • late at night

    8. You have been having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep for the past few nights. What do you do?
    • call the doctor for a prescription
    • buy over-the-counter sleeping pills
    • try an herbal remedy
    • make an appointment at a sleep clinic
    • try all the sleep aids I know
    • lie awake at night and suffer
    • start using the sleepless nights for productive pursuits, hoping that the sleeplessness will end 
     9. What is your bedtime routine?

    10. List the details of your bedroom

    Bonus Question
    11. Score yourself on your basic health habits.

    This questionnaire is meant to help you to become more aware of your sleep habits.

    Part Three: Sleep Aids For a Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep

    Basic Health Habit No.1: Sleep Part One

    Renew Your Relationship With Sleep 
    The Sleep Cycle and Obstacles to a Good Night's Rest

    Dedicate yourself to establishing a dependable sleep routine. Adult sleep habits are an accumulation of decades of neglected basic health habits, with effects compounded by unhealthy habits. Get outside for a walk and breath deeply in nature. Then you will sleep well. Calibrations of your basic health habits will help to make it easy and enjoyable.

    Being knowledgeable about the obstacles and aids to a restful and restorative sleep, identifying your issues, and discovering what will help you, are the key factors. Ask yourself: Do you wake refreshed? Do you have a clear picture of your sleep habits? Do you value your sleep? If you have answered no to these questions, it is time to renew your relationship to sleep and to establish new habits. The formula varies for each of us.

    All of our body's growth and repair takes place during sleep. The brain is more active when we are asleep; immune and nervous systems; metabolism, and hormones have important jobs to do when we sleep that are essential to our health. Muscles are built in your sleep.

    The first symptoms of a lack of sleep are tighter muscles and an increase in pain. Flu-like symptoms come next. Our ability to learn, remember, and for creative problem solving depend on a restful sleep.

    Emotional difficulties are largely affected by a lack of sleep. Weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders, cancer and infertility are some of the conditions that are linked to sleep deprivation. Your body works hard to eliminate oxygen free radicals that cause premature aging and if you are sleep deprived,  unhealthy aging is accelerated. 

    The Sleep Cycle

    There are 5 sleep stages:

    1. Interim between consciousness and sleep, Beta brainwaves, 5- 15 minutes, 5% of sleep

    2. Heart rate slows, Theta brainwaves, 35-45% of sleep                                                                
     Stages 1-2 are non REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, 40-50% of sleep
    3. Delta brain waves; deep dreamless sleep, tissue repair, 12% of sleep

    4. Body temperature, blood pressure decrease, blood flow is redirected to muscles restoring physical energy, immune system and hormones are active, Delta brainwaves, 90 minutes, 12% of sleep                  
    Stages 3-4 are deep non REM sleep

    5. REM sleep: Increase in eye movement, heart rate, breathing, body temperature and blood pressure. The mind is active; dreams are vivid. Alpha brainwaves, 25% of sleep

    Normally we should have 3-5 cycles of stages 1-5 during our sleep every night. You must have NREM and REM stages for a restful sleep. All stages are vital to good health.

    Obstacles to a Good Night's Rest
    • Poor sleep habits as a child
    • An adulthood history of poor sleep habits
    • Poor state of health
    • Chronic Dehydration (water + electrolyte imbalance) - melatonin production (the sleep hormone) requires hydration 
    • Stimulants: immoderate use of coffee, sugar, alcohol
    • Medications and surgery
    • Drugs
    • Smoking 
    • Immoderate use of sleep medication changes the quality of sleep and REM stage
    • A large meal before bed that contains protein which takes the longest to digest and requires more energy, taking away from the important cleansing, rejuvenating and healing processes that happen during sleep 
    • Processed foods
    • Too much liquid before bed
    • Spicy food before bed 
    • Poor quality of habits 2-7 (nutrition, physical activity, hydration, positive mental attitude, fresh air and deep breathing, sweating)
    • Poor sleep hygiene
    • Lack of understanding of the value of sleep
    • Research findings indicate that the signals from mobile phones affect deep non REM sleep and that it takes longer to reach stage 3 and that the amount of stage 4 is reduced
    • Disease
    • Television or computer in bedroom
    • Abnormal amounts of stress and poor coping skills
    • Lack of love for oneself and value of health
    • Living in an hostile, aggressive environment
    • Living in a society that does not understand the value of sleep
    • Unhealthy aging
    • Unhealthy menopause
    • Sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea, Restless leg syndrome, Insomnia, Bruxism: grinding of teeth, Narcolepsy, Hypopnea: abnormally shallow breathing, Sleep walking, or Somniphobia: a dread of sleep 

    Part Two: A Sleep Hygiene Questionnaire