Sleep | Benefits of Sleep | Healthy Sleep Habits

The average person spends 25 YEARS of their life asleep! With that many years devoted to catching zzzz’s, the act of sleeping must be extremely important for our health. And it is! Sleep is a time for our body to reset and restore! When we are sleeping, we are healing!

How Sleep Works:

Your circadian rhythm talks to every cell in your body to regulate the timing of when you sleep, your temperature, and hormonal production and release. Melatonin is one of the hormones our circadian rhythm tells the pineal gland to produce once it starts to get dark outside. Melatonin orchestrates the activation of all your sleep inducing parts of the brain to get the brain ready for sleep. As we sleep, we begin a series of 90 minute sleep cycles starting in REM and then dropping into NREM stage 1, then stage 2, then stage 3, then stage 4, before coming back up through that same path. In the first half of the night, our brain spends more time in NREM sleep in the 90 minute cycles, but as the night goes on REM sleep begins to dominate the 90 minute cycles.

During NREM sleep, we remove unnecessary neural connection, move short term memories into long term memory storage, and the slow, synchronized waves that characterize this part of sleep helps the furthest away regions of the brain to be able to communicate and collaborate. During REM sleep, we strengthen our neural connections, integrate what we learned throughout the day to create a deeper understanding, and creates a greater capacity for making intelligent decisions and solving complex problems.  

Benefits of Healthy Sleep:

Sleep really has an infinite amount of benefits and we are constantly learning how valuable sleep is for our health and wellbeing. Here are a few benefits healthy sleep offers:

  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Decreases inflammation in the body
  • Supports a healthy flourishing gut microbiome
  • Increases growth hormone with stimulates tissue regeneration, restores your liver health, builds muscle, decreases fat stores, and helps stabilize blood glucose.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases HDLs to prevent cholesterol build up in your vasculature.
  • Increases leptin  (a hormone that makes you feel satiated) and decreases grehlin (a hormone that makes you feel hungry and crave sweets, salts, and simple carbohydrates.
  • Accelerates muscle recovery and repair from injury or strenuous exercise
  • Lowers the rate of lactic acid build up in muscles, increases blood oxygen saturation, and increases your ability to sweat to allow for adequate temperature regulation while exercising
  • Increases your ability to rationally think, regulate your emotions, be more creative, have a greater capacity for learning and memorizing, and make logical decisions.
  • Creates time for the glymphatic system (basically your lymphatic system of the brain) to clear away any metabolic toxins generated by your neurons as they perform their functions.
  • Helps balance your nervous system and bring you into a more relaxed, calm state.
  • Supports healthy testosterone and sperm production.
  • Makes us more beautiful!

Healthy Sleep Habits:

  • Maintain consistent sleep and wake times, which helps to regulate your circadian rhythm  
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room
  • Don’t use screens at least 1 hour before bed. Turn off your cell phone when you sleep and turn off your wifi router.
  • Only use your bed for sleeping and sex. Make sure your bedroom is void of computers, televisions, worrying, and arguments.
  • Spend as much time as you can outdoors. Sunlight hitting our eyes, especially in the morning helps balance our circadian rhythm. Avoid the use of artificial light in your home in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising during the day or early evening decreases the time it takes to get to sleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained. Probably best to avoid strenuous/intense exercising right before bed.
  • If you find that you are waking up during the night (and not just to pee), try having a small protein snack (ex. apple and peanut butter or hummus and carrots) before bed to help regulate your blood sugars throughout the night.
  • Warm baths with Epsom salts help to relax and subsequently cool the body for bed.
  • Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation (find a video on YouTube), or meditation before bed can help to relax the body and quiet the mind before bed.
  • Listen to relaxing sounds, such as thunderstorms, beach waves, or piano music
  • Drink herbal tea in the evenings with herbs that support sleep. Herbs to look for in a sleepy tea: lavender, chamomile, skullcap, oat straw, passionflower, valerian, lemon balm.
  • Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, the sleep obtained after drinking is typically fragmented and light.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially consumption later in the day.
Women's Health


There is so much to love about progesterone! Progesterone is a hormone in the human body that plays a huge role in fertility, helps us to feel calm and at peace, and modulates our immune system!

Progesterone and Fertility

After a woman ovulates, progesterone levels begin to rise to create the ideal environment for the growth of the potential embryo. Think PROGESTerone, PRO GESTastion. This increase in progesterone tells the hypothalamus (nicknamed the “master gland” of the brain) to increase the temperature set point of the body. This higher body temperature is necessary for the embryo to begin its development. The uterus gets signals from progesterone to thicken its lining and to inhibit uterine smooth muscle contraction to allow for implantation of the embryo.

Progesterone and Our Mood

Progesterone is so much more than just a fertility hormone by helping us to keep us feeling calm, cool, and collected. It does this by stimulating our GABA receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it quiets the body and balances all the stimulatory input we are constantly exposed to our lifestyles. With the sensations of calm, we are able to experience feelings of safety and love. Every time our bodies become stressed, we shunt the building blocks that are supposed to be making progesterone into the pathway that makes cortisol instead. In doing so, stress creates more cortisol and less progesterone making it hard to feel peace and calm. Doing things in our everyday lives that actively reduces our stress, helps the body to create more of our peace-giving hormone, progesterone.

Progesterone and Autoimmune Conditions:

Have you ever heard that people with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions often get better during pregnancy? This is due to the higher levels of progesterone the body naturally creates during pregnancy. An increase in progesterone acts to modulate the immune system, so the body is less likely to create an immune response to the growing placenta and baby. Even when a person isn’t pregnant, increasing progesterone levels through nutrition and botanical medicine can act to decrease the inflammation in their body and reduce the impact the autoimmune condition is having on their body.

4 Ways to Start Increasing your Progesterone Levels:

  • Discover what is making you stressed and find a way to reduce that stressor. If it cannot be reduced, find the best way your body can release that stress, whether that’s breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, spending time with the ones we love, cooking, reading a book, etc.
  • Incorporate foods into your diet that increase progesterone levels. These include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and beans.
  • Increase intake of foods high in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as these are both vitamins that your body uses to make progesterone. Examples of foods high in these two vitamins are bell peppers, citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, berries, avocados, salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes, bananas, and pistachio nuts.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours every night AND sleep enough to ensure that your body, mind, and spirit feel well rested in the morning upon waking up.