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.

Supporting a Happy and Healthy Microbiome

There is so much to love about bacteria! Did you know for every single human cell in your body, there are 10 bacterial cells?! That’s a lot of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (making up the gut microbiome), on your skin, on mucous membranes, in your lungs, and on any other body surface that is exposed to the outside world. We tend to think of bacteria as bad (and don’t get me wrong, there are harmful bacteria out there) but there is also a plethora of good bacteria that keep us healthy, nourished, and disease-free. Our bodies need our microbiome to survive and our microbiome needs us to survive, so we work together to survive and thrive.

How we help our microbiome:

  • We nourish our gut microbiome with the foods we eat. In addition, goblet cells in our intestinal tract create mucus, which the bacteria consume.
  • Our lower intestinal tract is void of oxygen, which is necessary for the survival of anaerobic bacteria.
  • We create a warm, dark, moist place for the bacteria to flourish.

How our microbiome helps us:

  • Our gut bacteria are quite good at taking up space, leaving no room for bad bacteria to take up residence. If you have ever received an antibiotic, it has killed some of the gut microbiome, leaving space for bacteria that aren’t typically in our microbiome to come in and potentially wreak havoc.
  • Our gut microbiome can actively fight off pathogenic bacteria.
  • Our gut microbiome helps us to digest foods that are too hard for our own bodies to digest, such as fiber and complex carbohydrates. By doing this, the bacteria create short chain fatty acids which our colon cells use as energy.
  • Bacteria in the gut synthesize vitamin K which is mainly used to help our blood clot.
  • Our microbiota teaches our immune system which bacteria are helpful and which bacteria are harmful. In doing so, the immune system learns to discriminate between the different types of bacteria to create an immune response to the appropriate microbes.

Ways to support a healthy gut microbiome:

  • Eat fiber and complex carbohydrates to feed the microbiome. This means eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. We can actually starve and kill off healthy bacteria in our microbiome by not eating fiber and complex carbs.
  • Eat probiotic rich foods, such as sauerkraut, sourdough, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso.
  • Avoid the use of antibiotics when possible. And take a probiotic supplement if you do have to receive an antibiotic.
  • Avoid use of hand sanitizer and wash your hands instead.
  • Spend time in nature with your hands and feet in the dirt.
  • If you have the ability, grow your own organic food and eat foods right out of your garden.
  • Engage in movement everyday.

Living Life As A Busy Bee: Adding Movement Into Your Life

Even though most of our lives are really busy, we are often busy with activities that keep us sitting in a chair, being indoors, and mostly leading sedentary lives. We are all like busy bees minus all the movement that busy bees do all day every day! Our bodies need movement for our muscles and bones to be strong, healthy, and supportive to the rest of our bodies. Our circulatory system, digestive system, immune system, lymphatic system, respiratory system, and frankly all our systems REQUIRE movement to function properly. So I decided to create a list of ideas to increase movement into your busy-as-a-bee life! Try them all and see which ones are the most sustainable to keep up! Try picking three to do on a consistent basis.

Movement Ideas:

  1. Do heel lifts/calf raises when you are brushing your teeth.
  2. When you are flossing your top teeth, balance on your right foot. When you are flossing your bottom teeth, balance on your left foot.
  3. While waiting at a stop lights, retract your shoulders as you breath in and protract your shoulders as you breath out.
  4. Go for a ten minute walk outdoors with your family when you are done eating dinner together.
  5. Turn on music and dance around as you cook dinner
  6. When you are vacuuming, exercise those vocal cords by singing out your favorite tune. The vacuum is roaring so no one will hear you!
  7. As you are sitting down at work, to watch TV, or to drive your car, do Kegel exercises. To do Kegel exercises, contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds and then release for 5 seconds. Repeat as many times as you want.
  8. Every time a commercial comes on, get up from the couch and do whatever form of movement you want. You could keep weights in your living room or a yoga mat to help assist you in this movement.
  9. When you wake up in the morning, exercise your breathing muscles by taking 5-10 deep, intentional breaths.
  10. If you have a job that requires sitting all day, set a timer on your phone to get up out of your chair every 30 minutes to do 5 squats.
  11. During your lunch break at work, get outside and go for a walk if you have time.
  12. Every night before bed, stretch whatever in your body feels like it needs some stretching. Maybe do this with your spouse, your parents, your kids, or your siblings. You could take turns choosing different stretches to do together.
  13. When you are talking our the phone, put the phone on speaker phone and do neck stretches and neck rolls.
  14. If you have the option to take the stairs versus the elevator or escalator, always choose the stairs!
  15. Turn meetings into walk-and-talk meetings by walking around in your nearest park.
  16. When you go up the stairs, go up as many different ways you can think of; hop the entire way up the stairs, take the stairs 3 at a time, with each step do a squat, grapevine up the stairs, with each step do a heel lift.
  17. Instead of your usual evening routine, make a playlist of dance songs and have a family dance party!
  18. Come up with your own ideas and message them to Mother Earth Medicine so I can add them to the list.

Happy Movement you Busy Bees!

Women's Health

Fertility Awareness Method: Understanding Your Cycle

When I first learned about the Fertility Awareness Method, I was blown away by the signals our bodies gives us each month to let us know when we are fertile and not fertile. By learning more about these signals and how to recognize them, we can gain a deeper understanding of our bodies. With this newfound awareness, we can begin to make smarter choices about when to engage in sexual intercourse to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy.

The “Normal” Menstrual Cycle

When most women think of their menstrual cycle, they think of the 3-7 days they bleed every month. But there is so many more components of a menstrual cycle that happen in our bodies each month. In the beginning of our cycle, known as the follicular phase, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates about 15 eggs to begin maturing in our ovaries. As these eggs mature within follicles, the follicles secrete estrogen and the estrogen stimulates a large surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) to be released, as well as giving cervical fluid more fertile qualities. The most mature egg actually penetrates the wall of the ovary and is released in the abdominal cavity to be swept up quickly by the fallopian tubes. The follicle of which the egg was released from then becomes the corpus luteum which starts to produce progesterone in the luteal phase of the cycle. Thinks of progesterone as “pro-gestation” because it acts to increase fertile cervical fluid, thickens the uterine lining to allow the fertilized egg to implant, allows your cervix to become soft and your cervical os to increase in diameter to allow sperm to enter the uterus, and increases your temperature. The luteal phase typically lasts for 12 to 16 days. If the egg is not fertilized and did not implant into the uterus, the woman will have her menstrual period, which is the shedding of the uterus lining. If the egg is fertilized and does implant into the uterus, it will release human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which will signal the corpus luteum to continue to secrete progesterone to create the appropriate conditions for the baby to grow and develop.

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

FAM relies on having a good understanding of your own menstrual cycle and tracking the following three signs of fertility:

Cervical fluid:

  • After your menstrual period, your cervical fluid will be dry. As estrogen increase in the follicular phase, the cervical fluid will go from dry to sticky to creamy to a stretchy, clear, and lubricative consistency which is often called “egg white cervical fluid” based on its similarity in characteristics to raw egg whites. This stretchy, clear, and lubricative cervical fluid is an indication that the woman is fertile since it is produced around ovulation.
  • You can notice these changes on your underwear, on toilet paper, or just by the sensation in your vagina. The sensation of fertile cervical fluid will be wet and slippery.

Waking temperature

  • You can begin to track your morning basal body temperature by placing a thermometer underneath your tongue immediately upon waking; before getting out of bed or drinking water.
  • Before ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will likely be around 97 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 24-48 hours after ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will rise above 97.7. The temperature will stay elevated for the duration of the luteal phase due to the increase in progesterone. Therefore, a rise in basal body temperature will indicate that a woman has already ovulated.

Cervical position

  • The cervix actually changes position and qualities as the menstrual cycle progresses. When a woman is not in her ovulatory phase, the cervix is firm, lower in the vaginal canal, and has a more closed cervical os. As a woman enters into her ovulatory phase, her cervix becomes softer, higher in the vaginal canal, and has a more open cervical os.
  • You can check the qualities of your cervix at the same time everyday. This helps you to understandnand feel how it changes throughout your cycle.

Now that you know the signs of when you are fertile and have ovulated, you can begin to learn the timing of your menstrual cycle. It is helpful to keep a chart every month recording all of these signs you are tracking. After keeping track for 3-6 months, you will have a deeper understanding of when you are fertile and not fertile to help you navigate when you should have intercourse depending on if you want to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. It is also important to note that sperm can survive in fertile cervical fluid for 5 days, whereas an egg can only survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation.

Have fun applying the Fertility Awareness Method into your lives and learning more about your beautifully functioning body!


Baby’s First Foods: A guide to solid food introduction

Introducing solid foods into your breastmilk or formula fed baby is always an exciting milestone, but often one where parents have a lot of questions to ensure their baby is as healthy as possible. This article will address common questions parents may have surrounding solid food introduction.

When should I start introducing solid foods?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of life. Therefore, most parents begin to introduce solid foods around 6-8 months of age. However, babies all grow and mature at different speeds, so it is more important to recognize the signs that your baby is ready for introducing solid foods.

These signs of readiness include:

  • Ability to sit on their own or with minimal support
  • Ability to hold their head up, lean forward, open mouth, and move head from side to side
  • Has an interest in foods that your family is eating or grabbing for solid foods
  • Presence of a tooth
  • Absence of tongue thrusting reflex (baby sticks out tongue when you touch their lips)
  • Ability to scoop objects into hands or pick them up with thumb and index finger

How do I introduce solid foods?

Begin by solid food introduction at a slow pace, around 1 food item every 3-5 days, to allow for time to notice if the baby has any reaction towards the food. If the mother is able to breastfeed, it is recommended that she breastfeed the baby for a short period of time before offering the baby their first solid food. You can also start by mixing solid foods into breastmilk or formula. Along with introducing solid foods, parents should begin to offer filtered water to their baby.

What are good foods to start with introducing?

It is best to start introducing solid foods that are local, organic, plant-based, and whole foods if possible. The foods you choose to start with should be mashed, pureed, or grated to help the baby’s digestive system assimilate the new foods.

Examples of foods to begin with:

  • Fruits: avocados, bananas, berries, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pears, melon, prunes
  • Steamed and pureed vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, beets, parsnips
  • Soft boiled egg yolks
  • Applesauce
  • Fats to use in purees: olive oil or hemp oil

Foods to Avoid:

  • Cow’s milk (until 12 months of age)
  • Honey (until 12 months of age)
  • Processed foods
  • Foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or ingredients that you cannot pronounce
  • Canned foods that contain BPA in lining
  • Non organic animal products or non organic foods on the dirty dozen list
  • Fruit juice

How do I know if my baby is reacting negatively to the foods they are eating?

Signs that your baby is having a reaction to a particular food include rashes, particularly those around mouth or anus, redness of face or cheeks, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting or increase in spitting up, fussiness/irritability, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, eczema, ear infections, and cradle cap. If a food reaction does occur, avoid that food for 6 weeks before reintroducing it into the baby’s diet once again. If the child has more severe symptoms, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the lips and face, call 911.

As you move past the solid food introduction phase, have fun with introducing a wide variety of foods with lots of diversity in flavor, color, and texture!


What You Aren’t Missing on a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

Many more people are choosing to seek out a whole foods, plant-based diet to support their overall health, increase their energy, decrease inflammation, and prevent chronic diseases. A whole foods, plant-based diet is eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains and excluding processed foods, meats, dairy, and eggs. Living in a culture that emphasizes meat and dairy as prime sources of calcium, protein, and iron, I often get the question of, “where do you get all the necessary nutrients you need on a whole foods plant-based diet?”. This article is meant to help you navigate how to ensure you are getting the necessary amount of protein, iron, and calcium you need on a whole foods plant-based diet because it is certainly achievable.


Protein plays an instrumental role in the structure and function of every single cell in our body as well as being a building block for making hormones and enzymes. If you are an adult, it is vital to eat 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day, with a slightly higher goal if you are pregnant, lactating, or an athlete. Eating a variety of beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters, seeds, amaranth, seitan, and tempeh will allow you to get all the necessary protein and essential amino acids you body needs to thrive. You could use an app like myfitnesspal to help determine how much protein you are getting in your diet now and then increase or decrease your protein intake to achieve the 0.8g/kg/day.


Dietary intake of iron is so essential because we use iron to transport oxygen throughout our body on our red blood cells. Plant-based sources of iron rich foods include sesame seeds, dark chocolate, black strap molasses, leafy green vegetables, fortified oatmeal or cereal, soybeans, white beans, lentils, tofu, spinach, dried peaches, prunes, or apricots, pumpkin/squash seeds, chia seeds, amaranth, and sorghum. Eating these iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, bell peppers, and cruciferous veggies will help increase the absorption of iron up to 5 times. Also, it is best to avoid high oxalate foods, drinking tea or coffee with your meal, and avoid high calcium containing foods as these inhibit the absorption of iron. According to the Institute of Medicine, the required amount of iron intake for adult women is 18mg/day and for adult men is 8mg/day.


Eating enough calcium in our diet is crucial for the health of our bones, along with getting enough physical activity and vitamin D to form strong bones. Since calcium is a mineral that resides in dirt, plants are a lovely source of calcium. In fact, cow’s milk only has calcium within it because cows eat plants that contain calcium! Some of our best whole food plant-based sources of calcium are collard greens, turnip greens, kale, rhubarb, tempeh, soy beans, bok choy, mustard greens, tahini, navy beans, squash, almond butter, almonds, broccoli, dates, sesame seeds, amaranth, nettle, and black eyed peas. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults consume 1000mg/day of calcium.


Staying Warm this Winter: Increasing Your Circulation Naturally

Brrrrr….It’s cold out there! With the coldness and darkness of the winter settling in, we tend to turn inward and allow our bodies to rest and restore in this slower pace of life. In the summer, our days are chock full of backyard gatherings, days at the beach, evening festivals, and lots of activities and movement. We tend to be constantly moving and grooving, enjoying the long, sunshiny days. In contrast, we like to spend our time in the winter reading by a cozy fire, making homecooked meals, sleeping longer, doing indoor craft projects, playing board games, and watching movies. All of these winter activities are a part of our bodies naturally slowing down to adapt to the changing in seasons. Not only that, but this slowing down supports our body in using its energy towards restoring and healing itself.  

With this slower pace of life, we want to make sure that our circulatory system isn’t slowing down as well. Not only does our circulatory system keep our body warm, but it carries with it oxygen and nutrients that need to travel to every single part of our bodies to keep us healthy. There are many fundamental ways we can support the optimal functioning of our circulatory system:

  1. Move your body every single day. This could be anything from yoga to stretching to snowshoeing to skiing to indoor rock climbing to dancing in your living room.
  2. Drink clean water. As a rule of thumb, you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Our bodies absorb water best when it is plentiful with minerals. If you have a purification system in your home, try adding a sprinkle of salt in each glass of water you drink to help your body absorb the water you drink.
  3. Take deep, invigorating breaths every morning upon rising or when you are feeling cold to increase your circulation bringing warmth into your body.
  4. Add cinnamon, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, rosemary, onion, and cayenne into your everyday cooking as these are all herbs that stimulate the movement of your circulatory system. You could also add these herbs into hot water to make a tea! Have you ever heard of fire cider? It is apple cider vinegar infused with circulatory stimulating herbs that you would take a spoonful of once per day. Try looking for recipes online to create your own! If you like the convenience of just picking up a bottle of apple cider vinegar versus making your own, one of my favorite local businesses, Soul Shine Healing, sells an invigorating fire cider!
  5. Sit in a sauna for at least 20 minutes everyday. The heat of a sauna will increase your circulation and help in the detoxification of your body. This one may be hard because a lot of individuals don’t have access to a sauna. Some places to find a sauna in your community may be your local gym, YMCA, spas, or use a friend’s. Or if you can’t take a sauna, enjoy a warm bath before bed to increase your circulation and help you sleep.
  6. Sleep at least 8 hours per night. Sleep has a significant impact on our cardiovascular health. It is crucial to get a good night’s sleep every single night!
  7. Dry skin brush your body before showering to stimulate the movement of your circulatory system and lymphatic system. Always brush the skin on your legs towards your groin and the skin on your arms towards your armpits as this is where most of your lymph nodes are located.
  8. Spend time in gratitude thanking your circulatory system for pumping blood, oxygen, nutrients, and life throughout your entire body.

I hope you stay warm, safe, healthy, happy, and gratitude-filled this winter season!