I know that I must address my sleep issues, but what can I do in the meantime to get an extra boost during my workday?
If you are accruing a significant amount of sleep debt, there is not a lot of wiggle room for compensating without causing more issues later on. Having random nights of poor sleep can be handled without much spill over.
In the meantime, try to fit in a 20-minute power nap or just close your eyes while practicing some nasal breathing techniques.
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen which can help to balance your stress hormones. Matcha green tea is a good option since the L-theanine will balance out the caffeine surge so that you remain focused instead of jittery. Just do not make it a habit! And avoid any supplements after 2pm, especially caffeinated ones.
How can I increase my iron without eating meat since I am a vegan?
Meat products contain a form of iron that is more readily absorbed by the intestines, known as heme iron. Plant sources of iron are in a nonheme form which can be taken up as well but just not as easily. Some plant foods that contain iron include spinach, swiss chard, legumes, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, cashews, & blackstrap molasses. The first thing that I would consider for enhancing absorption of nonheme iron would be to add citrus to your dish. The vitamin C will improve the assimilation of the iron in the GI tract. Cooking your veggies also improves iron’s availability as some of the antinutrients have been neutralized. Along that line of thinking, I would expect that sprouting & fermentation would also improve iron absorption.
I get unusually tired after eating like I just indulged in Thanksgiving dinner. Is this normal for digestion?
You do want to be in a relaxed state while you digest but not overly tired like you have to take a nap. The parasympathetic nervous system ramps up for rest, recovery, & digestion so you do not want to go out and run sprints immediately after eating. Extreme fatigue after eating can be a sign of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is on a spectrum, so it is not like you one day are sensitive to the hormone & then the next your cells are not responding. As the glucose remains in circulation, the body will convert it to triglycerides or advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) which consume massive amounts of cellular energy, along with causing increased inflammation.
My wife tells me that my snoring keeps her up at night. Can this be affecting my quality of sleep since I never seem to wake up completely refreshed?
Snoring is an epidemic in our society. It often corresponds with sleep apnea, which can be mild or severe on the spectrum. Even if you are not experiencing lapses in breathing, you may not be oxygenating your tissues, especially your brain, when you continuously snore during sleep. The architecture of your oral cavity is less than it needs to be & you are likely resorting to mouth-breathing during your waking hours without even realizing it.
First, incorporate strict nasal breathing during your wakeful hours to help retrain your breathing pattern & improve your oral structure. Yes, you heard that right, your mouth will reconfigure over time with the right inputs & proper posture. Then, you can start to dabble with mouth-taping at night to influence nasal breathing. You want to use a light adhesive tape & leave enough space so that you can breathe through the mouth if need be. This is more about proprioception than physically obstructing the mouth.
I was sick about 4 months ago and have not felt like myself ever since. Could my lingering fatigue be related to that sickness or is something else going on?
Yes, you may be experiencing chronic effects from your initial infection & the immune system was not able to completely resolve it. You may be diverting energy resources elsewhere so it would be wise to get a checkup & some updated lab work to understand what is going on. I would imagine that there are some nutrients missing that are important to your metabolism & possible environmental toxicity as well. There is likely a combination of factors contributing so start by focusing on the basics like sleep hygiene, sun exposure, earthing, water intake, & mindfulness techniques. Also, go see your functional medicine doctor to investigate the underlying causes.
Why do I feel like a train hit me even after light exercise?
This scenario is typical of individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That is not to say that you have that condition, but it is more prevalent than you may think.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, stealth infections, hormonal imbalances, & poor vagal tone are often correlated with individuals experiencing chronic fatigue symptoms. Your body may not be clearing lactate efficiently due to lymph congestion or your body is pumping out something called substance P that increases pain perception.
You should feel invigorated after light exercise, so I agree that there is an issue here. You may be a candidate for Red/Near Infrared Light therapy which will stimulate your mitochondria. Magnesium, B vitamins, & a high quality CoQ10 supplement should help somewhat.
I fall asleep very easily every night but I keep waking up around the same time in the early morning and it is very difficult to fall back asleep. I notice that my mind is racing so is there anything that I can try to fall back asleep?
Looking at this from a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint, if you consistently wake up between 1-3am, then you may have a congested liver. 3-5am, then you may be having issues with your lungs. Many asthma attacks occur around this time of the night.
Your circadian rhythm may be slightly off & your cortisol is peaking a few hours earlier than it should. You would want to limit blue light exposure in the evening, have a nighttime routine, & make sure that you get some indirect light into your eyes first thing in the morning.
That being said, topical magnesium or CBD can help to calm down your nervous system to fall back asleep. L-theanine and GABA, taken together, can synergistically combat glutamate and beta brain waves which keep your brain overly active.
I feel out of breath after 3 flights of stairs. I am only 42 years old and not overweight, am I just really that out of shape?
At 42 years of age, you should be able to climb 3 flights of stairs with ease but if you do not exercise at all & you have been doing your finest Cookie Monster renditions, then you may just be extremely unfit. I would look at how you breathe as I would imagine that there is some level of mouth-breathing happening. Mouth-breathing & overbreathing typically go hand-in-hand which will limit your oxygen delivery, making you prone to quick exhaustion. I would start to work on strict, slow nasal breathing while incorporating strategic breath holds.
Somedays I feel amazing and others, I feel completely rundown. I eat a strict Paleo diet, do not drink alcohol and I sleep at least 7 hours most nights. My doctor told me that my blood work looks great. What else could be driving my fatigue on those certain days?
-Dehydration, electrolytes (may be subtle alterations on your CMP)
-Poor recovery from exercise
-nnEMF, mold, heavy metals exposure
-Testosterone insufficiency (male or female)
What can I do to naturally boost my energy without taking caffeine?
MCT oil is always a great option since these fats bypass the lymphatic system & get absorbed straight into the blood. MCT supplementation can provide quick energy, in place of carbohydrates, & raise your ketone levels making your brain very happy.
High-quality B complex because the B vitamins are important for energy production & utilization. Show some love to your mitochondria & they will love you back.
Breath of Fire: I discuss this exercise in my Free Strive to Thrive Program, as well as in a previous blog post on Harnessing the Breath for Enhanced Vitality (seedandsoilwellness.com).
Take a Cold Shower! Or how about an ice bath?
What are some ways that I can improve my sleep without taking melatonin or Ambien?
First, I have a free Sleep Hygiene Checklist when you sign up for my email list. This gives you many of the do’s & don’ts for enhancing your sleep quality. I also touch on it in my Free Strive to Thrive Program which you can find on the homepage of my website.
Decreasing the ambient temperature is one of the best strategies for improving deep sleep. Foam rolling or other self-myofascial release can switch on your parasympathetic nervous system. I am a big fan of writing down tomorrow’s tasks so that you free up some bandwidth in your brain. I like a chakra meditation before bed too.
Magnesium supplementation or Epsom salt baths are essential for sleep quality since almost everyone is deficient due to the depleted soil in our country.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self.