Sleepless in Tallahassee 

(I am so happy to have my article published in the Healthy Living Section of Tallahassee Woman Magazine’s August/September 2017 issue. I love writing and sharing ways to live healthfully. I had a great time brainstorming and researching. The best part was watching Sleepless in Seattle to prepare for the theme!  The topic covers the importance of sleep for a healthy life and tips to get the restful nights you deserve.)

“Sleepless in Tallahassee”

Second to love, sleep is the closest thing we have to magic. 

Today, we face a sleep deprivation epidemic in which incidences of dozing off at work or behind the wheel happen all too often. Our modern world dances to the beat of it’s own drum, an unhealthy fast-paced society whose sleeping hours are dictated by the flip of a light switch instead of the absence of sunlight. While we can’t stop evolution, we can take hold of our lives as individuals. Developing healthy sleep patterns cultivates synchronicity, attuning us to the circadian clock, a biological mechanism that guides the lives of not only humans, but also plants and animals.

 According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need about 8 hours of sleep every night, but many get less than seven on a regular basis. Western culture glorifies self-sacrifice as a success strategy, but the truth of the matter is that ignoring biological limits has detrimental effects on our health and quality of life. These effects include weakened immunity, brain-fog, mood swings, weight gain, low libido, and higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Ongoing sleep deficiency contributes to chronic stress, which may even cause heritable gene mutations and degenerative disease.

 

So what exactly makes sleep so magical?

Well, the fuel of life known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the biochemical energy source for all living things, is restored to a healthy balance in the brain during our deepest sleep. ATP transports the energy necessary for all cellular metabolic activities. During sleep, our glymphatic system (special clearing pathway of the central nervous system) rids the brain and spinal cord of neurotoxic waste products. This includes beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that clumps together forming the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer patients. 

Adequate sleep also supports healthy hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin, our satiety and hunger hormones. Our body’s entire defense system depends on getting quality sleep. A good night’s rest is a first priority in achieving homeostatic wellness.

 

Let’s explore ways to restore balance and promote restfulness:

 Diet: Stay hydrated and make healthful food choices. Think positively about food, chew slowly and breathe through your nose. Avoid caffeine in the evening and abstain from food within three hours before bed. This gives the body time to digest earlier meals and prepare for the work that must done while you sleep.

Activity: Exercising in the morning helps you sleep better at night and stick to a routine. If you have time to nap, take it! Practice yoga nidra (yogic sleep) using a guided meditation. When setting your alarm, use a sleep calculator. Sleepyti.me mobile app tells you when to go to sleep or when to set your alarm so that your sleep cycles are not harshly interrupted.

 Mentality: Start and end your day with healthy inner-dialogue sprinkled with positive affirmations. Focus on the present moment to dissipate anxious mind chatter. Do not obsessively start replaying your interactions throughout the day or try to analyze every little detail of tomorrow or go on a guilt trip about what didn’t get done. This type of thinking stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, prompting the body to prepare for wakeful functions instead of restful sleep.

 Environment: Choose surroundings that cater to your needs, focusing on your senses.

  • What do you hear? Listening to binaural beats can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • What do you smell? Aromatherapy has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Diffuse essential oils like lavender and bergamot to reduce stress and relax the body.
  • What do you see? Turn out all the lights. The light from phones, televisions and laptops signal your brain chemistry for wakefulness, thus suppressing the release of melatonin (the primary sleep regulating hormone).
  • What do you feel? Have the attitude of gratitude. Before bed, think of all that you are thankful for while finding the coziest spot in your bed. Check in with your body. Good sleeping posture means optimal spinal alignment. Try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees. If you’re a side sleeper, place a thin pillow between your knees.

 

You may not get in the swing of things right away, but healthful living is a product of a million little tiny things, when you add them all up, it just feels right. Start one night at a time. In the words of Sam Baldwin, “I’m going get out of bed every morning…breath in and out all day long. Then after a while I won’t have to remind myself…”.

Tavia Rahki Smith 
Link to online magazine below 

 https://issuu.com/tallahasseewoman/docs/aug-sept17digital/26
 

GF Blueberry Scones w/Lemon Drizzle

This recipe is simple, super scrumptious and allergy friendly/adaptable. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. You can make this recipe vegan by using an egg replacement (more power to ya)!

Enjoy…share…and let me know if you have any feedback!

I try not to overdo it, but sweets are my weakness and I love baking! I fell in love with baking when I was in my first couple of gluten-free years around 2014, also not too long after starting this blog. I would find bliss in every step, especially the photos and the anticipation of tasty results. Nowadays I don’t have as much leisure and I’m lucky if I can get one recipe post done a month, but I try because it’s a hobby and sharing that brings me joy. Follow your bliss right? 🙂

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Ethereal Equator 


It’s officially spring time! March 20th marks the Vernal or Spring Equinox (equal nights). The sun is crossing directly over the Earth’s equator, making day and night of equal duration. 


So many things are blossoming and coming anew, both in nature and in our attempts to nurture ourselves and others. Animals are coming out of hibernation and farmers will be planting fresh crops. We are getting ready for spring cleaning and making hopeful commitments towards healthful habits like rising early,finding routines, and planting seeds of positivity through new goals and affirmations. This is a great time to be open minded, yet equally grounded in dedication to our goals.

Within every ending is a seed of new beginning. 
 For centuries humans have regarded this as a special time to celebrate the triumph of light! (Sun worship is a foundational part of the history behind the rituals practiced in many cultures today). Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the equinox. (Fun fact: The origins of Easter date far before Christianity and the rabbit and the egg are symbols of sex and fertility).

I won’t be coloring eggs or gifting chocolate bunnies, but I do plan to meditate, reflect and embrace the end of a transformative experience. Today I start my journey back home after spending two months away, very far from everything I know (in rural parts of Africa and India). I’ve gained new insights and perspectives on life and a stronger sense of self. I’m ready to shed light on that and celebrate my personal triumph in letting go of dark baggage I’ve been dragging along for some time. I thank God for every second of life and I am eager to continue blossoming and learning, sharing knowledge and spreading love and light. Here’s to new beginnings and to finding balance. 

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Some days I wonder where the time went, other days I feel like I have so much ahead of me. Read More

Exploring Gluten Related Disorders and the Gut-Brain Axis

I myself, am gluten intolerant, which means that I present with some of the signs and symptoms, but do not test positive for the specific markers of the disease. Finding this information out and taking it seriously changed my life. I was sick for years, overweight, tired and swollen. I spent so much time seeing specialists that all told me I was fine. I wasn’t fine and even now if I get exposed to gluten I have pretty severe swelling in my feet (especially on my right side), along with abdominal distention and fatigue. I’m not complaining, just sharing my story! My health issues have been such a blessing in disguise because of how much I have learned and the empowerment I feel by taking charge of my health and my life. I love Science and research and I had a lot of fun making this infographic because I find joy in creating content that can help other people along their health journey.

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Lemon Libation

I titled this post ‘Lemon Libation’ because warm lemon water has become a holy grail staple of the health conscious movement. “It’s good for you” they say.

While this holds true in my personal experience, I’m not a big fan of blanket statements, especially about our diets. We are all so diverse!

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Vapid Rapids


I was feeling feels this morning thinking about beauty, societal conditioning and the release of endorphins that is associated with feeling beautiful. There are so many variables associated, both internal and external. (This was all after posting a photo of myself on Instagram.) I have a tendency to delete the photos I post because I don’t want to be vain. I teeter totter on a tight rope of shoulds shouldn’t in regards to anything focusing on appearance.  I have a strong appreciation for authenticity, individuality and intelligence. Focusing on the way I look was always more of a distraction than anything else.

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Lavender Lane

I’ve spent 40 days in Lakhimpur ( a small part of Northern India) teaching Yoga and English. I’m now back in Burkina Faso-Africa, getting rest before returning to volunteer at an orphanage I was serving at in January at the start of my trip.

I’ve been reflecting on the smaller details of this journey and felt compelled to share my experience with the dainty shade of purple known as lavender.

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Venting

1. Insulting men in celebration of women’s day is not congruent with the definition of equality. 

2. Common sense is important and so is math. 
3. Social media bandwagoning can be a first class ticket to an emotionally driven black hole of ignorance.

4. People change their minds as they develop and learn. Attacking that aspect of maturation is attacking growth and progression. 

5. Hurting people hurt people. These same people may be more susceptible to the convoluted manipulative rhetoric of entertainment news. 

6. I wish everyone would read several sources of opposing views before pressing the share button. Collectively, it would make finding the truth much more efficient.

7. There are grey areas, but that doesn’t mean there are not moral values. There is intrinsic good and evil. Life is about figuring out what that even means.

–  Tavia Rahki