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
 

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.

Read More

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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This Little Light of Mine

curlygirl

I haven’t been writing much lately except for jotted ideas and feelings scribbled in my physical diary/notebook. Today I read an article I wrote with my Mom for Tallahassee Womens Magazine and this sparked my urge to write again. It’s something that just comes to me mellifluously. It’s because I write from my heart, and today I realized how truly happy that makes me feel. To share my truths with the world, gives my life purpose.

I remember impatiently telling my Mom that I wanted to blog what I had written before the issue would be published. This is because I just wanted to get something posted on my blog….I was impatient out of desperation. That tends to occur when my neurosis blocks the thoughts that flow from my higher self to my lower self, I get all worried and anxiety ridden (I wasn’t practicing yoga consistently that past couple weeks and it showed). It showed in my attitude, my posture and my speech.

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Twisty Time 

I want to take better care of my hair and learn more ways to style it naturally. What better way to learn than to record the process? Here’s my first hair tutorial video (maybe my last), but it was fun to create and I’m one step closer to mastering my mane. Yay for healthy hair and loving the journey! 

Link to video tutorial below! 

Three Strand Twists

Go Nuts: Three Solid Reasons why Cashews are Bomb for your Bod 

Let’s talk about snacks. (something near and dear to my heart)
Cashews are one of my favorite snacks because of how filling  and tasty they are and how easily they store in my car’s middle compartment (readily available to snack on while passing up stopping at Chick- fil-a during traffic).

-But you couldn’t you just snack on any nuts?-

This is true, but here are some reasons why I choose cashews over other nuts:

1. Lower in fat than other nuts (we all want good fats, but not too much right? but of course! )

2. Contain a larger percentage of monounsaturated fats which is beneficial for optimal heart functioning by lowering LDL cholesterol

3. Substantial source of essential minerals like copper, zinc and selenium (all necessary cofactors for important metabolic processes)

Meditation and Your Brain

“Extensive practice involving sustained attention can lead to changes in brain structure. Here, we report evidence of structural differences in the lower brainstem of participants engaged in the long-term practice of meditation. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we observed higher gray matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators compared with age-matched nonmeditators. Our findings show that long-term practitioners of meditation have structural differences in brainstem regions concerned with cardiorespiratory control. This could account for some of the cardiorespiratory parasympathetic effects and traits, as well as the cognitive, emotional, and immunoreactive impact reported in several studies of different meditation practices.” – NeuroReport

(Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem

Peter Vestergaard-Poulsena, Martijn van Beekc, Joshua Skewesa, Carsten R. Bjarkamb, Michael Stubberupd, Jes Bertelsend

and Andreas Roepstorff)

A little bit about the brain and mediation, skimming the surface.
I find this fascinating, yet not surprising at all.

There is a growing amount of research supporting that meditation can actually change the brain.

Change? What do you mean by that?

(I would write it all here, but that would take a while and I have some very necessary studying to do)

Below is a link to an interesting article from 1984 to start you off.

The Clinical Use of Mindfulness Meditation for the Self-Regulation of Chronic Pain

Practicing mindful meditation reduces stress on the entire body, effects brain wave patterns, effective in pain management  and even presents beneficial structural changes.

that’s super cool.

Infograph: Meditation and its Effects on Brainwaves
Infographic authored by Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality. To view the original post, Free Infographic: Meditation and its Effects on Brainwaves.
I love that I am taking my yoga teacher training in the midst of a Neuroscience grad program. I love what I’m learning and it is coming at what seems the perfect timing…24 years old.
 meditationbrainwaves
I graduate from both programs on the same weekend, also a couple weeks before my 25th birthday.
I guess my gift to myself this year is doing something to help my development the best that I can before the “window of opportunity “closes (You know that window between 12-25 that people say is crucial, like if you don’t mature by then you’re going to be a weirdo for the rest of your life…right?)
Totally not true, but I used to have that fear.
The fear that I would miss out on the opportunity to become my best self.
I realize now how silly that was.
I’ve moved past that and I truly think I’m at a point where I’m enjoying the journey.
Meditation is helping me focus on the present, and in that place you have the power to always be your best self.
“And if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” – Aaliyah
(totally applicable to my attempt at teaching Sun Salutation today lol)
Namaste,
Tavia Rahki

Fine Tuning 

 Thank you to the creator of this amazing infographic. 

Happy Tuesday!