Tag: sleep

Healthy Swellness: Making sleep a priority

Endy - Product Shot

Although I’ve gone through periods of insomnia, for the most part, I”m a pretty good sleeper. I fall asleep quickly, and generally stay asleep through the night. My main issue is that I don’t make sleep a priority. I’m naturally a night owl and spoke to sleep experts a couple of years ago about this, and one doctor noted that my main problem is just not valuing sleep enough.

And he is right about that. I always see more things to get done on my to-do list, or there’s another TV show I want to watch, or maybe there’s something super, super important someone posted on Instagram that I must see ASAP (PSA: there never is). And yet I continue to struggle with making sleep a priority, and that’s even knowing that my body needs that downtime to recuperate. Knowing that it’d help with my running. And knowing it’d help me feel refreshed for the day instead of like I need an IV of coffee to get me feeling human.

And so, this year I’m looking to make sleep more of a priority. Self care is so important and I need to make that my focus. My goal is to get a good eight-hours of sleep a night, on a regular schedule. This will not be an easy task; I’ve been struggling with this ever since writing that article about being a night owl.

But I’m going to approach it with a plan now. I’m going to set an alarm to remind me to start winding my night down with taking Billie Jean for her evening walk, doing my nighttime beauty routine, etc. And I’m going to make my bedroom a sleeping haven with a new mattress and pillows. My current mattress is probably about a decade old and there’s definitely at least one spring out of place.

To replace it, I’m welcoming an Endy mattress and pillows into my home. Why Endy? To start, I like that there’s a 100-day trial period; I’ve always found it hard to judge from a quick lie-down in a store. This Canadian company (another selling point!) also features three layers of foam, which I hear are medium firm (I tend to prefer a decent level of firmness). Another standout feature? I run really warm; I’m not a furnace like I used to be (that was thanks to my overactive thyroid) but still warmer than most folks.So Endy’s top layer, infused with cooling gel, is designed to release body heat. Plus, its foam is non-temperature-sensitive—so while other foam mattresses sink in the summer and feel like a rock in the winter, Endy retains the same firmness year-round.

Stay tuned for updates on how it goes with my new soon-to-arrive Endy and whether I become the sleeping beauty I aim to become.

The Sleep Shirt_BlueOx_ShortSleepShirt_HangerFrontOpen

Also, this probably calls for some cute new pyjamas, too, don’t you think? I’ve been coveting the Sleep Shirt for more than a  year now…

Disclosure: I am an Endy partner and am receiving Endy products for review.

Leave a Comment January 22, 2018

Healthy Swellness: Philips Wake-up Light

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February’s come to a close and I’d say so long to the  February blues, but the thing is, I didn’t experience them this year.

Part of the reason is the mild winter we have been having here in Toronto (I’m grateful every day that we haven’t been in a deep freeze for weeks and weeks). And yet, we still have many gray skies, and the daylight hours are still limited. The difference in my life this February? Using the Philips Wake-up Light.

To get you  up to speed, if you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware I have some pretty poor sleeping habits. And towards the end of last year, I was suffering from insomnia. Then during the Christmas holidays, I simply could not fall asleep until 5 or 6 a.m. And this meant I’d sleep until noon at the earliest. This wasn’t ideal but I was able to let it slide during the holidays, but once we hit the new year, and I attempted to get up at a more reasonable hour, so that I could email and hold phone calls with people who work regular office hours, well, I was an exhausted mess. Either I’d get up late and miss time I could be working, or on the days I managed to force myself up in the morning, by 1:30 p.m., with my eyelids heavy, I’d nap for several hours.

And when Philips asked me to try out their Philips Vitalight products, I was desperate and ready to try anything. I’d heard of the Wake-up Light before, but I’ll be frank, I thought it sounded like it made sense in theory but I was doubtful and how much better it’d make my wake up routine and how much more refreshed I’d feel. How it works and what it says it’ll do: The light simulates sunlight and it increases in brightness over a period of 30 minutes (so if you set your alarm for 7 a.m., starting at 6:30 a.m., the lamp starts to glow until reaching its maximum brightness at 7 a.m., at which time an alarm goes off — you can choose between two natural sounds or FM radio). The idea is that it’s meant to be a more natural way to wake up (with the sunrise) and as a result, you wake up feeling more refreshed and so rather than dragging yourself out of bed, you can get up more easily.

Sure sounds nice, but c’mon really? I was open to trying it (again, I was feeling so horrible from my wacky sleep pattern) but how could a fancy light and the sound of nature make that much a difference? I’d be in the same tired and weary position by the end of the month.


Using the Philips Wake-up Light in February has managed to help me shift my sleep schedule to a more reasonable time (I was also more diligent about forcing myself to get into bed earlier); I now go to bed anywhere from midnight to 2 a.m. most nights and get up before 10 a.m. More surprising to me, though, as I have had to shift my sleep patterns in the past, is how much  more pleasant my wake-up routine is. When I’m still in a sleepy phase, I can sense the “sunshine” getting stronger, even though I haven’t opened my eyes yet. Then comes the birds chirping (that’s my preferred alarm choice) and it’s such a welcome sound — now that I  live in a downtown condo, that’s a sound I hear rarely (and it’s one that I miss from my house where I had a huge front yard tree and I’d always hear birds chirping). I usually hit snooze once or twice, but that’s it; then I get up. In the last month, I’ve had the occasional night where I’ve set the alarm clock on my cell phone  instead, and I get jolted awake, disoriented and hating the incessant beeping of the alarm.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but I feel like this Wake-up Light has changed how I wake up and face each day, turning it from a dreaded groggy, okay cranky, ordeal, to a calm and agreeable routine.

(Looking for the Wake-up Light for yourself? It’s available at London Drugs and amazon.ca and retails for $99.99)

The Philips Wake-up Light isn’t the only Vitalight product I tested out in February. Stay tuned for my review of the goLITE BLU, which is designed to help you feel more energized.


P.S. I’m not the only one who’s enjoyed the Wake-up Light. This one’s basking in it like it’s actually sunlight!




Leave a Comment March 1, 2016

Healthy Swellness: Tart cherries will help you sleep better

Choose Cherries_frozen cherries

As you may know (I wrote about my poor sleeping habits in an issue of Glow a few months ago), I’m terrible when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. And I’m sad to report that I haven’t yet managed to change my ways for the better since writing that article:

  • I simply am incapable it seems of setting a regular time to go to bed and wake up — once or twice a week, I have to get up around 7 a.m. for a workout; and I just can’t make that my daily wake-up time because that would call for being in bed by about 11:30 or midnight (that’s very early for me — we’re talking about years of going to bed after 1 a.m.).
  • One (minor) improvement (but not really) — I do try to get more actual sleep hours (which, yes, means sleeping later and starting my work day later).

Coincidentally, right after I finished my sleep article for Glow, I got to go to New York to learn from the Cherry Marketing Institute how tart cherries can help me sleep better. I had a consultation with Dr. Carol Ash, Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health in New Jersey who (from a questionnaire) established that my sleep quality is about 43 percent. Yikes.

Looking to improve your sleep habits? Here are some tips from Dr. Ash:

  • “It’s important to really value sleep.” (This one applies to you if you like me will surf the net, watch TV or stay up until all hours working). To do this, I’m trying to remind myself of all the repercussions of my lack of sleep is potentially causing (weight gain, increased risk of cardiac disease and diabetes, lack of alertness, irritability) (and for me and the rest of you runners — rest is a key component of your training!).
  • “Keep notecards on your bedside table.” For those nights your mind is racing with thoughts and you can’t get to sleep, Dr. Ash says it’s helpful to write down those thoughts on the notecards to help you get to sleep.
  • “Get rid of screens in the bedroom, such as TVs, and download F. Lux for your iPad or iPhone.” The light from your television or your iPad is really alerting. If you can’t bear to keep them out of the bedroom (that’s me with my iPad!) then Dr. Ash suggested downloading F. Lux (it’s free), which makes the colour of the display adapt to the time of day (so it’s less bright and alerting at night).
  • “Consistency is key when it comes to your sleep schedule.” Try to get to bed and rise at the same time regularly. For my haphazard schedule, with an approximate 90 minute difference on days I have early meetings or phone calls compared to the days I don’t have anything on my schedule, Dr. Ash asked if I could aim to get that down to about a 30-minute difference, to lessen the effects.
  • “To ensure a.m. alertness ,get exposure to am bright light.” Natural light will have the greatest impact, says Dr. Ash, adding that there are commercial light boxes that can substitute when you find you need to wake up in the dark.  “Thirty minutes of bright light exposure is enough.”
  • “Use melatonin to reset your internal clock when you do have to interrupt your schedule for travel, meetings, and other responsibilities.” Tart cherries are high in melatonin.  Tart cherry juice one or two hours before your preferred bedtime can be helpful to reset your internal clock, says Dr. Ash.

Choose Cherries_tart cherry juice

(Photos courtesy of choosecherries.com)



Leave a Comment January 9, 2014

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