Get Your Best Rest

Get Your Best Rest

Sleep is essential to everyone’s health and wellbeing. The same way we have to eat, drink, and breathe to survive- we also have to sleep.

Not only is sleep a powerful stress reliever, but it also helps us have better control over our emotions and our behaviors throughout the day. It improves concentration, sharpens our decision-making skills and strengthens our immune system. The benefits are seemingly endless.

It’s recommended for most adults to get more than 7 hours a night, but this comes a lot easier to some people than it does to others. Sleep disorders affect up to 70 million Americans every year – with insomnia being the top diagnosis. Insomnia is formally diagnosed when someone’s lack of sleep is causing them enough distress to negatively affect major aspects of their life, like their work or relationships.

Before you diagnose yourself with a sleep disorder, though… try to relax.


The KEY to falling asleep is to cultivate a sense of relaxation.

We know, we know… That’s a lot easier said than done. That’s why we put together some tips to help. We’ll start with what you can do to create the right atmosphere for quality ZZZ’s.

First and foremost, you want to turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Even if you are using screens to read, the blue light from your phone or a tablet will stimulate your brain and keep you awake. If you’re serious about getting sleep, make sure to dim your lights and use the last 30 minutes of your day to relax your mind as well as your body.

Secondly, check the temperature. The ideal bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This slightly varies from person to person but find what works for you and set the thermostat accordingly.

Next, let’s talk about noise. Depending on where you live (or who you live with) it might be impossible to have a silent room throughout the night. It can help to add a sound machine or fan, but if you’re someone with a busy mind then you might find it more difficult to drift off when it is too quiet. If this is the case, try playing soothing music or audiobooks. Audible is a great source for audiobooks, and it has a feature that allows you to set a sleep timer. If you decide to go that route, make sure you are listening to something that helps you relax and not something that will stimulate your mind. Think of it as having someone read you a bedtime story, not an excuse to get more work done while drifting off into dreamland.

The last two suggestions go hand-in-hand. Keep your bedroom sanitary and fill it with a soothing fragrance. A lot of people prefer essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus and heliotropin. Find what works for you. It is also proven that the scent of your partner could improve your quality of sleep.

(Kind of cute, right?)

There are also things that you can do throughout the day
that will prepare you for a better night’s sleep.

The same way that you dim the lights at night, you should increase your light exposure during the day. For people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure has been proven to improve both sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took for them to fall asleep by 83%! If you are unable to get enough sunlight throughout the day, you can use an artificial light that simulates sunlight.

It’s also important to avoid caffeine late in the day. According to one study, having caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime had significant effects on sleep disturbances. Even if you can fall asleep after drinking an afternoon coffee or energy drink, it will still worsen the quality of your sleep. We know the midday crash can be rough, but that is a symptom of not being well-rested. To eliminate that and to feel more energized throughout the day, it is imperative that you have good sleep hygiene. If you are a coffee drinker, try switching to decaf after lunch and remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Exercising regularly will also help improve your sleep. There are some stipulations, though. Exercising in the morning will help you wind down at the end of the day, but high-intensity exercises in the evening will give you more energy at the end of the day, keeping you awake for longer. If your schedule doesn’t allow for you to exercise in the morning, then you can do low-intensity workouts at night. You should still give yourself a few hours in between the exercise and your bedtime so that your body can wind down.

Creating healthier sleep patterns will help your body and your mind recharge, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert. If you have exhausted all these efforts and are still dealing with sleep troubles – we suggest speaking to your doctor.

Sleep should not be a luxury. It is a necessity! Take care of yourself so that you’re able to show up and be present with the people around you. You deserve it.

Feel-Good Ways to Stay Active

Feel-Good Ways to Stay Active

Staying active doesn’t have to be something you dread. In fact, in order to incorporate physical activity into your daily life, it should be something you look forward to. If this is something you want to do but aren’t sure where to start—this blog is for you.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite feel-good ways to keep our bodies in motion.

1. Walking
This is one of the most basic forms of movement, and it is one of our favorites! Walking is known to ease joint pain, boost immune function, improve your mood, strengthen your heart, burn calories and help you think more creatively. It’s also proven that walking can increase your life expectancy.

Now that it is Spring, it is the perfect time to go to a local park, walk in your neighborhood, or even explore new neighborhoods around your city or town. If the weather isn’t ideal you can also go to local malls or rec centers to get your steps in. One of our coaches here at ZOE Wellness, Luis, recommends to start walking with the goal to hit 5k steps (~2.5 miles) per day and to slowly work your way up to 10k (~5 miles).

Walking is fun to do with friends and family, too! If you don’t have anyone nearby to walk with, you could use the time to call someone and catch up, or just take this time to yourself to pray, meditate, or clear your mind.

2. Gardening
The benefits of gardening are plentiful. Not only do you get exposure to Vitamin D (don’t forget your sunscreen!), but gardening is also known to fight stress more-so than most hobbies. It decreases your risks for dementia and can have you doing aerobic exercises without even realizing it. If you don’t have a place to garden at home, check to see if there are any local community gardens near you. This is a great way to socialize with other people and simultaneously benefit a local neighborhood.

(Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll feel when your flowers bloom, or your crops are ready for harvest. You’ll be proud of yourself.)

3. Dancing
Dancing is your body’s way of expressing itself. We aren’t suggesting that you audition for the next season of America’s Got Talent, but we are suggesting you put your headphones on or turn your speakers up and let yourself have some fun. Not only will this put you in a better mood, but it will help you get in touch with your body.

            According to Richard Powers, a professor at Stanford, dancing is also known to increase your intelligence. “Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.” (For more information on that topic, click here to read the full article.)

4. Hiking

There are many different intensity levels of hiking, and we recommend getting information on the trails you embark on before you get started. There are apps, like “AllTrails” that you can use to find nature trails near you, and you can filter them by difficulty level. You can also see other people’s comments and photos of the trails which will help you decide which trail is best for you. Don’t forget to bring water to stay hydrated!

5. Stretching
If you are someone who enjoys watching TV Series or movies, this one’s for you. Next time you pull out your remote, instead of sitting on the couch— go for the floor. Stretching is a great way to get back in touch with our bodies. Start with reaching towards your toes, and practice moving in a way that feels good to you.

TIP: To increase flexibility, focus on your breath. Every time you exhale, your body will relax deeper into your stretch. You can challenge yourself by doing a stretch like reaching for your toes and reaching as far as you can during an exhale. Hold that position through your next inhale and see how much further you can reach on your second exhale. You might surprise yourself!

6. Go on a Treasure Hunt (Geocaching)
This might sound silly, but here us out.

Geocaching is an outdoor activity that is happening all the time, all over the world. People use GPS to set up containers called “Geocaches” at specific locations that are marked by coordinates. Try searching “geocaching near me” in your search bar and see what you can find! It’s like an easter egg hunt, but for all ages, and happens all year long.

This is a very similar concept to Pokemon Go, except instead of finding treasure – you are catching cartoons in an augmented reality. This is an app you can download and is a fun activity to do with your friends, or your kids!

7. Get a dog
Dogs are a lot of responsibility. Please only explore this option if you can give time, energy and money into your K9 companion. If you do have the resources though, having a dog will have you out and about a lot more than you would be otherwise. Rain or shine, your dog will need to be taken out a handful of times a day. Dogs make excellent exercise companions, just make sure you do your research on the type of dog you get and what types of care it requires.

Responsibility? Yes.

Rewarding? Also, yes.

If you do not have the resources to adopt a new furry family member— you can always watch someone else’s! There are dog-walking apps, such as Wag! that connect dog owners to dog walkers. Not only will this get you outside and moving, but you could be earning extra money and a four-legged friend at the same time.

8. Swimming
Getting into water is a great way to move your body. It is easier on joints than most exercises and can be a lot of fun. You could go as far as to look up water aerobics classes in your community, or just take a dip in the deep end for small periods of time. Swimming laps is also a great way to get your heart rate up for cardio. If you’re lucky enough to live near an ocean, spend some time in the water! (You know what they say… salt water cures everything— sweat, tears, or the ocean.)

Remember: exercise should be fun! It feels good to take care of yourself. You deserve it.


Movement and Sleep

The Benefits of Moving and a Good Night’s Sleep

Movement and sleep are two very opposite, but equally important, aspects of wellness. They affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally, so it’s crucial to make sure you have the right balance of both in your life.

Our bodies are naturally designed to move, so if we aren’t engaging in some type of movement each day, then we’re not allowing our body to thrive the way it was meant to.  Movement can help increase strength, flexibility, and stamina, help boost your immune system, help fight many chronic diseases, improve sleep, and even release hormones that will help you feel better emotionally.

The great thing about adding movement to your day is that it doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours in the gym – however if that’s how you choose to get your body moving, that’s great too. Movement can be as simple as a 10-minute walk during a break at work, doing yoga or gentle stretching, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, swimming, or biking. Movement shouldn’t be stressful; in fact, it should be the opposite. Choose a physical activity that you find joy in and get moving.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is sleep. Sleep plays a significant role in our health. Getting enough quality sleep every night can help strengthen your memory, keep your metabolism active, lift your mood, improve your cardiovascular health, and help your immune system fight disease.  Sleep requirements can vary from person to person, but, as a general rule, adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get a good night’s rest. First, stick to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. Create a relaxing and comfortable sleep environment, free from unwanted noise, light, and allergens. And finally, make sure your body is prepped for bed: avoid caffeine, heavy meals, and spicy foods near bedtime, and develop a relaxation routine. You should also avoid taking your electronic devices to bed with you.

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The Importance of Hydrating

The Importance of Hydrating

A common mistake many people make when tackling their daily fluid intake is grabbing an ice-cold soda or energy-boosting drink instead of water, but as it turns out, this can be counterproductive and lead to dehydration, along with other health risks.

Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate and replace what’s used by drinking pure water and eating foods that contain water.

Did you know the human brain is 80% water? That’s more than any other organ in the body. Even slight dehydration can result in an immediate cut down of the brain’s energy supply, which leads to fatigue, lethargy, depression, and stress. When we don’t keep our bodies hydrated, we run the risk of muscle cramps, depression, constipation, hypertension, uremia, gallstones, and weak joints.

The benefits of drinking water are endless. Water promotes cardiovascular health, keeps your body cool, helps your muscles and joints work better, and helps to cleanse your body inside and out. Not to mention, water keeps your skin supple, clear, and smooth, helps prevent dry mouth, and keeps your lips and throat moist. To keep yourself hydrated, use the “8 glasses by 8 pm” rule as a general goal every day.

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Getting your daily D.O.S.E.

Dopamine: The Reward Chemical

Handles motivation, learning and pleasure

Oxytocin: The Love Hormone

Creates feelings of love, trust and bonding

Serotonin: The Mood Stabilizer

Balances mood, self esteem, importance and happiness

Endorphins: The Pain Killer

Relieves pain and stress


These neurotransmitters are known as the brain’s Happy Chemicals. They each play an individual and equally important role in our lives. And the good news is, you can release them naturally with ease. They’re natural chemicals, with natural sources! So it is important to learn the healthiest ways to release them. It’s easier once you learn how your mind works.

Dopamine: There’s no feeling of satisfaction quite like a job well done, when you’ve seen your hard work pay off! Often referred to as the Reward Chemical, Dopamine is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation! It’s released in response to doing something good our mindy/body deems as good or pleasurable. After a release, your brain takes note of every environment cue: where, when, why, hoe and what caused you to feel this pleasure? We’re filled with motivation, driving us to keep going and do it again!

Healthy levels of Dopamine contribute to →

  • Motivation
  • Focus / concentration
  • Learning
  • Appetite
  • Forming habits
  • Pleasure and happiness
  • Altertness
  • Coordination and movement
  • Interests, curiosity and desire

Low Dopamine could be the reason for your bad mood! You may also experience: 

  • Sadness or apathy
  • Poor memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Exhaustion and low energy
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Loss of interest in passions
  • Less motivation and enthusiasm
  • Easy weight gain 

Oxytocin: You know that warm feeling of comfort you get when you make a new friend, play with your puppy or kiss your partner for the first time? That’s Oxytocin: The Love Drug or Cuddle Chemical! This neurotransmitter has learned its many names for its release when we form bonds with our family, friends, romantic partners or even pets! Similar to all neurotransmitters, this chemical plays several roles in our lives: physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and romantically. Oxytocin is necessary! 

Oxytocin plays a physical role with: 

  • Childbirth
  • Facial recognition 
  • Triggering protective instincts
  • Breastfeeding 
  • Boosting arousal 
  • Reducing drug cravings
  • Appetite 
  • Sleep 

Oxytocin also helps to: 

  • Strengthen friend groups
  • Solidify relationships
  • Make friends
  • Create emotional memories
  • Improve social skills
  • Foster generosity
  • Generate trust
  • Feel extroverted

Serotonin: It’s time to meet the neurotransmitter most sensitive to diet. The one responsible for your moods, well being, self esteem and happiness. Although its functions are carried out within the brain, 90% of the body’s serotonin supply is located within the gut! This Happy Chemical is converted from an amino acid known as Tryptophan, which our body cannot produce on its own. It comes from foods such as dairy, chickpeas and turkey. So of course… proper diet is the best way to ensure that you have an appropriate intake of Trytophan!  

Serotonin, the Mood Stabilizer, helps your body to: 

  • Heal wounds
  • Reduce depression
  • Manage anxiety 
  • Promote sleep
  • Balance libido 
  • Control appetite
  • Support learning 
  • Regulate emotions 

When absent, low serotonin results in:  

  • Low self esteem
  • Social withdrawal
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep issues and fatigue 
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and digestive issues 
  • Brain fog and poor memory

Some causes of serotonin deficiencies:  

  • Lack of sunlight exposure 
  • Prolonged drug / medication use
  • Chronic stress
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Age related health 
  • Poor diet**

Endorphin: Think of that amazing, euphoric feeling you get after finishing an intense workout. The Runner’s High is the body’s release of endorphins. This is your body’s natural chemical response to pain and stress. It’s also helpful in alleviating anxiety and depression. There are plenty of natural, healthy and easily accessible sources for endorphins that you can find in your everyday life!  

Alternatively, the lack of endorphins result in: 

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Pleasure food cravings
  • High emotional sensitivity
  • Mood swings
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic headaches
  • Low pain tolerance
  • Impulsive behavior 

Some causes of endorphin deficiencies: 

  • Imbalance gut health
  • Constant stress
  • Poor sleeping schedule
  • Trauma
  • Overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol
  • Chronic stress and fatigue