Breathe yourself to sleep

Use this breathing technique as a way to center yourself before sleep, or anytime you’re under stress.

Lie in bed on your back, feet spread about a foot apart, toes falling to the outside, and arms falling to your sides about 4-5 inches from your body (if you do yoga, it’s the “corpse pose”).

Take a deep breath in, counting to five. Using the same pace, exhale, counting to ten. The goal is to exhale for twice as long as you inhale, but do that within your comfort zone.

Focus only on your breathing and releasing tension wherever you feel it in your body. It’s a great way to relax.


Use your head with your bed

Your bed makes a big difference in how you sleep. Are you getting the most from your bed?

  • Is your bed older than 15 years? You probably need a new one.
  • Do you regularly flip and spin your (traditional) mattress? It lasts longer if you do. Flip your mattress (top to bottom) in odd months and spin it (head to toe) in even months for even wear.
  • Is it the right firmness/softness for you? It’s a matter of taste here, but get the one that helps you sleep.
  • Are your sheets made from natural fibers? Synthetics are scratchier, as well as less breathable. 100% cotton is affordable.
  • Are your sheets a texture you like? Cotton, cotton knit, flannel, satin – you have choices. You can even change them based on the season (or celebration).
  • Do you have the right blankets? Change them with the season – lightweight cotton in the summer, wool or even a comforter in the winter.
  • Are your pillows giving you the right support? Get a pillow to match your sleep habits – back, side, and stomach sleepers have different requirements.


Get your zzzz’s

If someone told you that you could look younger, feel better, boost your energy level, and keep yourself healthy, wouldn’t you want to know how to do that? It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it’s as easy as getting a good night’s sleep.

~ Marilu Henner, Total Health Makeover , page 148


What is a good night’s sleep? It’s probably between 6-9 hours long (and that depends on your body, so be honest when you think about it). It’s uninterrupted – by sound, light, temperature, and needing to go to the bathroom. It starts as early before midnight as you can manage.

That last one may sound odd, but it’s true – the more hours of sleep you get before midnight, the more rested and refreshed you’ll feel from your sleep. If you can get to bed by 10 PM, that’s great.

Experiment with your sleep time and find what works best for you.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~


Take control of your life

We’ve all had those days when other people want to control us. We come home from work or school, or we walk out of a meeting or away from a partner, feeling less than ourselves.

When we’re feeling pulled in too many directions, or dragged against our will, there are things we can do… besides shout “you’re not the boss of me!” (You know you’ve wanted to do that…)

We can stick to the routine that makes us feel the healthiest – that makes us feel empowered.

  • Eat foods that make your body stronger – vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and lean proteins.
  • Exercise every day – get your heart muscle in shape and get fresh air into your lungs.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep.
  • Skip the chemicals, caffeine, and alcohol. Stay hydrated with water..

Your mind and your body will be able to deal with life’s difficult situations when you take care of yourself. It’s the best way to take control of your life.

Now get up and get moving – this song is all about empowerment.


~*~ ~*~ ~*~


Time to relax

What happens when the holiday is nearly upon us?

We tend to want to stress out; to stay up late and get everything checked off the list; to make everything “Martha” perfect.

If it’s getting too stressful, or becoming too much, or you aren’t getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night – newsflash! – you’re doing too much.

Get your beauty rest. You’ll handle the whole holiday weekend better if you’re well rested.

Either delegate some of the remaining preparations, or decide you don’t need to do everything.

  • Bake that next batch of cookies in a couple of days. Really – they can wait – either don’t mix up the dough, or wrap what you have in plastic wrap and a zipper bag, and freeze it.
  • Skip the last minute decorating. It’s already pretty. Put the boxes away and call it done.
  • Before you make one more run to the grocery store, check all your recipes, then check your pantry and fridge. Make sure it is the last trip you need to make.
  • Delegate the remaining gift wrapping. It doesn’t have to meet “Martha” standards to be wrapped. Most kids over 10 can do a fine job.
  • Delegate food preparations – chopping vegetables, mixing ingredients, making salad, preparing a relish tray – hand these tasks off to guests who enjoy feeling useful.


Sleep well for good health

Sleep is the one step in my program that is absolutely essential to helping every other step work effectively.

~ Marilu Henner, Total Health Makeover


Marilu calls sleep the fountain of youth. In the Total Health Makeover she says, “if someone told you that you could look younger, feel better, boost your energy level, and keep yourself healthy, wouldn’t you want to know how to do that? It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it’s as easy as getting a good night’s sleep.”

A few facts about Sleep –

  • We spend almost one-third of our lives asleep.
  • You can improve your immune system with a consistent regime of good sleep.
  • Sleep improves your memory.
  • Sleeping well will help you master all the other THM® steps.

Here’s how to assess your sleep health in THM® terms.

  • Beginner * Become aware of your body’s sleep patterns. Notice when your body needs sleep and also the times you sleep when you don’t really need it, and why.
  • Intermediate * Same as beginner, plus try to establish healthy sleeping habits, like getting to bed and waking up at the same time each day, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and getting to bed before midnight.
  • Advanced * Same as intermediate, plus keep a sleep journal to better track your pattern, including any roadblocks to a good night’s sleep.
  • Makeover Maniac * Become so obsessed with your journal that you no longer have time to sleep.


Read more about Sleep in Marilu’s books.

Total Health Makeover * chapter 12

The 30 Day Total Health Makeover * short summary on pages 67-68

Healthy Kids * what happens to our kids on pages 1-3; bedtime stories on pages 179-181


Sleep well; stay healthy

Getting a full night of good sleep is a key to good health. One of sleep’s greatest gifts is hormone balancing. Once we get below 7 hours of sleep a night, we are automatically at increased risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression, and obesity.

Slow waves = better metabolism. That deep, dreamless, slow-wave sleep that we fall into about three or four times a night may actually regulate our metabolism, according to some researchers. This stage of sleep starts about an hour after we fall asleep, and during that time we release growth hormone, which prompts the body to burn stored fat. As we age, we get less time in this stage – perhaps only 5-10 percent of our sleep time. Compare that to the 20 percent we get when we’re young, and it’s clear why we may feel shortchanged.

If we have just two nights of bad sleep, our hormones start to rebel. Leptin, which manages our satiety (fullness, satisfaction), will be reduced by 20 percent. Ghrelin, which manages our hunger, can be increased up to 30 percent. In two crappy nights, we get hungrier and we don’t feel as satisfied by what we’ve eaten. For most of us, that leads to snacking or overeating.

Add one more night of bad sleep, and we become 25 percent less sensitive to insulin. It’s the same change in insulin resistance as if we instantly gained 25 extra pounds.

Do yourself a big favor. Stop those fat-storage hormones and green-light the fat-burning hormones. Help your body stay healthy and drop weight by getting at least seven hours of sleep a night!


Get a good night’s sleep

The body releases it’s greatest concentration of human growth hormones (HGH) during sleep. These are the main ingredients that help the body repair damaged tissue. HGH spurs cell division and organ growth, particularly during childhood. It tapers off in adults after age 30.

Sleep deprivation can cause immune system failures. Bacteria that we normally are able to fight off start to run wild. One single night of sleep deprivation can result in a 30 percent decrease in the activity of cells that attack tumors in the human body.

When your doctor says “get some rest” it means you need to stop what you’re doing and get some sleep, so that your body can start focusing on healing itself at the cellular level.

Do your health a favor – get a good night’s sleep.


Getting to sleep

Did you know that nearly one-third of the world’s adult population has trouble getting to sleep? If you fall into that group, try these tips.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night, and have an established bedtime routine.
  • Exercise during the day. Tire out your body by using it during the day.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine, stimulants, and alcohol. Even when you consume them early in the day, they can affect your sleep.
  • Eat your main meal at midday, and a light meal in the evening.
  • Learn a relaxation technique – meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, journaling – and practice it as part of your bedtime routine.
  • Don’t overthink it. The more worked up you get, the harder it is to sleep.


Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow

One of the best ways to get a jump on your day is to start thinking about it the night before.

Before you go to bed tonight, spend 30 minutes preparing for tomorrow:

  • check your calendar for tomorrow’s events (business meetings, kids’ sports, etc)
  • know what you’ll eat for breakfast
  • pack as much of your lunch (and your kids’ lunches) as possible
  • check backpacks, briefcases, totebags, and purses (lunch money, permission slips, flash drives, power cords, library books, homework, USB cables, textbooks, uniforms, instruments, sports equipment … this list can go on forever, can’t it?)
  • lay out your workout clothes if you work out at home; pack your gym bag if you work out somewhere else – don’t forget your shoes
  • lay out your clothes (and your kids’ clothes) for the day
  • put your skin brush on the bathroom counter or scale, where you’ll see it first thing
  • fill your water bottle

You’ll sleep better tonight, you’ll have a jump start on your morning, and it will make the whole day go easier.


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