I’ve always been been good at falling asleep, but I did find myself regularly waking up in the middle of the night either too hot or thinking too much or just uncomfortable. Once I woke up, it was almost impossible to fall back asleep. My brother, Dan, attributes that waking period to the “two sleeps” where, historically, some cultures had a pattern of sleeping for 3-4 hours, waking to do some creative work, meditate, have sex or whatever and then fall back asleep again for another 3-4 hours. I thought that idea was kind of cool, but I just don’t fall back asleep after my brain gets going. I’d rather just sleep through the night in one swoop, then wake up and do awesome stuff all day. For a couple of months, I wore a Fitbit to bed to track my sleep patterns. No surprises, but the data reinforced what I already knew about when I was deep in sleep (not much of the time) and when I was awake tossing and turning. So, now what? The options were to stick with the same sleep, wake, sleep, be groggy all morning pattern or try to adjust it somehow. In my opinion, the keys to a good nights sleep are no lights, no distracting sounds, steady comfortable temperature and a clear/ stress free mind. When chatting with my friend/ real estate business partner, Jeff, he added in “consistency, no technology devices allowed in the bedroom, and limiting caffeine after noon.” All valid points! So, to correct my suboptimal sleep pattern, I tried all kinds of stuff and here are the results…
#1 An Essentia Mattress – Of course I use this nightly! We actually purchased this mattress about 2 years ago and it was a significant sleep upgrade. The previous mattress was a Costco special that eventually cratered in the middle, so you would wake up with a strained back and sore side from fighting the nightly gravitational pull to the center. After significant research, we chose an Essentia mattress because it is made from certified organic latex and is unbelievably comfortable. Three years later and it is still as comfortable as day one. Essentia doesn’t have many store locations, but we are lucky enough to have one in Chicago. We spent an entire Sunday afternoon trying out the different firmnesses before selecting the right one. When we travel, I wish we could take it with! I haven’t found a mattress as comfortable anywhere. Essentia mattresses are expensive, but they run sales all the time, so sign up for email alerts and wait for a deal. It’s worth it!
#2 Black Out shades from The Shade Store. I splurged and got the motorized version, so we get darkness or light at the touch of a button. I guess light switches also fall into that category. Anyway, there is some “light leak” around the edges. It drives me crazy, so, I supplement with a SleepMaster sleep mask. I’m so used to sleeping with the mask on, that it is hard to sleep without it. There is something comforting about having it wrapped around your head like a warm hug. It looks weird, but I’m not posting sleepy selfies, so who cares. Rene does not like to sleep with hers on every night and the light leak also bothers her. We’re most likely adding a blackout curtain for the princess (Rene, not me) – stay tuned for that update.
#3 No Tech! I try to limit screen time and exposure to led lights before bed. Also, WiFi and bluetooth are turned off on the phone, there are no smart wifi switches in the bedroom and all the lighting is from incandescent bulbs. I did EMF testing on the room and the outlets. The room was great having no signals, but the outlets/ wiring were carrying a high amount of EMFs. I was able to reduce the “dirty electricity” and bring the numbers down using GreenWave filters on two of the outlets. If you’d like more information on how to test for EMF’s in your home, please reach out to me. This has been a game changer for us.
#4 No blue light. If I’m up late working before bed, I use Night Shift and f.lux apps. You can use these apps on your smartphone, tablet, laptop to create a yellowish/ orange tinted screen. This limit the evil blue light that messes up your sleep because your brain thinks it is still daytime. I use nightshift on my iPhone and f.lux on my MacBook after sunset to keep my circadian rhythm in check. The only time I have issues using the apps is when I am processing real estate photos in Lightroom and forget f.lux is running. After making color adjustments with f.lux on, you can get some funky results in real world lighting. So, if you are doing any graphic design or photo processing where color is important, you can click the “disable for an hour” button on f.lux. Or just do it during the day!
In lieu of the apps, you could try yellow tinted glasses, similar to the old school Blu Blockers. We have tried the inexpensive Uvex Skyper yellow safety glasses and the fancy Swanwick glasses – Swannies are cool, hipster looking yellow lens glasses that we first saw at the Paleo f(x) conference. These babies stop the blue light before it hits your eyes. I’d say that both are very beneficial at night if you are watching TV or on the computer. I prefer the way the Swannies fit and look, but I’m not a big fan of the pricetag so search around for discount codes.
#5 The ChiliPad – I use this nightly and can’t do without it. I sleep hot and would wake up in the middle of the night throwing the comforter off so I could cool back down. The Chilipad is a mattress pad that circulates cool or warm water, keeping your body temperature however you like it. I originally purchased a chilipad to cover the whole mattress and with dual controls to have separate temperature control on each side. The chilipad didn’t agree with Rene as immediate swings in temperature will trigger nerve symptoms in her legs, so the company was kind enough to swap the dual one for a single. I’m happy with it, she is happy without and we are both sleeping well. Aside from the Essentia mattress, this really is my favorite sleeping device! The infamous Ben Greenfield tipped me off to the Chilipad at Runga in Costa Rica. Thanks Ben!
#6 Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier – We run a portable cool mist humidifier in the dry Winter months and fill it every other night with filtered water. Humidifiers are pretty basic and this one is nothing fancy. I think it was about $20 at Target. You can find them in the baby section! Without the humidifier, Rene is waking up in the middle of the night with a dry throat, which wakes me up and then no one is sleeping. The humidifier is $20 well spent!
#7 Air Filter – we use a Honeywell Air Genius filter that is washable and has a charcoal pre-filter. I need to clean it about once a month, so it is doing the job and catching particles from the air. I am wondering how much it is missing, though because the exterior gets pretty dusty. At some point, I’d like to upgrade to a HEPA filter and/ or ozone air cleaner. Still researching!
#7 Delta Sleeper – This little device I use a few times per week. It sits on your collar bone and sends a pulsed field at a specific frequency through your brachial plexus to your brain. Sound weird? Well, it is, but I do get some serious deep sleep when I’m using it. Ben Greenfield again gets credit for introducing me to this one and #8. It is really cool and does work!
#8 Binaural Beats – You may have heard the term or tried binaural beats before. Basically, you wear headphones and listen to a steady frequency in one ear and a slightly different frequency in the other ear. The difference in frequencies makes the sound “pulse” as your brain reads the sound as the difference between the two frequencies. Your brain goes along for the ride on that frequency difference and can put you into a very relaxed state. Different frequencies will produce different results, so you pick the right frequency for sleep or meditation or for focus or attention. There are a bunch of apps that have binaural beats, but I have been using SleepStream. You can layer in other sounds like rainfall or waves crashing into the shore. It is really relaxing. I have listened to them in combo with the Delta Sleeper and it puts me in a kind of trippy meditative sleep. Since the binaural beats need stereo sound to work, you have to use headphones for best results. I’m not a fan of sleeping with headphones on, but I found some comfortable sleeping headphones that are built into a headband. Even wearing those, I still end up waking up in the middle of the night wrapped in the wire and have at least one sore ear. Because it ends up defeating the purpose when I wake up at night, I don’t use binaural beats very often. But they are interesting to play around with!
So, did the experimentation work? Absolutely! You really don’t have to spend money on the weirder stuff, but having that light-free environment, comfortable bed, comfortable temperature, consistent bedtime = good sleep habit will get you there. Things I wouldn’t do without are the Essentia mattress, the Chilipad and the Sleepmaster mask. I’m sleeping great, now. I still wake up occasionally in the middle of the night, but I can usually attribute that to an extra glass of wine that I didn’t need or a super stressful day or both! When that happens, I just know to set aside a little more time the next night to get relaxed and de-stressed before bed. Anything interesting you do to fall asleep and stay asleep? I’m always open to more ideas!
I decided to take a full month off of wines and ciders after hitting it hard during the holidays. Rene was kind enough to join me on the journey. It fits right into our Paleo habits, so why not? Well, 30 days are wrapping up and I’m not too parched. Since mealtime didn’t revolve around a glass of wine, we focused on cooking at home and we also supplemented the month with Whole 30 meals from Kitchfix 2-3 times per week. We have been eating delicious Kitchfix food for about 4 years and it’s cool Kitchfix does a specific Whole 30 meal plan to support all the New Years resolutions out there. I’m definitely thankful they are around!
The big question… will dry January lead to a wet February? Lots of celebration stuff going on in Feb, like the Cubs Spring Training opener, my birthday (hint, hint), Valentines Day, Cider Summit 2018, four potential Friday Happy Hours, you get the drift. So, we will see. But, more importantly, was it worth taking a month away from adult beverages? If you would have asked me a week ago, it may have been a different answer. Here is a snapshot of the month: Week 1 – no biggie. I had enough champagne at a New Years Day party to carry me easily into 2019. Quite frankly, I was done with it after that party! Week 2 – there are some cold Stem ciders in the refrigerator door. They look mighty refreshing, but I’m really just looking for something to drink besides water. Enjoying a Dr Gundry soda, kombucha or just a sparkling water is a fitting replacement. Week 3 – I wouldn’t mind a nice glass of red wine. We made a kick ass pot roast in the Instant Pot and a nice deep red California wine would pair very nicely with it. I’m not really missing it enough to give in to temptation. But, I am realizing that I really don’t feel much different. It has been 3 full weeks and I’m sleeping about the same, mental clarity is about the same, I have same sinus issues I’ve always had. I do feel extra tired and lethargic, so that sucks. Best case scenario is that I saved some money by not buying any bottles of wine this month. Week 4 – The first day was just a carry over from week 3. But… yesterday and today were bonkers! I was in the zone all day long, woke up early without an alarm, super productive, tons of energy, extra cheery mood that was borderline annoying, overall perfect days. Did the dry January magic just kick in at the last minute? Whatever it is, I like it and will see how long it lasts! Because of the last two days, I’m going to carry over a “dryish” practice into Feb. I’ll do some celebration and social imbibing, but will limit a lot more than before. Things I learned from the month… 1) I don’t need to have a glass of wine with dinner every night. That was just a bad habit I got into. I just needed to break the association between dinner and stemware. 2) I can still have fun without a bevie. I went to a Warren Zevon tribute concert and just drank sparkling water. It’s Zevon, so usually beverages are in order, but I still had a great time enjoying the music and felt pretty damn good the next day. 3) Give things like Whole 30 some time to see the true effects. I eat really clean anyway, so the food part didn’t make much difference. It took a full 30 days for me to see any benefit from the rest. So be patient, give it time and don’t give up!
I recently noticed the array of charcoal based and charcoal infused products on the market. When I saw a Proactiv commercial with a charcoal bristle cleansing brush over the weekend, I realized that charcoal has finally jumped the shark. Charcoal is gaining popularity lately for its deep cleaning and detoxification properties. In my own medicine cabinet, I have charcoal capsules, charcoal tooth powder, charcoal face mask goop, and even charcoal deodorant. Intrigued by the concept, I even tried a charcoal based kombucha. That particular yeasty, vinegar tinged, grayish elixir should only be consumed on a dare. Blah! Our water pitcher has a charcoal based filter and our air purifier has a charcoal pre-filter designed to remove odors from the air. The burning question (pun intended)… Does charcoal actually work? Well, aside from the charcoal kombucha, I’m definitely a fan.
I take the charcoal capsules on a regular basis for the mild detox effects. The charcoal traps toxins in your system and helps you get rid of them rather than absorb them into your body. Charcoal capsules are not a new concept. I was taking them 20 years ago to mitigate hangover effects from a long nights out coupled with cheap booze. It definitely works! The impurities in the alcohol bind to the charcoal bits and don’t have a chance to wreck your precious weekend with a brutal hangover. These days, I take charcoal capsules to detox all the big city car exhaust, brake dust and other crap in the air I’m breathing. I buy the Bulletproof brand capsules, which are made from coconut shells, but there are a lot of good ones out there. Just be sure to check that they are all natural without any other ingredients and not made by Kingsford for your Weber grill. Also, you want charcoal that is “activated”. By activated, it means that the charcoal has been processed at high heat, which makes it more porous and effective at trapping the nasties. You can actually break open the capsules to DIY a facial cleansing mask, add to your toothpaste, etc. I did that for awhile and then decided to just buy the dedicated products.
The Dental Duty charcoal tooth powder is a fun one. Yeah, I have “off-white” teeth, maybe a tinge yellow. I definitely don’t have the sparkling pearly whites that you see on tv. Rather than using toxic tooth whitening products, the charcoal tooth powder is a natural alternative. While brushing with the charcoal tooth power, your teeth look like they time warped from 17th century Great Britain. After you rinse out the dark gray slurry, your teeth are smooth, shiny and a tad more white. They continue to get brighter after several uses. I use the tooth powder a couple times a week after brushing with my regular toothpaste.
The Fine Vine charcoal face mask that I use is clay based, so it is more like a mud mask then the fancy clay masks you see people peeling off on commercials. The mask also works great. I use it about once a week. You put it on thick and wait 30 min for it to dry. It dries to a nice dark gray and tingles slightly. Warning: the face recognition on your phone will not work when you have the mask on. When you wash it off, your complexion will be noticeably brighter and will feel deep down clean. Smart phone facial recognition will also return to normal. I tend toward oily skin and this stuff works great to even me out and keep that complexion clear.
The last product for today is the Primally Pure charcoal deodorant. This stuff is amazing. I’ve been using Primally Pure deodorants for 2 years and they have always exceeded my expectations. The charcoal deodorant is new to their line up and is my new fave. Obviously, this is a daily use product, but I don’t have to worry about any errant pit odor with their products. Not even after a hot yoga class. All good!
Any interesting charcoal products you have used or would recommend trying? I’m game!
Fun fact: Old St Nick gives out coal to the bad kids and charcoal to the good kids 🙂
The Joovv is up and running!
Unboxing/ Set up
Very easy to set up… well packaged, super high quality machine. I’m relieved that it doesn’t look like something I cobbled together in the basement. From the photos online, I expected it to be silver, but it’s white. White goes better with the walls anyway! There was a little Joovv branded timer with a handy magnet on the back that I didn’t expect. Bonus! The set-up literally took 5 minutes with no tools needed. You screw the stainless tension lines to the top threaded posts, connect a carabiner to the lines, slide the mounting peg over the top of the door and clip the pulley carabiner to that and clip the rope carabiner to the tension line carabiner. Easy Peasy. What’s the pulley for, you may ask? Well, it is so you can use the Joovv at different heights to treat your whole body. I may swap the black pulley rope for a white one just so it doesn’t look so out of place. My eye goes right to the rope and it’s driving me crazy aesthetically. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it 🙂 Also, with the pulley contraption in place, I’m starting to see the benefit of the larger Joovv Max and not having to adjust height. I still can’t get over the price difference between Joovv Original and Max, though. For now, my power cable routing looks a little temporary and awkward, but I’ll eventually find a more permanent place for the Joovv and mount it to a wall with a more streamlined layout. That is, if results come in as expected.
Holy F the Joovv is bright! Much, much brighter than I expected. It has a nice warming effect on the body as well. There are little fans that you can hear whirring inside the case to keep the machine cool. The digital timer they included with the Joovv works great and the display is easy to see. I just did a 5 min treatment sans shirt… and pants. I have some sinus congestion right now from all the crazy weather fluctuations. Maybe the Joovv will give some relief? Treatment results are supposed to come after 8-12 weeks of sessions, but fingers crossed to see positive results sooner. Today was a test, only a test.
1st Actual Use
Now I’ve had time to read through the Starter Guide. Based on my goals, I did a full body treatment. 7 min front, 7 min back, 3 min each side. I listened to a Ben Greenfield podcast to kill the time. While Joovving, I was also thinking of different ways to multitask and get more benefit. I did some alternate nostril breathing when my back was being treated, then box breathing when my frontal regions were in the light. I may also incorporate an earthing mat to stand on during treatment. I also took some “before” pics today so I can measure physical results. I’ll keep those to myself unless there is some dramatic improvement.
Upcoming Joovv topics:
My Daily Regimen
Short Term Results
That’s all for now. In the mean time, keep calm and Joovv on!
This weekend we went to our 2nd gong bath. It was at one of the studios we attend regularly, Tejas Yoga Studio in Chicago’s south loop. For those not familiar with a gong bath, it is a meditative experience where you lie still on your mat (just like savasana) and listen to the sound of gongs. Often times, there are other instruments/ sounds mixed in and at its high point, it is very loud. It’s much more musical than you would think, almost like a concert. You’re welcome to use any props to make your experience most comfortable as you are laying still for quite a while (this one was about an hour and fifteen minutes).
My first gong bath experience was also at Tejas with the same gong facilitator. But, my two experiences were very different. During the first one, I felt I was in a very meditative state – you know that feeling you get in a deep savasana where you are pretty much out of it? At points I was sure I was levitating and, during peak moments, I saw waves of colors swirling over and around me. I know this sounds a bit woo-woo, but just think of it like a weird, deep dream. During the second one, this past weekend, I mainly felt anxious during it. No colors, no floating off the floor. I felt really nervous during the first part and I just couldn’t relax and concentrate on my breath. After a while, frustration crept in and I was aware of any cough, sneeze, or movement from others nearby. The time still went by quickly, but when it was over, I just thought “huh – that was weird” instead of feeling light and rested like I did with the first one.
Chuck and I recapped our experiences on the ride home and they were very similar. We wondered why we both felt anxious with this one and blamed each other for putting off negative energy as the cause. But, really, there are probably a variety of reasons. Maybe a bunch of people in the room did have negative energy affecting it? It was a Friday night right after work. Our position in the room? Expectations from the first time? We did an hour of gentle yoga prior to the going bath that we didn’t do last time – maybe that contributed? Time of year? It is cold AF right now. Political climate and our current “leader” maybe adds a new level of universal stress?
Chuck mentioned his experience to James (one of Teja’s owners) at yoga today to see how his experience compared with ours. James said he had to sit up at one point into a seated position because of the intensity of the gongs, but overall he had a positive experience. I think that just like yoga, each person’s experience is going to be different based on you – with some level of influence from your environment (in this case, the immediate room that day). Nonetheless, it’s a really unique and cool meditative experience to try – we’ll see what the next one brings!
We just received our eagerly anticipated Joovv light yesterday! As excited as I am to try it, my Joovv is still sitting in the box because I wanted to document my outrageous goals for this device before I get distracted and forget what they are. Quick background… I spent over a week researching infrared saunas, then red light therapy. I watched endless videos and listened to the podcasts. In the end, the Joovvv light came out on top for me. From the online testimonials, people love it and seemingly can’t live without it. The Joovv has the endorsement of some highly respected doctors, trainers, bloggers, bio-hackers and we had friends use Joovv lights at RUNGA 2017 in Panama. It also has a 60 day return policy, so I’m going to put it through the paces for the next 60 days and see which of my goals are realized. I chose the Joovv Original with the Combo red light and UV. We do have a steam sauna in our condo building, so I thought the red light, UV and being able to add in the steam sauna to the mix would be really good for health and recovery.
So, why did I buy this and what am I hoping to achieve?
Chuck’s Joovv Goals
-Quicker muscle recovery
-Improved energy levels
-Hair regrowth (please!)
-Improved skin tone and complexion
-Getting rid of Excalibur once and for all (this will be explained at a later date)
-Improved eyesight (in my mid 40’s and near vision is getting further away. Maybe a reduction in “floaters” as a bonus)
-I’ll probably shine it on my balls “Ben Greenfield style” just to see what all the hype is about. By “probably”, I meant definitely.
For what it’s worth, I paid full retail for the Joovv light and they have no idea that I’m blogging about the results. I’ll be adding to the following topics as they happen!
Unboxing/ Set up
1st Use Impressions
My Daily Regimen
How It is Going… Positives, Negatives?
Wow wow wow! It is our 5 year anniversary or living a Paleo lifestyle. I’m happy to report that Paleo principles work and I truly feel better than I ever have. I feel stronger, healthier and more alive than I did 10 years ago. I even look younger now than I did in 10 yr old photos. It is so crazy the changes that clean eating and living can make. Rene and I have come a long way in the past 5 years. Things that are just a normal part of our daily routine, I would have scoffed at and poked fun at before. When I look at fond Facebook memories from 6-10 years ago, I see a clueless ball of inflammation having an absolute blast eating deep fried Mac and cheese bites washed down by a flight of craft beer. We originally started our Paleo journey when Rene was diagnosed with MS in 2013. I am ecstatic to report that she has been largely symptom free and 100% prescription drug free ever since following the Wahls Protocol. For me, I have been extremely busy between real estate, photography and amateur bio-hacking. So…. the blog has been dormant for far too long. For the rest of 2018, we are making an effort to help others out with their health and wellness journeys. We will be looking back over the past 5 years and writing about what has worked, what we have learned and what we can’t live without. Also fun will be to explore the products and protocols that didn’t make it into our routines.
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to “The Weirds”. We will be delving into topics like dry skin brushing, PEMF therapy, muscle testing, organ meats, Bulletproof Coffee, detoxing your home, charcoal tooth powder, gong baths, earthing, sleep, meditation, podcasts/ resources, EMF testing, structured water, deodorant, squatty potty, skin care, cupping, traveling, cold therapy, myofacial release, toe spacers, bentonite clay, electro muscular stimulation, oil pulling, digital detox, red light therapy, water filtration, the Human Charger, meal prep tools, favorite foods/ snacks, supplements and tons of other stuff!
Hack is a strong word for this, but it sounded cool. It’s actually just an improvement. I’ll spare you from the build-up and history, but it is below if you would like to read on…
The annoying problem with the 32 oz bottles of Bulletproof Brain Octane is the drip that comes down the side and makes a mess on the counter. I contacted Bulletproof to see if they sold a better dispenser bottle or a pump, but no luck. I searched far and wide to find a solution to my oily counter. Amazon to the rescue! The best option I found was a small pump that actually screwed perfectly onto the top of the bottle. Perhaps the bottles are made by the same manufacturer? Also, the serving size for Brain Octane is 1 teaspoon. What luck! This pump dispenses exactly one teaspoon and is only $4.98! The odd thing, it is a dispenser pump for bottles of Liquid Glucosamine… for dogs. Here is a link. Canine connection aside, my only question is if the pump is BPA free like the Brain Octane bottle. It works beautifully, though. Hopefully I can get the BPA question answered, but, until then, my counter is drip free! Hey Dave – let’s sell some pumps!
We first tried Brain Octane in Austin Texas at Paleo f(x) 2015. Dave Asprey gave a great talk, so we stopped by the Bulletproof booth in the vendor fair to chat. Great guy, great info and very passionate about his Bulletproof products. We had been making our own version of Bulletproof coffee at home with regular coconut oil and (sometimes) grassfed butter. Delicious and gives you a nice brain jumpstart for the day. At Pf(x), we learned about medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT) and how it is more effective than just coconut oil. We tried Brain Octane and really noticed a difference in alertness and sharpness. No downside to it, except the price! You can read about Brain Octane here… http://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-upgraded-brain-octane/. Back to work!