Jennifer Hanway

Enliven Your Lightest, Brightest You

Jennifer Hanway is a Holistic Nutritionist, Bio Signature Modulation Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer, originally from London but now living in Newton Centre and working in Back Bay, Boston.

Filtering by Tag: healthy sleep

Healthy Sleep: Light Exposure, the Sleep/Wake Cycle and Cute Glasses!

This post is written in partnership with Swanwick Sleep, however all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!

Tim and I have been wearing blue blocking glasses for years, ever since I introduced him to them when we started living together. But five years ago, the choices were incredibly limited, and quite frankly, incredibly ugly. Now my husband could make a trash bag look good, but it was hard to see the dreamboat behind the bright orange, cheap plastic ‘Neo from The Matrix’ blue blocking glasses. And mine were no better, as I had chosen oversized tortoise shell frames, which made me look like a biohacking reject from the seventies…

But, blocking my blue light exposure after sunset is a huge part of my stress/sleep routine, and means I can continue working into the evening on my laptop or other devices should I need to. And I find that if I have an event on until late in the evening (late meaning 8pm to me as I am a Lion Chronotype), popping on my blue blocking glasses helps me wind down before sleep.

I was so happy when Swanwick Sleep reached out to me - finally I had found a pair of blue blocking glasses that were not only effective, but looked super cute as well! I currently have their Night Swannies, and plan on getting a pair of their prescription Day Swannies too, for my days in the office when I am researching and writing (and want to look good at the same time).

How Blue Light Exposure Affects Your Sleep/Wake Cycle

Light is one of the key zeitgebers, or regulators of our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm dictates everything from our energy levels to when we are hungry, mentally alert, crave social interaction, and of course our sleep/wake cycle.

When photoreceptors in the eye detect blue light, they send a message to the pineal gland via the suprachiasmatic nucleus (a tiny area of the brain) to suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces the onset of sleep. Whilst this is exactly what we want during the day when we need to be alert and awake (and why I suggest getting as much light exposure as possible early in the day), blue light exposure after sunset disrupts our circadian rhythms, preventing melatonin secretion and the cascade of physiological effects that help us wind down and relax, preparing us for restful and restorative sleep.

Ideally, we would live like our paleolithic ancestors and end our working day at sunset, relying only on the orange hue of firelight until bedtime. But unfortunately, we are all busier and have more responsibilities than every more, and as such many of us are working from home in the evenings. And if we are not working we are watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling through social media, all the while exposing ourselves to blue light and causing dis-regulation of our sleep/wake cycles.  

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Now, I like to meet my clients where they are at, and give them workable solutions to our everyday health challenges. Whilst I would love for them to shut off all their electric lights and play board games by candlelight in the evenings, I know that this is never going to be the reality! Here are some simple ways you can regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle throughout the day:

  1. Exposure yourself to as much daylight during the day as possible: use a daylight alarm clock, draw the curtains the minute you wake up, workout outside, try and sit near to a window whilst working, and go for a walk at lunchtime or mid-afternoon.

  2. Use a pair of Day Swannies (they have Custom Rx versions too) for long stints at your computer or smartphone.

  3. Switch overhead bright lights to softer side lighting and lamps after sunset

  4. Use the ‘Night Mode’ settings on your smart phone, and programs such as F.lux on your devices to minimise the amount to blue light your electronics emit.

  5. Pop on your Night Swannies should you have to work or look at screens past sunset, or if you find it hard to wind down in the evenings

  6. Ensure there is no light at all in your bedroom at night - try blackout blinds or curtains, eliminate any LED’s, and use an eye mask too if your partner comes to bed at a different time than you!


To get your hands on a pair of Swannies (they are unisex, and come in Day, Night and Custom Rx options) simply click on the link below:

www.swanwicksleep.com









Ask Jenny: Staying Healthy on a Long Haul Flight

I’m traveling to Vietnam soon and want to make sure I am prepared for the long flight. Do you have any tips on how to prepare and what to bring?
— Jacquey, Boston

Hi Jacquey - how exciting! I love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit some incredible places, and Vietnam is definitely on my bucket list. This trip would absolutely be considered long haul, but the majority of the advice below can be applied to both long haul and short haul flights:

1).  Fuelling on the Flight

You would be surprised what foodstuffs you can actually bring on a plane, and if I’m flying any longer than 4 hours I always pack a huge salad, with a ton of plants, some great protein (quite often plant based as it tends to travel well, such as chickpeas or lentils, and some healthy fats). I will pre-order the gluten free meals on the plane, but usually just pick out the fruit and salad.

I also pack small packs of nuts, often an avocado, small packets of collagen or plant protein powder, and protein bars such as Epic, Rx or Bulletproof Collagen Bars, and some herbal teas, and packets of Four Sigmatic Mushroom coffee (I buy most of these from Thrive Market). I’d much rather be over prepared than under prepared!

Intermittent Fasting can be helpful whilst flying, and if I am taking an overnight flight (which I avoid as much as possible) I certainly will not eat the meal served after take off, and will try and go straight to sleep. I have tried IF whilst taking a day flight from Boston to London, but personally I just find this too hard! If it is a shorter flight (anything under 4 hours) I try not to eat on the flight to help with digestion and gut health.


2) Supplements To Take On The Plane

Save room in your hand luggage by taking a minimum of supplements into the cabin with you - I put just my shelf stable probiotic (I love New Chapters Probiotic All-Flora) in my hand luggage, and check the rest.

The other supplement I like to travel with is a greens powder to stir into some water, or even chlorella or spirulina powder or tablets. Airplanes are one of the most toxic places on earth and flying creates a ton of oxidative stress in the body so giving your body an extra boost of antioxidants will help you feel more alert and energized post flying.

3) Sleep Aids and Accessories

I like to wear my blue blocking glasses on any flight longer than 4 hours (and especially long haul) to help protect me from all of the blue light on board that can mess with my circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle.

I never, ever take a long flight without my Bucky Eye Mask, and silicone ear plugs. I also like to take some lavender oil, or pop a few drops on my neck pillow before I travel. I personally don’t use compression socks, but if you feel more comfortable with them or have circulatory issues then they are definitely a good idea.

I do take melatonin on a long flight to help me sleep, and to help me on to the local time zone when I arrive. I find 5mg is too much for me (and most people), so I usually do half of one of this.


4) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

This is probably a given, but staying hydrated on a long haul flight is a must. I usually buy two big bottles before I board, and refill my travel bottle. If your home airport doesn't have a water fountain with a built in filter then head to the Starbucks and ask them to fill it up as their water is triple filtered! I also like to travel with my Brita Water Filter Bottle so I can filter the water on the plane too.

5) Beating Jetlag

Jetlag really can be a killer, but there are some strategies you can implement to ease the pain! Get on the local time zone as soon as possible, expose yourself to as much daylight as your can, and try and earth yourself by standing barefoot on grass or sand as soon as you can after landing. Whilst exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do 30-40 minutes strength training can really help beat jetlag, but if this is impossible a brisk walk is also wonderful. Eat light, protein and veggie based meals throughout the day, with some carbs in your evening meal to help boost natural melatonin production.

If you want more tips on healthy sleep, my new book ‘24 Hours to Less Stress, More Sleep’ is out in September! To pre-order your copy, save $5 and receive all the free bonuses head to: https://www.jenniferhanway.com/lessstressmoresleepbook

This post does contain affiliate links but I only recommend products I love and use personally or with my clients!






Ask Jenny: Which Annual Health Tests Do You Recommend?

I love that you say ‘test, don’t guess’ as I really believe its important to know your own numbers, but can you please advise which tests we should be undergoing on a yearly basis?

- Robin, Boston

Such a great question Robin, and as you know I am so passionate about empowering ourselves and our health by advocating for our own health in the conventional medicine space - and a big part of that is knowing our numbers!

Below are the GENERAL tests that I recommend my clients undertaken every 6-12 months, but please its important to highlight that everyone is different, and may require further testing depending on health status, current medications and family history. This is a conversation to have with your healthcare practitioner before they requisition your lab work.

At home testing and tracking can also be super useful for understanding your own health and for communicating with your doctor. Women should always be tracking their menstrual cycles (even if you are on the contraceptive pill), and personally I use the Clue app, and I also recommend tracking fasting blood glucose with a simple monitor.

1-2 Times A Year

• Complete Metabolic Panel and Complete Blood Count

• Metabolic Markers: Hemoglobin A1C, Fasting Blood Glucose, Insulin, Lipid Panel 

• Essential Nutrients: Iron, Ferritin, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Magnesium

• Broad Thyroid Panel 

Twice Yearly:

• Dentist

• Optician

Other

• Women: Pap Smear every 5 years, Mammogram every 1-2 years after the  age of 45

• Men: Prostate Exam after the age of 50 

Additional:

• Food Sensitivities Test 

• Heavy Metals and Mineral Status

(these will not be covered by insurance, however I work with a clinic in Newton Centre that offers this testing. Please email me for more details).

Ensuring Restful and Restorative Sleep Tonight and Every Night With New Chapter’s Turmeric Force Nighttime

This post is written in partnership with New Chapter, however all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!

 I love to sleep. Sleep is sacred to me, I protect my 8 hours a night fiercely, and I ask my clients to do the same.

And for good reason. Sleep is one of my key tenets of optimum health, and without consistent, restful, restorative sleep we can suffer from reduced cognitive function, an impaired immune system (studies show you are nine times more likely to fall ill at cold and flu season), an increased risk of inflammation, and even reduced longevity. But in our modern day, 24/7, hyper connected lives sleep is becoming harder and harder to prioritize, and our health is suffering from it.

One of the main reasons for this is that we are neglecting to manage our cortisol levels (our stress and energy hormone) throughout the day, leaving us super switched on but exhausted by the time we think about ‘winding down’ before bed. A healthy cortisol curve is one that is high in the morning (giving us a boost of energy), stable during the day, and lowers in the late afternoon and evening, preparing you for a night of restful and restorative sleep. Our cortisol curve is governed by our circadian rhythm, which is in turn is governed by zeitgeibers (think of these such as regulators) such as light, heat, food, exercise and social interaction. When these regulators are out of sync with our natural rhythms (i.e. those bright lights and loud music at your 8.30pm spinning class), or the blue light that stimulates your pineal gland as you scroll through social media just before you go to bed, we upset the natural balance of our regulatory endocrine system.

 However, ensuring great sleep every night is not impossible, in fact just by implementing some of tips I share below you can establish a healthy sleep routine that will boost your energy, brain power, and all-round health and vitality!

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Keep It Consistent

Even more important than getting your six to eight hours a night is to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, seven days a week (yes, even at the weekends). You may have a little flexibility (30 minutes at the most), but consistency is key to quality sleep. If getting to sleep in the evenings is a challenge try moving your bedtime forward 15 minutes every week for a month to help you adjust gradually to the change.


Know Your Chronotype

We used to identify with 2 sleep/wake personalities, the early bird or the night owl, but the fascinating research from Michael J Breus, Ph.D. has identified 4 personalities, or chronotypes. Your chronotype affects everything from the best time to go to sleep and wake up, to workout, eat, drink coffee, and even sit for a test or interview for a job! I am a Lion chronotype which means that I am at my best early in the morning (I’m usually up by 5.30 at the latest without an alarm), but also means I am in bed by 8pm every night!

 You can find your chronotype at: https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/


Manage Stress Throughout The Day

 I know this is easier said than done, but getting a great night of sleep starts from the minute we open our eyes that morning. Managing our stress levels throughout the day ensures lower cortisol levels by the late afternoon and evening, which is key to regulate all of the bodily processes we need to fall asleep (melatonin production, lowering of body temperature, slowing of metabolism) at night.

I ask my clients to create a ‘toolbox’ of simple de-stressing solutions that they can use throughout the day and these can include breathing exercises than calm the central nervous system such as Box Breathing (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts), inhaling the scent of lavender essential oil (lavender has been clinically proven to reduce stress levels), eating a couple of squares of magnesium-rich dark chocolate (this is my favourite), or lying with your legs up against the wall for a few minutes.

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Reduce Blue Light Exposure

 Blue light, the type emitted by our laptops, tablets, phones and TV screens stimulates our pineal gland, a tiny endocrine organ nestled deep in the brain that regulates the production of melatonin. When it is stimulated by blue light coming in through the retina via the hypothalamus and the central nervous system it reduces production of melatonin, one of the major hormones that helps us get to sleep.

 

I ask my clients to limit blue light exposure in the 2 hours before bedtime, and many of our devices now have daytime/nighttime settings that help us do this, reducing the blue light emission and having the screens take on a warmer color. I also love to wear blue blocking glasses after sunset as I am especially sensitive to blue light, and will also wear these whilst travelling and changing time zones to help regulate melatonin production.

Take Targeted Sleep Supplements

 With a heavy travel schedule and frequent trips to and from London, even this sleep loving Lion sometimes needs a little help maximising sleep quality. New Chapter’s Turmeric Force™ Nighttime is a targeted blend of herbs including Chamomile, Valerian Root, Hops and Lemon Balm, that supports the type of deep restful sleep* that is imperative for optimum health.

 I also love that it does double duty by managing my body’s healthy inflammatory response whilst I sleep with whole food Ginger and Turmeric to support healthy aging*. Simply take two capsules an hour before bed (I keep mine on my bedside table and take before I read in the evening – whilst blocking blue light, of course) for a health boosting night of restful and restorative sleep.

 Sweet dreams!

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Contact: jenny@jenniferhanway.com