Moving towards healthier sleep

(and what the heck to do when you wake up in the middle of the night!)

This post is sponsored by Kohl’s as part of their #MakeYourMove campaign. I’m excited to participate, and thrilled to see a company supporting others in their goals of creating happier, healthier lives.

Healthy sleep 1 of 1

Sleep is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love sleep, and it’s a hidden talent that I can fall asleep ANYWHERE: in the movie theatre, head back and mouth wide open (attractive); in the middle seat of an airplane (without accidentally cuddling random seat-neighbors); or on a boulder (kidding, but it could probably happen). You can imagine how rough it was for me to experience sleep (= extreme lack of sleep) with a newborn. Even when Liv was happily crashed out, I was filled with so much anxiety that I tossed… and turned… and regularly checked to make sure she was breathing… until it was time to feed her again.

Since then, I’ve had an interesting relationship with sleep and learned first-hand the significant impact that sleep can have on health, fitness goals, alertness, and general happiness.

Sleeping seals

Some interesting facts about sleep:

Healthy sleep habits


Thankfully, I got my sleep mojo back, but went through a patch where I found myself waking up in the middle of night, riddled with to-do lists, or needing to use the restroom and having the worst time falling back asleep. Thankfully, I learned some tips and tricks that made me sleep like a baby (a two-year old baby, not the newborn kind haha) once again.

Here are some of my favorite healthy sleep tips and tricks:

1) Give yourself a peaceful sleep environment. I’ve found that technology up until I go to bed overstimulates me and makes it harder to wind down. I try to unplug around a half hour before bed, and will read a magazine, chat with the Pilot, or stretch to wind down. Bedding also makes a huge difference for quality of sleep; we have an awesome fluffy down comforter and dreamy memory foam mattress. Life-changing.

2) Avoid tons of liquid before bed. I couldn’t figure out why I would wake up every night to use the restroom and quickly realized that copious amounts of tea weren’t doing me any favors. Now, I skip out on extra liquid and focus on hydrating during the day and after workouts instead of right before bed.

3) If you wake up, try to determine why you’re awake and what you can do to fix it. For a while, Bella would jump off the bed and then whimper during the night for one of us to help her back up (she can get down, but has a hard time jumping up with the slippery wood floors). Solution: we bought pet stairs. She can get up and down no problem, and we’ve slept soundly ever since.

4) Set a bedtime and stick with it. This is a challenging one for us, since we’ll often get sucked into a TV show or are enjoying relaxing after the day. I’ve had to turn into a bit of a stickler for bedtime (in bed by 10:30, asleep by 11) and feel so much more rested when I crash out a little earlier.

5) Exercise! Give yourself a chance to get in some movement during the day. If you work out at night, give yourself some time to recover and cool down before settling into bed.

6) Watch the caffeine intake. When I reduced my caffeine intake (I drink coffee occasionally and usually opt for green tea. Cut-off time is 3pm), my sleep quality dramatically improved.

6) Keep a sleep journal. Having insight into patterns and techniques that you find helpful can make a huge difference. You may realize that you feel better with 9 hours of sleep, or 7; everyone has their own magic number. Keep the journal next to your bed, and if you find yourself awake and planning out the day or a to-do list, write it all out in your journal and then try to go back to sleep.

A little trick I learned from my trip to Mountain Trek: if you wake up during the night and can’t go back to sleep, inhale deeply (fill your lungs completely) and as you exhale, think of something you’re grateful for. Repeat until you’re asleep! It sounds totally weird, but TOTALLY works.

Bella, the sleep professional:

Sleeping bell

Some of my favorite products from Kohl’s for healthier sleep:

They’re currently running their #MakeYourMove campaign (which is what this post is a part of), to encourage others to make their move towards the things that make them healthier and happier: fitness, nutrition, sleep quality, and stress management. Feel free to join in using the hashtag, and share how you #MakeYourMove to achieve your goals and take care of yourself physically and mentally.

What do you think helps you get a better night’s sleep? What’s your magic number of hours each night? Mine is 8 or 8 1/2. It’s crazy to think that I used to function on 4-5 in the college days.



This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. Thank you for supporting the companies who help support this blog and our family! xo

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.


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  1. Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl on January 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I can function on very little sleep, but I know that’s not best for my body. 🙂 Love the Vera Wang lounge wear from Kohl’s!

    • Fitnessista on January 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      haha i crumble without sleep. love it, too!!

  2. Katie on January 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I loooooove sleep. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

    • Fitnessista on January 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      right there with ya. if i could nap every day, i would

  3. Erin on January 9, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I would medal if napping was an Olympic sport. Sleeping through the entire night? Haven’t done it in over a decade… But napping? Im a napping queen!

    • Fitnessista on January 9, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      napping is the best 🙂

  4. Erin on January 9, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I’m sorry Gina, but this sponsored post seems like a sell out. A retail store has nothing to do with sleep and everything to do with commercialization and making money.

    • Fitnessista on January 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      i think the goal of all stores is to sell products and turn a profit. i like to see that kohl’s is providing resources and support for consumers in fitness, sleep quality, and stress management, which is rarity with large retail chains. i tried to include a lot of awesome content with this sponsored post, and i’m sorry to hear you feel like it’s a sell out.

      • Jaime on January 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm

        I love to hear about your opinions, recommendations and favorite things regardless if it’s sponsored or not….so far in the last week I’ve purchased your book, and went out and bought a diva cup…life changing stuff and I have you to thank for it, so please keep it up!!

        • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm

          awesome to hear, jaime! thank you so much for reading <3

  5. Kate on January 9, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I could definitely use more sleep! I’ve found that taking away electronics an hour before is really helpful, but also I recently got the Jawbone Up bracelet that actually tracks sleep and I’ve been using that to help me learn to get in more rest!

  6. Debbie on January 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    I have found that I get better sleep on evenings when I take a yoga class. I need to start practicing at home, even if it’s just 15 minutes a night. Usually I get about 6 hours of sleep, even mornings when I do not need to set my alarm my body usually wakes me up.

  7. Jacque on January 9, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    9 hours is totally my sweet spot, but I definitely do the 2 or 3 hours up in the middle of the night thing sometimes…totally sucks! We got a memory foam mattress too and it is killing my lower back, what kind do you guys have?

    • Fitnessista on January 9, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      we have a temperpedic and it is GLORIOUS. best sleep ever since we got that thing a few years ago

  8. Marlene @Fit Delight on January 9, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    I’m a big fan of sleep too. I am rarely ever awake before 7. People laugh at me for not being an early morning person but I honestly can’t function on less than 8-9 hours a night. I contribute staying well to lots of sleep. Ok, now I feel like going to sleep:)

  9. Leah on January 9, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    I used to love sleep… Til I had kids. Everything changed after they came! Still need 8ish hours of sleep but kids occasionally and health stuff keep me up at night. Good nights I get 7 hours… Wish it was more but take what I can get.

  10. Janelle on January 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I’m glad to see you sleep with you dog, too! I feel like I’ve read do much lately about how sleeping with a pet disturbs your Sleep, but I honestly feel I’m more relaxed with her and sleep better.

    • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      same! also, i think bella sleeps more soundly than any of us, anyway 🙂

  11. Courtney Violet Bentley on January 10, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Haha Bella is so cute and a total pro my dogs should have degrees in sleeping lol! I started keeping a journal by my bedside and it helps because if something just “has to be remembered” or I come up with an idea out of the blue I like to just get it out of my head! Thanks for sharing xo C

  12. Missy on January 10, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I have to watch a little TV before going to sleep/as I fall asleep. It helps me relax.

  13. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine on January 10, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I’m always asleep by 8;40 and wakeup at 4:15! But I drink sooooo much later in the day (can’t help it!( I always get up once to use the bathroom, haha!

  14. Linda @ TheFitty on January 10, 2015 at 5:49 am

    I can tell you I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t ferl ad refreshed as I should the very next day and that’s partly to blame for my not sleeping early enough!

  15. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on January 10, 2015 at 6:24 am

    I used to get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep when I was in college too. I didn’t work out then, but still! Now I need at least 8 to feel rested.

  16. kristin | W [H] A T C H on January 10, 2015 at 6:28 am

    i have a to do list on my phone and if my mind is racing before bed i try to move to do items from my head to the list. then i don’t worry i’m going to forget something and my head quiets down.

  17. Irene on January 10, 2015 at 7:12 am

    I have a 4 week old and I miss decent sleep so so much!!!!!! I always knew I needed my sleep but I’m only know realizing just how badly. When did things start to get better for you with Olivia? Please tell me there is hope if a better night sleep in my near future!

    • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      honestly, i don’t remember, but i want to say we hit a huge turning point around 4 months. we slept through the night for the first time, and i was SHOCKED and so happy. there is definitely hope for you! hang in there. it seems like that time lasts forever, but you’ll get through it <3

  18. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on January 10, 2015 at 7:56 am

    I can honestly say that the quality and amount of sleep I get, will likely determine how I feel all day. I ALWAYS go to bed before, usually around 10 p.m. most nights, except Saturdays, when I stay up a little later. But I’m an early riser. Something that has helped my sleep is white noise and a little fan in the room. My hubby and I use both. And by the way Gina, I support Kohl’s. Mostly because they have that awesome LC clothing line. 🙂

  19. Rochelle on January 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

    8 is the best for me, but 7 is the very least I can get by with. If i don’t get enough sleep i am not happy. I have found that when i work out I am dead tired by 9 PM, no problems getting to sleep for me! Love Kohls!

  20. Leanne Winters on January 10, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Sleep is my best friend if im honest, i love sleeping but i had problems going into a deep sleep i love the little facts on sleep x

  21. Tracy on January 10, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I look forward to my afternoon nap almost as much as going to sleep at night. As long as I can remember getting in to bed at night is my absolute favorite time of day 🙂 I do pretty well on 7 hours!

    • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      same! it’s such a nice sigh of relief 🙂

  22. Mary Beth on January 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Before kids I think I needed 9 hours. But now I need less. I do pretty well on 7. But naps are awesome. I like an afternoon nap.

    Best sleep advice with toddlers: When my kids were waking up in the night (I have 2 year old twins) whether they’re sick or whatever, i find it’s best not to look at the time and calculate the amount of sleep I’m missing. If I don’t look I don’t get mad about it and am much happier the next day.

    • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      that’s SO smart. whenever i need to wake up during the night for whatever, the first thing i do is check the time and see how much sleep i’m missing. i’ll stop doing it!

  23. Jo-Lynne Shane on January 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Ooooh, girl, I love my sleep. Love your tips!

  24. Juliana on January 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    have you tried the 4-7-8 breathing technique? My sleep has improved dramatically since I started doing it while trying to fall asleep.

    • Fitnessista on January 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      no! just watched the video and loved it. i will definitely be using that; thank you for sharing!! xoxo

    • Missy on January 13, 2015 at 3:01 am

      Thanks for the link. I’ve never heard of this.

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  26. milania dela cruz on January 10, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I do everything you dooo!!!! i work best on 8-8.5 hrs!! and i always sleep around 11 latest 1130… no caffeine past 3-4 pm. i also turn the fan on with the heater on bc the fresh cool air makes me cuddle more on my super comfy comforter from ikea and super comfy duvet from dkny…and i got a new firm mattress which i looove. and i can sleep anywhere also!! :))

  27. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on January 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Great post! I always fight going to bed at night even though I’m exhausted. Once I’m down though, I’m out for the count!

  28. Alex @ True Femme on January 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I will admit that I used to set multiple alarms in the morning, knowing I wouldn’t get up on the first one. I learned in one of my psychology classes a few months ago that it’s far better to set one alarm in the morning and get up on that alarm, otherwise you risk your body going back into a sleep cycle, making it even harder to get up a few minutes later. I recommend the book “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington, because it’s the book that changed how I thought about sleep. I always take a shower or bath before I go to bed, I meditate, and I turn on a salt crystal lamp by my bed for a few minutes. I love the soft glow and it makes me drift off to sleep more peacefully!

  29. Ginger on January 11, 2015 at 11:49 am

    My neighborhood is very quiet at night, so the slightest noise can disturb my two dogs while they’re still falling asleep and keep us all up! The White Noise app on my phone is a lifesaver. Tons of sounds to choose from (my favorite is thunderstorm), and can be set to automatically shut off after an hour. It’s enough of a distraction from my thoughts to ease me to sleep.
    My yoga teacher also does a breathing technique with us (I forget what it’s called, but you use your fingers resting on your nostrils and forehead and alternate breathing in and out of each nostril) that I use if I’m really having trouble turning my brain off at night.

  30. Crystal on January 11, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had a harder time sleeping through the night. One thing we did that makes a huge difference: we invested in a Tempurpedic bed. I sleep so well now, but the downside is when we travel every other bed feels uncomfortable compared to it lol! I also agree with your suggestion to get regular exercise, makes a huge difference for me

    • Fitnessista on January 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      hahah we are the same way! we also have a tempurpedic -best house-related buy ever- and when we travel, we miss our bed.

  31. Sarah F on January 12, 2015 at 12:45 am

    I’m behind on this one but loved the comments to see what other people are sleeping.

    I’m absolutely the worst at sleeping during the week- around 11 pm, I always get a huge wave of energy and decide I just have to do that one last thing before going to bed. As such, during the week I often only get 5 or 6 hours of sleep. And then on the weekend I marathon sleep between 10-12 hours to get caught up. It’s one of the reasons having children scares me (not that I’m there in life, but just in general)- as my marathon weekend sleeps will be lost to me!

  32. Danielle Dunn on January 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I miss sleep! I’m where you used to be… waking up with a million mile long to do list in my brain & peeing constantly… so stinkin’ frustrating! I will def use these tips- I am seriously desperate for some awesome nights of zzz’s- so thanks for posting these!! 🙂
    xo Danielle

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