SPECIAL Edition: Christine on the Fit Chicks blog
Amanda Quinn: Hey guys, welcome to fit chicks chat. I'm Amanda Quinn and on today's podcast we have Christine Hansen, who is a holistic international sleep expert, speaker and sleep coach. So we are talking sleep. I'm so excited to have her. She is the creator of the '5 steps sleep like a boss process', focusing on sleep foundations, gut health, thyroid issues, nutrition and hormones that help people to fall and stay asleep without having to rely on sleeping pills. Now, I'm really excited to have Christine joining us for that particular reason, because it's a holistic approach. She's also a certified functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, Spencer Institute, Certified Sleep Science Coach and nutritional therapist. Christine combines emotional lifestyle and biochemical stress management in programs for her clients. Her expertise have been featured in numerous international publications such as the Independent, the Guardian Business Insider, Reader's Digest, Huffington Post, Elite Daily Entrepreneur on Fire and many more. She is a mother, number one amazon bestselling author for her book, 'Sleep like a boss: the guide to sleep for busy bosses' and award winning entrepreneur of the coop decor award of the creative young entrepreneurs Luxembourg awards. Christine is based in Luxembourg and fluent in English, German, French, and Luxembourgish. Alright. Thank you so much Christine, for joining us. Everybody. Enjoy.
Amanda Quinn: Welcome everyone to fit chicks chat. I'm Amanda Quinn. And in today's podcast I actually had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Christine Hansen of Sleep like a Boss. Hi Christine. How are you?
Christine: Hi Amanda. I'm very well.
Amanda Quinn: Thank you so much for joining me today. This topic to me is really, really important, because what I love about Christine's process and what I love about what it is that you do is that you are out there in the world teaching people about the importance of sleep, how to get restful sleep, but to do it without the use of pills and other quick fixes. You dive into it from a very different perspective. And that's what I'm so pumped to talk to you about today, because I think that it's a perspective that not a lot of people think, affects their life or extra sleep or things like that. Am I right?
Christine: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's also that a lot of people just don't know. Nobody really talks about it that way. So very often they find themselves confused, frustrated, really isolated. It's really my mission to transform those people; to really not just transform their sleep, but everything.
Amanda Quinn: Why should people be interested in getting a good night's sleep? Besides the obvious of just feeling restful and waking up and actually feeling good, because I know for me when I don't have a good night's sleep and as you know, being a mom and a mom of a toddler right now, restful sleep is not always in the cards. It's so important to me for so many different reasons, but mostly for productivity and mindfulness. What are the other reasons people should really be interested in, paying attention to these things and actually striving for good nights?
Christine: Sleep is unfortunately one of the things that goes out of the window the quickest. People are very good about their diets, often exercising, but sleep is then the thing that is sacrificed and it is the third pillar of health, so you cannot be ultimately healthy and get the goals that you want, if you don't consider and respect your sleep. The reason is that it is literally affecting everything in your life. And I mean everything, whether it is the way that your mood is to your health, because sleep is rejuvenating and restoring and repairing your complete body, while you are sleeping and it's very easy. Your body can't do everything at the same time; it can do certain processes when it is conscious, so when you are awake and certain only when you are asleep (which is not quite unconscious but similar in a way).
You can compare it to when you are hosting a party. You can either have a good time, entertain guests or you can run around and clean up and it's the same with our bodies. Nighttime is when the cleaning system comes and when they patch everything up, when they do the roadworks and bring everything back into balance. It's absolutely crucial, because if you don't do that regularly, the wear and tear is just going to get a lot worse. You're going to have things that are imbalanced that suddenly can't get back into their balance in one night, because it's been going on for so long. Anything that you are having a tendency towards, for example having a tendency to be more anxious or a tendency towards being a little bit depressed or blue, that is going to be emphasized by a lack of sleep. It is affecting your relationships. It's affecting your brain power, it's affecting your health in general, your lifespan. It's a crucial, crucial point.
Amanda Quinn: Correct me if I'm wrong, but sleep also has a huge effect on weight gain as well. Is that correct? Our podcast doesn't focus on weight loss and weight gain or things like that often, but I do know that a lot of people are really interested in how that affects it. So how is that correlation between weight gain and lack of sleep?
Christine: There are different reasons why it is affecting your weight gain. The number one reason would be, that it is messing up your hormones. You need your hormones to be calibrated. You need your metabolism to be working well, in terms to burn the calories to detoxify and all of that jazz, in order to really get rid of anything that the body doesn't need, instead of storing it. That is where sleep is absolutely crucial, because it's doing that when you are sleeping. The other thing is that it's going to affect your hunger and that's the more juicy kind of point. We have two hormones: Leptin and Ghrelin, which are responsible for our sensation of being hungry and also our sensation of feeling full. Research has shown that when you don't get enough sleep, both become decalibrated; which means that you will feel hungry more quickly, but you will feel full the more or a little bit later, so that way you will eat more, because you will eat before actually need to, but you will also eat more because the sensation of actually knowing that you had enough, is kicking in a lot later.
On top of that, not getting enough sleep is going to mess with your blood sugar levels. It's much harder for the body to control them. A blood sugar crash is going to be much more likely and as a reaction to that, we have a tendency to eat ,because our body needs insulin; it needs some sugar. That's why we very often reach to something sugary and unhealthy in order to combat that craving and uring signal from our body. So those are the main reasons, why sleep and weight loss are absolutely crucial.
Amanda Quinn: I always thought of it as whenever I'm really tired, I crave a lot of carbs. I just want to eat carbs, because it's instead fuel. It's obviously because my body needs energy and I knew about that, but I didn't really know about the way their hormones get affected as well. That's fascinating. Why don't you tell our listeners a little bit more about what you focus on, because as I mentioned quickly in your intro, you do focus on it from a holistic standpoint, as opposed to just implementing sort of a quick fix or pills or simple strategy.
Christine: Exactly. I really have like a 360 point of view when I see the person and it starts with that. I really look at the person, I create space, I take my time and I have five pillars that I work on. I found that absolutely crucial, if you want to get your sleep to be better. Number one is the typical one, which is sleep foundations. Sleep routines, sleep hygiene, blue light, bedroom environment all that kind of stuff. And usually when you look at sleep experts that's where it stops. Either they are sleep scientists, where they will just look at sleep disorders or they would just look at sleep hygiene and unfortunately that's not enough. There's so much more that's going on. Another pillar that I look at is the thyroid. 90% of my clients have thyroid issues very closely connected to sleep.
I look at gut health, because if you have leaky gut or parasites or bacteria, those are nocturnal. They're going to wake you up, because they create inflammation and an anti inflammatory is cortisol, which is our energy hormone or stress hormone. That's going to either wake you up or it's going to make it more difficult for you to fall back asleep. Then I'm looking at hormones, because a lot of people are very sensitive to hormone imbalances. I look at how many you have and what they are doing inside of your body. How they are metabolized. Are they flushed out or do they circle in your body over and over again, creating havoc. And of course, I look at nutrition as well. We look at food sensitivities, we will look at blood sugar balance, see how we can optimize our diet without counting carbs or anything like that.
When we do all of that, piece by piece; taking our time together with stress management. Getting techniques on how to diffuse stress during the day. A good night's sleep really starts in the morning. How we can park our stressors and triggers throughout the day, so that we don't have the traffic jam at nighttime; trying to wake you up. That combination is just magical.
Amanda Quinn: Very cool. Would you mind telling us a little bit more about why a good night's sleep begins in the morning? What do you mean exactly by that? What kind of things during the day can you be doing that will be actually affecting your sleep? I know that hormones and your gut health, is diving a little bit deeper. Are there any habits that people are doing during the daytime that are really affecting their sleep patterns at night?
Christine: Sure. I work with people who really want to make sleep but can't. Their relationship with sleep is very strained. Let's put it that way: If they were a couple, they'd be having a crisis. It is really about working on that relationship and small things that I like to do, is actually making your bed. I know for some people that's normal; but for some it's not. It's just creating this beautiful welcoming, 'Hi! Hello! You're back!' Fresh and clean feeling. So that's what I would start with. It's really something simple. Having a healthy breakfast is also super important. Having low glycemic foods in the morning. Having enough protein, not a sugar spike. Something that slowly releases your sugar into the bloodstream, but being nice and satiating, in order to keep your blood sugar curve well balanced during the day.
Then you would have to get to know yourself and get to know what kind of thoughts are triggering you at night. As soon as they arrive, they trigger us, because we don't want to talk about them. We don't want to think about them during the day; but I really advice my peeps to identify them and maybe not addressed them immediately, but give it an hour or so and then take a second and just acknowledge them. Then ask yourself, was this actually warranted to be worried about it? Is this something that is legitimate? If it was a comment, was that actually meant towards me or was this person having a bad day? When we are stressing out about being a perfectionist; is it actually me or is that the voice of my mother talking to me? Would I be talking to someone else that way? The way that I'm talking to myself. Yes or no? If the answer is no, then it's not valid. I can move on. It could also be a breathing exercise: One in the morning, one in the afternoon. It could be keeping a journal. All of those kinds of different techniques, depending on what sings to you. Will really help to diffuse that stress throughout the day, so that you don't have the bottleneck situation at night time.
Amanda Quinn: I know that a lot of people, some I know personally, deal with that racing mind syndrome at night. That's I guess what you're referring to as the bottleneck situation, because I it's stuff that they're not dealing with. Are there any other techniques, specifically for that or for insomnia, you suggest to people? I know that is a huge problem with people. They turn to pills and in most cases, I personally know... Is there anything we can do, to try to help people diffuse that?
Christine: Absolutely! Some people are fine with pills and they can take them. But I always say, we are born knowing how to sleep. Nature is doing everything it can in order for mammals to sleep. We're actually the only mammal in the world that is consciously sleep depriving themselves.
Amanda Quinn: That is an interesting fact.
Christine: Exactly. So I always say it's not because you don't have enough sleeping pills in your bloodstream that you are not sleeping. That is not the answer. For some people that's fine. They can do whatever they want to. But for those, who don't want to rely on sleeping pills and have the monkey mind, diffusing stress during the day is a big one. The second thing is: Look at sleep like a person. Sleep is not like an on and off switch. It needs a little bit of preparation. For some people their sleep is really easy going and it's going to settle down in whatever situation they are in. For other people their sleep is a little bit more high maintenance; it needs a little bit more of a ritual, in order to feel welcomed. If you're already stressed, it's not going to feel welcome. It's going to be a lot more difficult. When I meet those people, their relationship is really strained. When sleep isn't there, when you lie down and you feel the circus coming into your head; most of the time people know there's no way they are going to fall asleep now or there's no way they are going to fall back asleep now.
Then don't even try. If you're lying down still, trying to fall back asleep, you're going to get anxious. You're going to get angry, you are going to get frustrated. None of these situations, none of these feelings are helpful. I always tell them to get up and do something that they like doing. That could be crossword puzzles, it could be cleaning, it could be folding laundry, or it could be a vision board, which I really like. I do that with a lot of clients. I ask them to buy magazines of topics that they like and just create a vision board, whenever they are awake. Cut out pieces and stick them on that vision board and it's just leaving them on a positive note. When sleep is back, they're going to feel it. They're going to start yawning, they're going to start feeling naturally tired. That's when you can have a second try.
Those are a couple of things that I really recommend. Reading a book. Something that's interesting but maybe not the most interesting thing in the world and can be a little bit boring. Those are a couple of strategies. Don't stay there. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and on sleep either, because none of these will help.
Amanda Quinn: Yeah. I was gonna say, I've even seen in myself, when you're laying in bed and you're like, 'oh my gosh, I'm so tired, but I just can't fall asleep and then you start getting stuck in that thought of 'I'm never going to fall asleep' and then you look at the clock and think, 'if I fall asleep now, I'll get 5-6 hours' and then you start breaking it down and it becomes such an obsessive thought. You become so stressed about it. I've had that anger feeling and everything else. 'Why can't I sleep? I need to sleep'. You start getting so anxious, that you get worked up. You are absolutely right! It just never happens in those moments. You really have to learn to sort of calm down and relax into it. My biggest thing is, when my husband hits the pillow, he's asleep! He literally is snoring within one minute. I don't have problems sleeping, but it's just one of those things, where I'm always so envious and I get jealous/ angry. He is sleeping... why can't I?
Christine: Oh yeah, absolutely. When that happens, just remember that even if you're exhausted, you will still be able to function. You won't be functioning to your top potential, but you will be okay.
So even if you have a really bad night's sleep, you've had that before and you managed to trooper through. Don't put the weight of the world on the shoulders of that one night. It's going to be fine. You will survive. The other thing is, it's very similar to your situation. My husband falls asleep a lot quicker than I do. I need 15-20 minutes. Not a long time, but he starts snoring during his first sleep cycle. I always have to fall asleep with listening to something. I always listen to podcasts or audiobooks and it takes me a year to finish one, because I only listen to three minutes and I fall asleep. That's something that I do, for example, in order not to get angry at his snoring.
Amanda Quinn: Yes, not just be there laying in envy and staring at him. Now, I'm personally curious about this. Being a new mom and she's a toddler now. She's sleeping a lot better, which is great. But for anyone who's listening right now and they're like maybe a new mom or they have a younger child who is not sleeping and they're feeling really stressed, because they're completely sleep deprived and/ or their sleep patterns are all over the place. What do you suggest to them in order to feel a little bit better about this? It can be really overwhelming; that feeling of 'am I ever going to sleep again?'
Christine: You will. I think you will sleep again.
It's a very tricky one. I start with baby sleep consulting and I stopped, because it's tough! I mean, it's a super personal thing and my number one advice would be, you have to do what is right for you. Whether you have people telling you, you need to be firm and your insides are screaming, 'no, I don't want to!' Or whether you are told you have to co-sleep or you have to go with the flow and your insides are screaming, 'no, I actually want some structures and I want to put an end to this!' There's no right or wrong here. Everything works. It's really up to you and what your integrity tells you is right in order to do. If you decide that you can do it a little bit longer, you will be able to do it longer.
Don't get pressurized into anything. But, if you do feel that you are close to cracking and that your parenting is severely affected by this. That your health is severely affected by this and your relationship. Then do get some help! Find someone, who resonates with you. You can take it step by step, starting with sleep hygiene for kids and then if you need to do more, like a sleep training program, then do that, if you want to. Super important to me. So the option is always there. There are so many baby sleep consultants out there. I do think that you have to be in integrity with yourself in order to take that decision.
Amanda Quinn: I heard from someone and they're not a totally reputable source; aka my husband. He told me this. So I don't know if it's fact or fiction. So I'm asking you, because I'm curious. He told me once that if you miss out on sleep, I'm talking obviously during the newborn phase, my sleep was like crazy. It's all over the place. I was lucky my daughter, she slept like a teenager. She likes to sleep for 12 hours. So I'm very fortunate and anyone listening, don't be mad at me! He told me before that if you miss out, say one night you get four hours of sleep instead of eight hours sleep. For example, if you've missed that four hours of sleep and then the next night you try to sleep like 12 hours. It doesn't actually make up four. It's like somehow it's only like an hour. Even if you oversleep by an extra three hours, trying to catch up; it's only allowing you to catch up one hour each time. Again, not reputable. That's why I'm asking. How does it work?
Christine: It is a tricky one. It is true and it isn't.Here's the thing. When you wake up in the morning and you had a great night's sleep, you can imagine that you have an empty backpack and as you go through the day, the backpack is basically filling up with bricks and then at nighttime, the job that sleep has is to basically take those bricks out. So if you don't sleep enough, you will wake up with a couple of bricks still in there, because sleep wasn't able to finish its job and that's what we call sleep debt. Now, when you don't get enough sleep, there are things that sleep can't finish, like hormone imbalancing or if you have a little fisher or something that needs to be repaired that might not have been done; then those things are going to stay. So when you catch up on sleep debt, which you can do, so you can get your backpack empty again. Actually you can do that very quickly. Then your hormones will rebalance and everything will go back into its place; but any damage that has happened is going to stay. Your sleep is going to repair it. Tried to repair it again, but it will only be able to repair it to some extent. It won't be able to completely do it as if it had it done in the first place. So that's why it's true and it's not true. You can easily catch up on sleep debt. There was a radio DJ in the 80's, who tried to get into the Guinness Book of Records and sleep deprived himself for numerous days. He was paranoid and had all kinds of symptoms, hallucinations, and lot of different other symptoms. It took him only 24 hours of sleep and everything was back to normal. The damage is still there. It recalibrates, but anything that has been severely damaged during the time, is going to stay that way. So that's why it's a yes and no.
Amanda Quinn: Got It! Okay, good! Well thank you for clarifying it for me. I appreciate it. I just never knew if he was on top of it or not.
Now, I know that you do have to go, so we are going to wrap this up. But I'd love to know, just for our listeners out there, two quick things. Number one: Could share with us any other tips that you might have to getting a restful sleep any concrete things that somebody could do today to start getting a really good restful sleep and Number two: When would you recommend to somebody that they should see an expert? I think that's a really important step people need to understand. If there's some sort of a sign that it is time you may want to see somebody.
Christine: Yes. I think that's two categories. There are those who consciously sacrifice sleep in a way, that just not enough hours in the day; where I think it's really important to get more help with someone who can help you organize vs. those who really try. Who have a great nutrition or have a great sleep routine and who just hear that everything's okay by everyone, but still can't sleep. Those are my people and those other ones that I love to help. For the others; try to have an alarm and set it an hour before you want to go to sleep so that, you know, I still have an hour which is going to help me to get enough done, but it's not stressful. It's not like those last five minutes, where you need to get everything done, but you have to go to bed, because otherwise you won't get your eight hours of sleep. That's a whole other topic, by the way. I find that having that timer and knowing, okay, I still have an hour, which is leaving me more than enough time to finish my stuff or get it prepared to pick it up the next day, is really something that is relaxing me and it gives me enough time to prepare to go to bed.
Amanda Quinn: Great! That's a great idea for sure. Okay, perfect. Christine, thank you so much for sharing this information with all of our listeners. I truly appreciate your time. I really appreciate all these tips and helping everyone learn how to sleep like a boss. Why don't you share with everyone how, if they want to learn more about you or if they want to get in touch with you to learn about your program and your process, how to do that? Where can they find it?
Christine: Sure. The easiest thing is to go to my website, which is sleeplikeaboss.com and they can reach me through the contact form or you can always just send me an email to my personal email address. That is firstname.lastname@example.org. That's where you get to talk to me straight away. I always invite people who are like, 'okay, this is exactly what I need' to shoot me an email and tell me that you heard me on the podcast here and we'll get talking.
Amanda Quinn: Perfect. Thank you again so much and of course everyone listening, thank you for listening and if you want to check out any more information about us as well, check us out at fitchicksacademy.com, where we have our up code certifications for our fitness and nutrition, as well as our holistic nutrition weight loss coach. All right! Thank you again and I will talk with you soon. Have a wonderful day.
Christine: Thank you. Bye!
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