Reasons Why You Aren’t Sleeping + Tips To Combat Sleep Issues

Sleep is so important for overall wellbeing and optimal health. If you are struggling to fall or stay asleep it is so important to look at a number of factors before running to things like melatonin supplements or other highly marketed sleep aids. I used to work in corporate, you know, the type of job where I had two phones and worked with colleagues on every continent. Basically I was always on call. I know what lack of sleep looks and feels like. I know what it’s like to live a life where you are balancing between “should I have that fourth cup of coffee?” and “I won’t make it through my meeting without another cup of coffee”. I think most of us know that needing sleep is common sense. We as humans actually can’t properly function mentally and physically without it. The problem is that it takes us a long time before we actually realize that we have a sleep issue. Its after weeks of neck pains from tossing and turning, the bags under our eyes, needing another cup of coffee during the day even though our typical is 1 or 2, having irritability towards family members and sudden onset of anxiety. The results can look different for everyone. That is why it’s so important to manage your overall health in order to prevent any sleep disruptions.

Being healthy isn’t about changing your patterns after you discover a negative – it’s about already having positive measures in place to prevent any negative from occurring. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hardships or issues on the road to deal with. It just means there will be less and you will already have the ability to deal with them because you have the foundation to deal with them.

Let’s talk sleep health and why sleep is so important:

  1. Sleep allows our internal organs rest and recovery, Tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis primarily occur during your sleep.
  2. Your hormones that help regulate appetite, stress, growth, and metabolism are released during sleep
  3. Memory consolidation occurs during sleep. This allows for storage of information like from learning something new.
  4. Proper sleep strengthens your immune system
  5. Gives you increased energy for daily activities
  6. Improves your mood and helps with reducing anxiety/ mental exhaustion

How does lack of sleep affect you?

  1. Weight gain
  2. Increased risk for chronic diseases
  3. Increased risk of accidents or injury
  4. Reduced cognitive function
  5. Increased anxiety

Here are a few example of why you may not be sleeping your best!


Your bedroom should be a peaceful space that makes you feel your utmost relaxed and safe. Things you should avoid: clutter, electronics before bed, reduce exposure to lights. I love to use my Hatch Restore for both the soothing sounds and for the light.  I use the red light because red light’s wavelength stimulates the production of melatonin naturally. I also recommend an essential oil diffuser with sleep promoting oils to help you relax. Using clean and high quality is so important for both your health but also your pets and children health. A lot of essential oils aren’t natural and are really just fragrance which can be really harmful. I recommend Vitruvi Stone Diffuser and their line of essential oils. If you aren’t loving your sleep space it may be translating into poor sleep quality. Small changes can have a huge impact, new bedding is a small change that can be made that could make the world of difference. Ever wonder why you sleep so sleep in those luxe hotel sheets? Well because they are big and soft and feel like a cloud. Who doesn’t want to sleep in a cloud? I love Parachute Bedding .


Stress is hardwired in us, it’s a natural reaction to life events. Of course you want to stress when you see a bear because you want fight or flight to kick in. This issue lies when your body can’t distinguish between the bear and your intense work-load at the office. It is important to have methods of coping with your stresses. Those look different for everyone but one method I recommend to clients is starting a meditation practice. Meditation has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and stress. I myself suffered from PTSD in my early 20’s and anxiety. Starting a meditation practice really helped me calm my mind and give way for more creativity, and give me clarity.

Other methods are movement, baths, reading a good book to take your mind somewhere else, getting into nature and breathing techniques. It is amazing what a walk outside can do for your mental health. I also want to chat about stress in terms of societal pressures. Social media gives us this idea that being busy is “cool” having a full agenda means you are living a fulfilling life, and that prioritizing work over health is okay. I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s not okay to allow your body to be in a state of constant stress. Not only for sleep but for your health overall. It’s important to be able to distinguish between work and life. If you are feeling stressed it is important to recognize that and have measures in place to deal with it. Take a moment to ask yourself what brings you the most joy? That may be your answer in figuring out what would best help you deal with stresses in your life.

Lack of Movement

If I told 30 minutes a day of movement could improve your overall quality of live exponentially would you do it? There are 24 hours in a day, most Netflix series episodes are 45 minutes long. Moving your body for 30 min a day is not only easy but so important. The benefits are endless and could help greatly with stress levels as well as sleep.

I think a lot of the issue is that we are under the impression that when we see other people working out on social media that means we should be doing what they are doing. I want you to take a second ask think about what you love to do in regards to movement. I love the ocean so my favorite thing is to take a walk on the beach. Maybe for you its a high energy class, spin with friends, a walk in your neighborhood, a walk to your local cafe for your morning cup, pilates in the comfort of your own home, or lifting weights to build muscle. Whatever it is do it for 30 minutes a day for a week – see how you feel. Combine that with healthy eating habits and compound that the next week with adding some time to it. Now you’re up to 45 min a day of movement. Keep doing that until you are comfortable with YOUR PERSONAL pace.

Movement doesn’t have to be hours at the gym. It’s whatever makes you and your body happy. For me I love to follow a not so schedule, schedule. I love starting my Monday off with a walk, Tuesday for some pilates or yoga, Wednesday for some spin/ cardio, Thursday for some lifting, Friday for slow movements and mind body connection with yoga and Saturday for a fun class somewhere to try something different. Sundays depend but I typically attend the farmers market on Sunday which allows for plenty of walking. It took me a long time to find my rhythm and it may take you some time too but it’s not a race to get there. Small steps give you more sustainable lifestyle changes that you’ll want to stick with.

Daily Rhythms

Our brains are full of systems and signals that allows our brains to regulate in order for us to live our best lives. Having systems in place can benefit so much with helping our brain work as they should.

Here are some methods to consider

  • Create a bedtime routine – go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends) this will put your body into a healthy rhythm.
  • Experiment with evening activities that feel refreshing and restorative. Examples here can be yoga, stretching, meditation again, drinking a warm herbal tea, intimacy with your partner. All can be very relaxing.
  • Tracking your sleep habits. Tracking can be so benefits in figuring out if there are specific things you are doing, eating, drinking that can be relative to your sleep deprivation. You can also purchase devices that can be worn that will track breathing while sleeping, movement and your heart rate. This can actually give you a lot of insight.
  • Do something to help with your “busy brain”. This is a big issue for me personally – I have constant racing thoughts but they seem to always come through the most when I shut my eyes. I find that journalling before bed and getting all my thoughts out really helps. Recapping the day then making a to-do list for the following day gives me a chance to get everything on paper so I can clear my brain from thinking about it when I am ready to actually sleep.

I love using my Osea Vagus Oil before bed and the pillow spray is amazing as well.

High Sugar Intake

Sugar is such an addictive substance so I don’t take this topic lightly when speaking about it. I have seen individuals go through withdrawals similar if not exactly like heroin withdrawals. The problem is that most people don’t even realize how addicted to sugar they are until they go to attempt to eat less of it and feel the results. When it comes to sleep sugar can have a massive affect on your quality. When you blood sugar levels are high your kidneys will compensate for that by excreting it from your system. This will cause trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night disrupting your sleep.

Sugar has also been linked to slow-wave sleep. This sleep stage is essential for the body’s physical restoration and healing. It also is important for maintaining healthy metabolism and immune function. I’m not telling you to cut out sugars all together. In this instance it’s important to attempt to avoid sugars before bed.

Too Much Caffeine 

I love coffee – seriously. If it’s working for you and not causing any issues then stick with it but if you are struggling with poor sleep then caffeine is one of the first things I discuss with clients. Like sugars, caffeine is one of those things that you don’t actually realize how much you are actually drinking until it’s REALLY too much. Suddenly you are up all night wired wondering if now would be a good time to rearrange the furniture (yes that was a personal example). If you are struggling with sleep my professional opinion would be to not drink coffee for a few days – a few weeks to allow your body a break. Then to add caffeine back slowly so you can prohibit any disruptions again.

If you are needing that afternoon coffee to get over the slump of the day I suggest trying matcha which has a slower release of caffeine, basically jitter free. I love Pique Tea’s Sun Goddess Matcha. You can also go for decaf because a lot of the time your body is just craving the taste. Coffee actually has some amazing health benefits but not when a pound of sugar and 3/4 of it is creamer so it’s important to be just as conscientious about what’s in your coffee as you are about how much of it you are drinking.

Bonus Tip:

Sleep is also really important to Sakara Life and they are currently offering curated meal programs that help with your sleep. The meal programs are 3 weeks long but come with some amazing goodies like the Vagus product from Osea I mentioned, a sleep mask, informative sleep classes brought to you by experts in the field, a book and so much more. You can use code XOCORTNEY for money off your order. Check out Sakara to learn more!

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As a holistic health coach who specializes in gut related issues I spend a lot of time researching, reading and listening to experts in the space on this topic. Digestive health based research is also changing and evolving as the data continues to grow. This is amazing news because the more data there is the more we can simplify that into tangible items that you can use on your journey to mastering your gut health.

When I meet with a client and their issues is digestive based there are a range of questions I will ask to better understand exactly what has been going on and how long. A lot of the time people don’t realize they have an issue until it starts showing up for them in a physical manner — upset stomachs, bowel issues, acid reflux, etc. By taking the time to reflect on even the smallest moments that could have culminated into an issue is so important.

If you are having GI issues here are my fool proof ways elevate your digestive well being in a holistic way:

Root Cause

This may sound redundant especially in the world of social media. You have likely heard this a multitude of times but I think its really important to highlight again just in case. While adopting the lifestyle changes I am highlighting next is beneficial, addressing the root cause of digestive issues is vital. Consider consulting with a healthcare professional to investigate underlying factors such as food allergies, infections, or gastrointestinal disorders. Understanding and addressing the root cause will contribute to more effective and sustainable improvements in gut health.

One example I can give you from life experience is actually my husband, he was suffering from extreme acne on his face along with digestive upset. He was never the healthiest eater before we got together but with health and wellness being a focal point in our lives now he was struggling to understand why despite having a balanced diet, moving his body and using proper skincare products he was still suffering. For months I suggested he remove gums (like those found in nut based milks) from his diet. He just would not budge on it. For so long I would suggest the change and he would say “but I just cant give up my creamer.” One day we were driving in the car and he was complaining and I finally gave him an ear full, lovingly lol, telling him he has to make the change. We got home and he threw away his favorite almond milk creamer – low and behold a week later he was acne free and major digestive upset had dissolved. There are still triggers for him but I am telling you this to showcase an example of if you want to fix an issue you have to be willing to remove something even if you love it. That may be the root issue, even if you don’t want to believe it.

Prioritize Fiber-Rich Foods

Including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet is essential. Fiber supports a healthy gut by promoting regular bowel movements and providing a source of nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. It is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that the body cannot fully digest. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.

  1. Soluble Fiber:
    • Function: Dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance.
    • Benefits:
      • Cholesterol Regulation: Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol molecules and removing them from the body.
      • Blood Sugar Control: It slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
      • Weight Management: Soluble fiber can contribute to a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  2. Insoluble Fiber:
    • Function: Does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool.
    • Benefits:
      • Digestive Regularity: Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and preventing constipation.
      • Colon Health: It can contribute to a healthy colon by supporting the movement of material through the digestive system.

Why Fiber is Important for Digestive Health:

  1. Promotes Regular Bowel Movements:
    • Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. This helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
  2. Supports a Healthy Gut Microbiome:
    • Fiber serves as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining gut health and supporting the immune system.
  3. Prevents Diverticular Disease:
    • Adequate fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of developing diverticular disease, a condition characterized by the formation of small pouches in the colon.
  4. Manages Weight:
    • High-fiber foods are often nutrient-dense and can contribute to a feeling of fullness. This can be beneficial for weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  5. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels:
    • Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.
  6. Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
    • Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol molecules and helps remove them from the body, contributing to lower blood cholesterol levels.

To incorporate more fiber into your diet, focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Gradually increasing fiber intake and staying well-hydrated can help your digestive system adjust and function optimally. It’s essential to note that a well-rounded diet with a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber sources is ideal for reaping the full range of benefits for digestive health.

Probiotics and Fermented Foods

Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet. These foods introduce beneficial bacteria to the gut, supporting a balanced microbial environment.

Function of Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms, primarily beneficial bacteria, that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. These microorganisms help maintain a balanced and healthy gut microbiome.

Benefits of Probiotics:

Balancing Gut Microbiota: Probiotics contribute to the balance of the gut microbiota by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms.

Immune System Support: A significant portion of the immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics play a role in supporting immune function and defending against harmful pathogens.

Sources of Probiotics: Probiotics can be obtained from supplements or naturally through fermented foods. Common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Function of Fermented Foods: Fermented foods undergo a process of lactofermentation, where natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food, creating lactic acid. This process not only preserves the food but also enhances its nutritional value and introduces beneficial bacteria.

Benefits of Fermented Foods:

Increased Nutrient Bioavailability: Fermentation can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients, making them easier for the body to absorb.

Improved Digestibility: The fermentation process breaks down certain compounds that may be difficult to digest, making the food more easily digestible.

Sources of Fermented Foods: Fermented foods are diverse and include options such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha. Including a variety of these foods in your diet ensures exposure to different strains of beneficial bacteria.

Why Probiotics and Fermented Foods are Important for Digestive Health:

  1. Maintains Gut Microbial Balance: Probiotics contribute to a balanced gut microbiome, preventing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and promoting the growth of beneficial ones.
  2. Supports Digestive Function: Beneficial bacteria in the gut aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also help break down certain substances that the body may struggle to digest on its own.
  3. Enhances Immune Response: Probiotics play a crucial role in supporting the immune system, which is closely intertwined with the health of the gut. A well-balanced gut microbiome contributes to a robust immune response.
  4. Potential for Mental Health Benefits: There is emerging research suggesting a connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Probiotics may play a role in supporting mental health and well-being.
  5. Prevention of Gastrointestinal Disorders: Regular consumption of probiotics and fermented foods is associated with a reduced risk of certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Incorporating a variety of probiotic-rich foods and fermented options into your diet provides a diverse array of beneficial bacteria, contributing to the overall health and functionality of your digestive system. As with any dietary changes, it’s advisable to introduce these foods gradually, especially if you are not accustomed to them, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns.

Hydration is Key

Ensuring you drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day is crucial. Proper hydration helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines and supports the overall digestive process.

Mindful Eating Practices

Adopting mindful eating practices, such as eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly, promotes proper digestion. Being present during meals aids in nutrient absorption and overall digestive well-being.

  1. Chewing and Digestion: Mindful eating involves paying close attention to the act of chewing. Thoroughly chewing food breaks it down into smaller particles, easing the digestive process. This not only supports nutrient absorption in the small intestine but also reduces the strain on the stomach.
  2. Connection to Satiety: Mindful eating encourages an awareness of hunger and fullness cues. By eating slowly and savoring each bite, individuals are more likely to recognize feelings of fullness, preventing overeating and promoting weight management.
  3. Stress Reduction: Eating mindfully involves being present and attentive to the sensory experience of eating. This practice can help alleviate stress, as it shifts focus away from external stressors and fosters a calming connection with food.
  4. Improved Nutrient Absorption: Proper digestion begins in the mouth, where enzymes in saliva start breaking down carbohydrates. Mindful chewing aids in the initial stages of digestion, allowing for better nutrient absorption downstream in the digestive tract.
  5. Enhanced Digestive Enzyme Release: Mindful eating stimulates the release of digestive enzymes. As the senses engage with the food, the body anticipates digestion, leading to the secretion of enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of macronutrients.
  6. Reduction of Gastrointestinal Discomfort: Eating too quickly or while stressed can contribute to gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating and indigestion. Mindful eating reduces the likelihood of swallowing air and minimizes the strain on the digestive system.
  7. Cultivation of Gratitude: Mindful eating encourages a sense of gratitude for the food being consumed. This positive mindset can impact digestion by promoting a relaxed state, allowing the body to more effectively process and assimilate nutrients.
  8. Mind-Body Connection: Being present during meals fosters a strong mind-body connection. This connection is vital for optimal digestion, as it allows the brain to send appropriate signals to the digestive organs, optimizing the release of digestive juices.
  9. Prevention of Emotional Eating: Mindful eating helps individuals distinguish between physical hunger and emotional triggers for eating. This awareness reduces the likelihood of consuming food as a response to stress, boredom, or other non-physical cues.
  10. Promotion of Healthy Food Choices: Mindful eating encourages conscious food choices by emphasizing the importance of savoring and enjoying each bite. This mindfulness can lead to a greater appreciation for nutrient-dense foods, supporting overall health.

Adopting mindful eating practices involves cultivating a more intentional and aware relationship with food. By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can positively impact digestion, promote optimal nutrient absorption, and foster a healthier relationship with the act of eating. Whether practicing alone or with others, the benefits of mindful eating extend beyond the physical act of consuming food, encompassing mental and emotional well-being.

Limit Processed Foods and Sugar

Reduce the intake of highly processed foods and added sugars in your diet. These substances can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and contribute to inflammation in the digestive tract.

Identify Food Sensitivities

Pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods and identify and eliminate potential triggers, such as gluten or dairy. This can help reduce inflammation and promote healing in the digestive system.

Manage Stress Levels

Incorporate stress-reducing techniques like meditation or deep breathing into your daily routine. Chronic stress can negatively impact digestion, making stress management crucial for gut health.

Regular Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity to support overall health, including digestive function. Exercise helps stimulate bowel movements and contributes to a healthy gut environment.

Adequate Sleep

Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep is essential for overall well-being, including the repair and maintenance of the digestive system.

Comprehensive Testing

Seeking professional guidance through comprehensive testing is a pivotal step in understanding and optimizing your digestive health. Holistic lifestyle testing, conducted by qualified healthcare professionals, involves a thorough examination of various factors, such as nutrient levels, food sensitivities, hormonal balance, and gut microbiome composition. Holistic testing provides personalized insights into your body’s unique needs and challenges. It can uncover specific dietary and lifestyle factors that may be impacting your digestive system, allowing for targeted interventions.

Professionals can identify underlying issues that might contribute to digestive discomfort, such as nutrient deficiencies, imbalances in gut bacteria, or inflammation. Addressing these root causes is essential for long-term digestive health. Holistic testing goes beyond one-size-fits-all approaches, offering tailored lifestyle recommendations based on your individual results. This may include dietary modifications, stress management techniques, and personalized exercise plans.

Holistic lifestyle testing facilitates the development of a long-term wellness strategy. By addressing the root causes of digestive issues and implementing sustainable lifestyle changes, you can promote enduring digestive health and overall well-being.

Incorporating comprehensive testing into your approach to digestive well-being offers a holistic and individualized perspective. By working with healthcare professionals, you gain valuable insights that guide targeted interventions, ultimately leading to a more resilient and balanced digestive system.

I hope this helps each of you learn more about your digestive health and methods to realign yours! Coaching programs are always available on a customizable basis. Learn more about my coaching packages here! And don’t forget to follow on IG for all the wellness content.

Did you know that dry brushing is actually a 5,000 year old Ayurveda practice that is used to release excess toxins from the lymphatic system? The ancient Egyptians also used dry brushing as a way to exfoliate their skin. Before we get into the benefits of dry brushing and how you can add this into your wellness routine, let’s talk about lymphatic drainage.

If you don’t know your lymphatic system is responsible for keeping your body fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections. Lymphatic (lim-FAT-ik) vessels, tissues, organs, and glands work together to drain a watery fluid called lymph from throughout the body. You can support this system by staying hydrated, moving your body, eating a balanced diet and lymphatic massage. One of my personal favorite methods is dry brushing because it not only supports your lymphatic system but your skin as well. I also see it as a meditative self-care practice since it allows me to take a moment out for myself once a week to focus on myself. I will typically dry brush in combination to my self tan routine since the brush is amazing at exfoliating and removing your old tan.

So what are the benefits?

Dry brushing helps remove dead skin cells and unclogs pores – leaving skin feeling softer and smoother.

The act of massage is said to help boost circulation and stimulate your lymphatic system.

Your moisturizer will work better because you will have brushed away the outermost dead skin cells.

It helps scrub off old fake tan, so you can speed through the dreaded patchy stage.

Increases circulation

Detoxification through lymphatic release

May help in the digestive process

May give you a boost of energy

May improve the appearance of cellulite

You may be wondering – well how often do I do it and how? I personally find that 1-2 times a week accompanied by a movement routine, staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet is the best schedule for me. There are many guides online on the correct method on doing your dry brushing. I use the guide found in my favorite lymphatic book: Book of Lymph for tips and tricks. I focus on always moving toward my heart and then circular motions on my belly for digestive benefits.

I always follow up my dry brushing with OSEA Undaria Algae Body Oil they also carry a full set that includes an amazing dry brush (the one I have): Full Set. You can also find dry brushes like this one on Amazon for a low-cost option as well as this gorgeous one from The Skinny Confidential.

Are you going to add dry brushing into your routine? Let me know!

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