The Sleep Revolution: Arianna and I are on the same page!

sleep revolutionI had an incredible day on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. I had the opportunity to attend Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution book signing hosted by the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley. Sheryl Sandberg casually interviewed Arianna about her story and her new book –The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life one night at a time.

As a 40+ year old woman, I really don’t have too many role models in my life, except for my Mother, sisters, Oprah, and Arianna Huffington. Arianna’s story resonates with me because I also worked hard and persevered to do things that inspire me. I admire Arianna in many different ways. She is an elegant lady who projects warmth and class. I also admire her tenacity to stay relevant in such a competitive and judgmental society. She realizes that she can’t be a superwoman 24/7 and I do too!

Arianna is a self proclaimed “sleep evangelist” who is publicly more passionate about sleep than Rumplestiltskin. According to her friends, you haven’t made it on Arianna’s good side if you haven’t gotten at least 7-8 hours of solid sleep a night.

I wished I had someone beating down my door, telling me all about the importance of sleep! Several years after the birth of my son, I came down with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. There are many symptoms, but my main one was insomnia. I was suffering from a bad thyroid, adrenal fatigue, and exhaustion. I thought I could handle everything and failed! I had to learn to schedule in my sleep and my naps……WHAT? Who naps??? Well, I do and so does Arianna! Power Naps, Catnaps, Snoozes, whatever you want to call it, you need it like you need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to nourish your body.

In Arianna’s book, she breaks down sleep into a basic guide to recharge your relationships, body, and mind. Backed by extensive scientific research, her book discusses our current sleep crisis, sleep disorders, dreams, co-sleeping, naps, and jetlag. Her helpful tools and campaign are simple, but not a whole lot of people are listening. I whole heartedly recommend Arianna’s book to ANYONE who has ever had less than a perfect night’s sleep.

I had the opportunity to briefly meet Arianna after her lecture. She signed my copy and I quickly asked her if I could give her my book: Relax a Bye Baby. As I pulled out my book, her green eyes got even wider, she thanked me for helping her with this movement, as she accepted my book. I must admit I was nervous and thought she could see my heart beating out of my chest, but for that brief moment in time with her, I felt the validation from her and I knew I needed to stay on track and keep the sleep dialogue going.

I wrote Relax a Bye Baby with the same intention as Arianna’s-to find the right way to unwind, relax, and reduce stress. Relax a Bye Baby was written and designed to teach children body relaxation in a fun and whimsical manner through repetition before bedtime. As a collective, it is important to emphasize the importance of sleep at all levels-infancy through adulthood.

Thank you Arianna Huffington for your message, charisma, and using your influence to change the world, one night at a time!

Repetition – If you first do not succeed try try again

I got a call from a friend who works with a mother of 5 children under 10 years of age. He told me: “Are you sitting down?”. Of course I said I was but who ever ‘sits down’ these days?

I could hear the excitement in his voice and was eager to hear what was next. He told me that this mother had trouble getting all of her kids down for bedtime. She decided to give Relax-a-bye Baby a try since nothing else really worked.

She was able to corral the children together for a moment and read the first page of the book. They were interested in the cover but by the time they got through the first page they were running around like they usually did before bed. She decided to give it another try the following night and committed to getting through the book even it took a month to do so.

sleep-meditation-for-kidsAfter 2 weeks, they were able to sit through the entire book, and were ready for bed. The children really liked the illustrations and the rhythm/rhyme flow, but most of all they were learning about body relaxation and what it means to relax. They were calm, attentive and surrendered to bedtime.

The Mother was so happy she had tears coming down when she told her story to my friend. She apologized for being emotional but she had tried everything to get her little ones settled for bed. I admire this woman because she didn’t give up, she didn’t feel sorry for her situation, she made a commitment to something and it paid off.

This mother is teaching her children about mindfulness and meditation at an early age so that they have some coping skills for their future. Meditation is a practice, if you don’t get it the first time or the 100th time, don’t give up and keep on trying.

These testimonials are sacred to me and they are the fuel that lights my fire. Thank you for everyone who has reviewed and written me about my book.

Until next time: Sweet Dreams!

 

2015 Mother’s Day Tribute

Mimi and MomMy Mother will be 86 years young in June and since Kindergarten, I have either handcrafted or purchased Mother’s Day cards for this special woman. I am lucky to have her alive, but words have never been enough to describe my feelings for her. It wasn’t always an easy relationship. She had her struggles throughout her life and I certainly have had mine. One thing for sure, that despite our 40 year age gap, I feel less like her daughter and more like a sister. This might sound odd but as a relationship evolves it starts to take on a different feel.

My mother was so different in “Mother-Mode” when I was younger. She yelled a lot and had this innate instinct to guide, protect, and discipline me so that I would learn from life’s experiences and survive. She taught me to meditate and like myself at a time when children weren’t very nice to me. Her famous advice comeback was, “That’s Normal” even when things didn’t seem that way. As I grew emotionally so did she, and she trusted me-a trust that I had to earn, and she softened her Mother-Mode mentality, yelled less, and we started to be friends.

As she aged and her health became compromised, our roles reversed. I looked after her health and affairs more closely, not once feeling burdened. When my father passed, I was the one holding her hand at night, I didn’t want her to feel alone. When my sister died before her time, we cried and consoled each other. Just being there together can be more powerful than words, cards, or material things. So this year, in addition to the card I bought at CVS – gotta keep up tradition – I wrote this to honor my Mother and Soul Sister. I love you!

 

Teenage Mantra Guided Meditation

relieve stress for teensMy family lives in Northern California, in the city of Palo Alto. Home to Stanford, and a handful of well-known start-up successes, such as HP and Facebook, it is a thriving, competitive, intelligent community. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in California and the schools are top notch.

Struck by the tragedy of multiple teenage suicides in the last year or so, I – and many Palo Alto parents – realized that this thriving, competitive community is putting a tremendous burden on our kids. The pressure to perform at 150% and do well at all things is literally, killing our kids.

Most kids, with their eye on going to Stanford, take multiple AP (Advanced Placement) classes, play sports and volunteer. They spend every waking hour of the day – and many at night – studying to meet the expectations of future colleges and current educators and parents. The lack of sleep could be a key contributor to physical anxiety, which can lead to serious depression. (I am not a doctor, this is simply my opinion and observation.)

I don’t want this for my son, E.J. when he gets older. My husband and I chose Palo Alto to raise him because of the great schools and multicultural community. It is a beautiful, vibrant place for any child to grow up, but not at the cost of one’s life.

While I can’t change the amount of pressure our teens either put upon themselves or is put upon them from others, I can and have done something that I hope will help them through it.

Written with love and care, I have recorded a guided meditation that I am giving away for free. I encourage people in our community, and in communities across the U.S. to download this recording and get it into the hands – and phones – of our teens and tweens. It’s a small step towards telling our kids that they are going to be ok. It’s a ten minute break where they can let it all go and just be.

Please help me spread the word! Share this with as many people as you can and let’s help our kids!

Click here to download your free copy of Teenage Mantra

The 2015 Meditation and Mindfulness Movement

clock stickerI came across a most inspiring story on January 1, 2015. NBC tonight showcased a Northern California Inner-City Middle School, which decided to incorporate transcendental meditation into the curriculum. Twice a day for 15 minutes students and teachers take time out of the busy day to meditate in complete silence. The only way the principal was able to do this was to extend the school day by 30 minutes. Some may say: “Isn’t that such a long day?” Well, on the contrary. Four years of research study suggests that these kids are not only more relaxed and prepared for school, but they feel safe, energized and less likely to be suspended for aggressive and poor behavior- in fact there were 79% fewer suspensions and a significant decrease in absences.

What if this program was implemented into all schools and districts-especially in High Schools where the competitive pressure to succeed with a high GPA is so great that kids are literally killing themselves? What if our households encouraged meditation and mindfulness? Well, it is possible to achieve this: one parent at a time, one child at a time, one teacher at a time & one school at a time.

We are in a meditation movement right now. It’s not just for yogi gurus, motivational speakers or hippies. Mindfulness workshops are popping up all over hospitals, junior colleges, libraries and within corporations. Meditation, mindfulness & yoga retreats are not just in wine countries or the mountains-they are within our communities. It’s time to embrace the powers and wonders of meditation-even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Consider this as a New Year’s Resolution, it’s doable, everyone in the family can do it together in the morning, weekends and/or at bedtime.

Let’s make 2015 a year to remember by staying present, focused and empowered by our mind, body and spirit!

Join me in this movement and Happy New Year!!!

Mimi Sommers

www.relaxabyebaby.com

Please enjoy the news clip: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/san-francisco-schools-transformed-power-meditation-n276301

Please pass the Tryptophan – oops, I mean the Turkey!

turkeyIt’s Thanksgiving time again and many households will be feasting on good food and gratitude. You ever wonder why you feel like you need a stretcher after eating your thanksgiving meal? It’s not only because you have stretched your stomach and innards to the max, it’s because of a chemical called Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which can stabilize your mood and make you more relaxed. Serotonin is a chemical manufactured in the brain and the intestines. The majority of the body’s serotonin, can be found in the gastrointestinal tract. When you combine tryptophan with foods like turkey, poultry, complex carbohydrates and even alcohol-you get tired quickly. You see, “carb” loading allows the tryptophan to get into the bloodstream faster due to the increased insulin that is produced with a caloric meal.

One way to minimize this “coma” feeling is to eat slowly during your meal and have a Thanksgiving breakfast. This will keep your blood sugars stable and keep you from over eating. Another way to slow down the process is to have dialogue and discussion at the table. The Thanksgiving meal is an open forum for conversation and gratitude.

Enough with the scientific stuff, let’s talk sleep and relaxation. What if we were able to reach that level of satiety without the big meal once a year? What if we are able to regularly reach that with meditation and mindfulness? Well, we can! Research shows that even 5 minutes of meditation a day will lower blood pressure, release serotonin, reduce anxiety and make you feel rested, sleep well and stay relaxed.

So pass the Turkey or Tofurky! Enjoy your friends and family and think about adding just 5 minutes of meditation and/or gratitude. Not only will you feel more relaxed but you’ll sleep better too!

If you are looking for meditative ideas? Try the 5 minutes Relax-a-bye Baby Guided Meditation downloadable on Amazon.com or iTunes. http://www.amazon.com/Relax—Bye-Guided-Bedtime Meditation/dp/B00MSNCEYW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1417104538&sr=8-3&keywords=relax+a+bye+baby

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers,

 

Mimi Sommers

Trial and Error

This Mom’s Look at the Value of a Solid Routine!

clock stickerAs an only child, EJ likes to hang out with us. My husband and I are enjoying this time with him because we know that in the next 4-5 years we might lose that interpersonal connection with him. However, I run my household like a company, and we have set hours of work, breaks, fun, and downtime.

Downtime for EJ is after homework and dinner. Downtime for my husband is usually when he returns home from work. Downtime for me is usually after 9;00pm. During the week and between 8:00-9pm is the “critical hour”. You know that hour when you feel like it’s a mad dash to the finish line, hoping that within the hour your child/children will be off in slumber and you’ll get a few good hours to yourself! I dread interruptions like the phone or doorbell to ring; I want the lights dim and quiet in the house. The older I get the worse it gets; I am militant during the week at this hour. My primary focus is the bedtime routine and I pray that EJ is asleep by 9:00pm.

I like to think I am the honorary queen of Trial and Error: If at first I don’t succeed, I try, try, and try again. This story takes us to the bedroom. It’s not what you think; I’m talking about my son’s bedroom. Bedtime has been challenging for my 7 year old son. It’s not that he isn’t tired after a long day, he is! He just doesn’t want to miss out on any of the good stuff that happens after he goes to bed and will try anything and I mean ANYTHING to stay up. But, bedtime is bedtime!

baby sleeping on ruler 2Relax-a-bye Baby has definitely assisted with the bedtime rituals. EJ knows the routine like clockwork and likes it! I was desperate before I wrote the book last year, but this year it’s all about integrating the principles and repetition of body relaxation. Well, I got my glimpse of something magical just the other night in the bedroom. EJ took two big deep breaths, (not a yawn-there is a difference ya know) right after we turned the lights out! He usually yawns and that’s my signal that we are literally minutes away from slumber town. On this particular night, he deliberately took the breaths, straightened his legs out, and went to sleep on his own. I usually do the guided body relaxation meditation on demand, but this time he didn’t want it.

I knew that reading Relax-a-bye Baby and the guided meditation were working. He knew that a big deep breath is what his body needed at that moment. I am thrilled that he is learning to take care of his own relaxation needs one day at a time. I truly believe and have witnessed that through repetition, perseverance, and love, young children can adapt to a routine and deliberately add tools to their emotional toolbox for the present and into their futures.

It’s all about trial and error: be patient, try different techniques, and you never know when that little bit of magic may appear!

I’d like to hear your stories. Please send them to mimi@relaxabyebaby.com

Have a great weekend!

Mimi

 

P.S. Please check out the growing number of reviews!

Relax-A-Bye-Baby…Changing Bedtime, One Child At A Time

Can You Relate To This Bedtime Routine?

It’s 8 PM on a school night and the proverbial sounds of bedtime resonate from the walls of the house. “Ok, it’s time for bed, go potty, brush your teeth, and pick out a book to read”. These are the words that many parents repeat on a nightly basis, but kids just recognize them as muffled sounds or cues to resist bedtime.

It was a constant battle between my son, EJ and I. It really wasn’t a win or lose fight on my end, I just wanted him to get ready for bed. He thought it was a battle of the fittest, whoever caved lost. I used my reverse psychology super powers on him and sometimes that worked, but often his stubbornness and manipulation was just too much to handle. I really wanted him to somehow change his thinking about bedtime. I wanted him to see bedtime as the perfect time to unwind from his busy day and recharge for tomorrow.

Desperate and tired at 11 PM

One night last October, I was having a tough time settling him down. It was 8:30PM and he was full of energy, wiggling around and even though we read multiple bedtime books, talked about school, sang lullabies, I couldn’t get him to relax. At 11 PM, desperate and tired, I recalled a body relaxation technique my mother used to relax and reduce her anxiety. Could it work on a 6 year old? I decided to give it a try. We started with a couple of deep breaths and a big sigh when we exhaled, then went straight to the feet and worked our way up to the shoulders, neck and head. Taking time to relax each body part. In between the process, I repeated, “honor this moment-you worked hard all day, its time to rest and unwind, take another big breath in and let it ALL out”.

I also peppered in all of his wonderful qualities and attributes of the day. Who doesn’t want to hear praise before bed? By the time we got to the eyes, nose and mouth, he was fast asleep. This technique took a total of 10 minutes!! As you can imagine, I was relieved that my little wiggle worm had done his job, but now it was my turn to go to sleep. By the time I got to into bed, my husband was sound asleep and my two dogs were curled up snoring, I used the technique on myself and I too finally went to slumber town.

That “Relax Thing”

The next night, we did the same rituals, but this time we started the body scan at 8:30pm. Let’s just say, my little guy fell asleep by the time we got to the arms and elbows. By the third night, he asked me to do the “relax thingy”. That was when all my bells and whistles blew! I knew I had to share this with the rest of the desperate parents, caregivers and grandparents out there and that’s when the idea for my first book, Relax a bye Baby: A bedtime guide to get your little one relax and sleep tight took hold.

My intentions for this book are to honor bedtime and help children through simple exercises and repetition be able to calm themselves down for any time when they feel anxious or in distress. Imagine the impact this will have when they blossom into young adults and have some coping skills like this in their toolbox. My mission is to honor bedtime one child at a time.

Sweet Dreams!

You can pre-order the book on Amazon.com and have it by September 1, 2014.