A Professional Organizer’s 4 Best Tips for Your Cleanest Year Ever

At the start of the year, like clockwork, I feel a sudden impulse to get organized. There’s a desire to streamline everything before the madness of work and life take over once again. Plus, there’s something weirdly satisfying about a Kondo-level closet, a carefully edited coffee table, and starting the week meal prepped. But one space that often gets neglected is the one that’s purely for you: the bedroom. So today, we turn to a master of living intentionally, Shira Gill to not only share her top bedroom organization ideas, but how to elevate the start to every day.

An organization expert, lifestyle blogger, and author of two books, Gill transforms the action of getting rid of clutter into an almost meditative act of self-care. Seemingly endless scientific studies have found a correlation between a clean space and productivity (plus: less stress and better sleep). But to the Berkeley, California-based mother, it’s not just about getting rid of stuff, it’s about empowering yourself in your space.

Featured image from our interview with Remi Ishizuka.

Game-Changing Bedroom Organization Ideas

Before we dive into an exclusive excerpt from Gill’s book, here’s an overview of the bedroom organization ideas that keep our spaces clean—and, in turn, our energy calm.

  • Consider visual and mental clutter. It’s not only what you see, but also how clutter may impact you mentally and even emotionally. Are there piles of papers keeping you from using your desk productively? Sort them out. Do you have tons of unread books stacked up on your nightstand? Select one read you’ll reach for each night. By working through our clutter, we can use our space in a more aligned and productive way.
  • Organize around your routine. Are there pieces of furniture in your bedroom that are part of your everyday? Give them priority. If there are other items that belong to your weekly or monthly routines, they don’t need to be within reach. For example, keep the hamper in your closet, as you likely only do laundry on a weekly basis.
  • Purchase storage furniture. We love stylish and functional pieces. Opt for storage furniture (such as a headboard, under-bed storage, or a mirror) that lets you stow away the clutter for a streamlined space.
  • Create an open closet. You’ve likely seen many style creators showcase their outfits with the help of a portable clothing rack. If you have the space, take their cue and create one of your own. This allows you to lay out all your outfits for the week, so you’re not constantly rifling through your entire closet.

Ahead, discover Gill’s bedroom organization ideas to give your most intimate space the dreamy, mood-lifting atmosphere it deserves. She outlines a few easy habit shifts, as well as five things to banish from your bedroom forever. (Hint: don’t neglect your morning coffee mug.) Prepare to wake up in your own personal sanctuary.

Shira Gill

Shira Gill is a globally recognized home-organizing expert, bestselling author, and speaker. Shira is the author of Minimalista and Organized Living, and has been featured in 100+ print and media outlets including Vogue, Dwell, Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Domino, Forbes, Goop, Harper’s Bazaar, HGTV, Today, InStyle, Parents, Real Simple, and The New York Times.

Nightstand bedroom organization ideas.

Tip #1: Don’t Put It Down; Put It Away

I think of clutter simply as delayed action or decision-making. If you have a pile of clean laundry on a chair in your bedroom, it just means you haven’t yet folded it or put it away. If you have a massive stack of dust-covered books on the floor, it just means you forgot to put them back on the bookshelf in the living room. Start noticing when you walk into your home if you dump things on any available surface. Do you empty your bag or pockets? Do you toss and run? Awareness of your current habits is always the first step.

When you enter your bedroom today, pay attention. If you have something in your hands, think twice before you put it down. Practice putting every item you bring into your bedroom back in its designated home instead of dumping or dropping it on any convenient surface. This may sound like a stretch, but once you start getting the hang of this habit, it can feel like a moving meditation. Treating your belongings and your space with respect feels good, and waking up to a space that feels curated and cared for is dreamy.

Closet bedroom organization ideas.

Tip #2: Put Your Clothes Away

Want to know a secret from the inside? Most people don’t put their clothing away at the end of the day. Putting your clothes away takes about two minutes or less, and I promise it is well worth the effort. This little tidying effort each night will have a massive compound effect. Either you’ll be facing massive piles of clothing when you wake up, or you’ll have a clean and comforting space. Which would you prefer?

Tonight, when you get ready to go to bed, decide which clothes are dirty and which can be put away. I know that many of you have concocted a new category composed of “half-clean, half-dirty clothes” that you’re not sure what to do with. Warning: This kind of gray-area thinking will get you nowhere fast. If an item is clean enough for you to wear again, it’s clean. If it’s visibly dirty or soiled, let’s call it dirty! Deal?

Toss the dirty items into your laundry bin; hang or fold the ones that can be worn again and return them to your dresser or closet. If you have a watch or jewelry or other accessories, make sure to put them back in their designated homes. This seems fairly simple and obvious, but I promise that the payoff will be profound.

Woman making bed.

Tip #3: Relocate and Reset

Bedrooms do tend to be a magnet for clutter, and it’s not uncommon for bills or mail, magazines, coffee cups, and breakfast dishes to accumulate. Take a few minutes during your day, or before you turn in for bed, to relocate the random items and reset the space to its former glory. Remember the rules and guidelines you created and stick with them. What is your bedroom for? How do you want it to feel? I’m guessing dirty dishes and work papers don’t create the mood you’re going for.

Practice the five-minute relocate shuffle. Grab a bin, box, or basket and load it up with anything that landed in your bedroom and needs to see its way out. Take a few minutes to return bills and mail to your home “office,” dirty dishes to the kitchen sink, etc. This is like a quick reset for your bedroom, and a few minutes a day are all that’s required to prevent an avalanche and a weekend of cleaning and tidying. Do it for your future self!

Airy bedroom organization ideas.

Tip #4: Create Clear Boundaries for Other People’s Stuff

Do you have a partner or spouse, kids or furry friends, or an Italian lover who visits every third Thursday? If other people are frequently dumping stuff in your bedroom, it’s best to create clear and consistent guidelines and rules.

I know this is the part where you want me to tell you how to get other people to change. Believe me, as a control enthusiast myself, I would love nothing more than to provide you with that secret formula. But the truth is that other people generally do what they want . . . even if you ask politely. Even if you remind them. Even if you threaten them or pout or get mad.

The good news? You always get to decide how you want to think, feel, act, and react in any situation, so that’s what we will deal with here.

Create a plan for how you will handle it when other people leave stuff in your bedroom. Write down exactly how you want to react and what actions you want to take. It’s important to think this through from a calm place in advance. Make sure to communicate it in a clear, respectful, and nonthreatening way to the others in your life. Use “if/then” statements. For example, you could say to your kids, “If you leave your belongings in my bedroom, then I will always put them in a pile on your bed because they don’t belong in my space.” Make sure whatever you decide feels good to you and is fueled by a positive emotion—i.e., “I’m excited to create a space that feels good” as opposed to “Anyone who touches my masterpiece is going DOWN!”

5 Things to Banish From the Bedroom

  • Excess Furniture. The bed already takes up most of your prime real estate. If you have random side tables, end tables, stools, or benches, considering relocating them or donating them. Give your bedroom room to breathe, unless you have a huge bedroom and have created some type of suite.
  • Luggage. Unpack immediately when you come home from a trip. Put your things away and then put away your suitcase (in its designated home, of course). Please.
  • Dirty Dishes. One question. Why? Slow down and take a minute to bring your dirty dishes and neglected coffee mugs back to the kitchen. You can earn bonus points by immediately washing them and putting them away.
  • Trash. I’m saying it because it’s more common than you might think. Trash should go in the trash. Not on your nightstand, not under your bed, not on top of your dresser. Not on your bedroom floor! I think we’re on the same page here. Throw your trash away. Do it now. Like, right now.
  • Technology. Ultimately, no matter what else you decide to do, your bedroom needs to be a place where you can rest. Going to bed with a buzz of computers or phones does not a good night’s sleep make. Relocate your computers, phones, tablets, and anything else that prevents you from going to bed and staying asleep.

This is an exclusive excerpt from Shira Gill’s book, Minimalista: Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Better Home, Wardrobe, and Life. Reprinted from Minimalista by Shira Gill. Copyright 2021 by Shira Gill. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

This post was last updated on December 30, 2022.

10 Tips For a Healthy Gut This Holiday Season—According to a Nutritionist

For each of us, the holiday season holds something distinctive. For some, it embodies a time of spiritual connection. Others cherish shared traditions with family. For many, it sparks generosity. Ultimately, this time of year is wrapped in its own kind of magic. Delicious treats and creamy cocktails included. Inevitably, December is also synonymous with digestive distress (hello, travel, irregular routines, and not-so-gut-friendly foods). But good news! You don’t have to sacrifice your digestive well-being to fully savor the holiday spirit. You can hold space for both: celebrating with loved ones and supporting your digestive system. This year, make it a gut health holiday season. Scroll on for tips to navigate the holiday hustle without feeling deprived.

Featured image from our interview with Roxana Saidi by Suruchi Avasthi

Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

How to *Not* Support Your Gut Health

Let’s start here. Oftentimes, gut health wreckers are subtle. Think: skipping meals, drinking too much coffee, drink too little water, and wonky sleep. When we don’t identify and address these sneaky culprits, we can’t maintain a thriving digestive system. So, start small. Get into bed 15 minutes earlier than you usually do. Refill your water bottle—right before sleep—to easily hydrate in the morning. Throw an extra snack in your bag. And if stress is at an all-time high, don’t underestimate the power of communicating your stressors to loved ones, friends, or a trusted therapist.

Stress_gut health holidays

Get the Most Bang for Your Nutritional Buck

When it comes to increasing your good gut bacteria, you want to make sure you’re actually absorbing what you’re putting into your body. In other words, a forkful of kimchi isn’t going to outdo a plate of highly-processed ingredients, refined sugar, and artificial additives. Capiche? With gut health holidays in mind, here are a few diet tips to optimize nutrient absorption.

Eat the rainbow

A balanced diet ensures you’re receiving a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for proper absorption. Try to add something green, orange, red, and/or purple to most meals!

Pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C

Did you know you can enhance the absorption of iron by pairing it with vitamin C-rich foods? For example, add citrus fruits, bell peppers, or tomatoes to your iron-rich meals—red meat, dark poultry, oysters, lentils, dark leafy greens, etc.

Include healthy fats

Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Include these fats in your meals to enhance the uptake of beneficial gut bacteria.

Cook your veggies

Skip the raw produce and opt for roasting and sautéing. For example, cooking tomatoes releases lycopene, an antioxidant linked to various health benefits—including better digestive health.

Consume fermented foods

Fermented foods—like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi—contain probiotics that support a healthy gut microbiome. A well-balanced gut enhances nutrient absorption and overall digestion.

Practice mindful eating

Pay attention to your meals and practice mindful eating. Chew your food thoroughly, as the digestive process begins in the mouth with enzymes in saliva breaking down carbohydrates.

Moderate your caffeine and alcohol intake

While this is easier said than done during the holidays, excessive caffeine and alcohol can interfere with beneficial gut bacteria. Consume these beverages in moderation.

Shanika Hillocks_gut health holidays

Don’t Forget Your Supplements

When it comes to keeping your gut health in check during the holidays, basic supplements work wonders. Stock up on your probiotics and magnesium before you hit the road. Both of these are key for maintaining gut health balance. Additionally, consider collagen or colostrum. By bolstering the mucosal layer, collagen aids in preventing the penetration of harmful substances and supports overall digestive health. Colostrum works in a similar (if not, more powerful!) way. Even adaptogens, like ashwagandha, can help the body adapt to stressors, thereby indirectly benefiting the gut.

Woman eating gut-health beneficial meal.

10 Ways to Encourage a Healthy Gut

Inevitably, we all want to feel our best during the holidays (while relishing the season’s long-awaited comfort food). With practicality at the forefront, here are 10 ways to prioritize your digestive health as the year comes to a close.

1. Prioritize Hydration On the Go

Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday travel, it’s easy to forget the simplest remedy for maintaining good gut health: water. Staying adequately hydrated aids digestion, helps flush out toxins, and supports overall well-being. Invest in a reusable water bottle to carry with you wherever you go, ensuring you have a convenient hydration companion during family visits, airport layovers, or road trips.

2. Pack Fiber-Friendly Snacks

Long journeys often lead to unhealthy snacking choices, especially when faced with limited options at airports or gas stations. Combat this by packing your own gut-friendly snacks, such as nuts, seeds, roasted chickpeas, or whole fruit. Not only does this keep your digestive system happy, but it also saves you from succumbing to the allure of less nutritious alternatives.

3. Embrace the Power of Probiotics

Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria becomes even more crucial during the holiday season. Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, can promote a thriving gut microbiome. Making charcuterie? Incorporate these foods into your holiday spread to support digestion and boost your immune system, helping you stay resilient in the face of holiday stressors.

4. Embrace Mindful Eating Amidst Family Feasts

Holiday gatherings often mean indulging in feasts that can challenge your digestive system. Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite, chewing slowly, and paying attention to your body’s signals of fullness. This not only aids digestion but also allows you to enjoy the flavors of the season without overloading your gut.

5. Plan Balanced Meals Ahead of Time

Anticipate irregular meal times during the holidays by planning well-balanced meals in advance. Ensure your plate is a colorful array of fruits, veggies, proteins, and whole grains. This preemptive approach helps you maintain a nutrient-rich diet even when faced with the temptations of holiday treats. When in doubt, don’t skip breakfast.

6. Opt for Strategic Indulgences

While it’s perfectly acceptable (read: encouraged!) to enjoy holiday treats, strategic indulgences can make a significant difference. Choose your moments wisely, savoring those special desserts or decadent dishes without overdoing it. This way, you can indulge without leaving your gut feeling overwhelmed.

7. Incorporate Gut-Healing Herbs and Spices

Give your digestive system an extra boost by incorporating gut-healing herbs and spices into your holiday cooking. Ginger, peppermint, fennel, and turmeric are known for their digestive benefits. Experiment with adding these flavorful elements to your dishes, or enjoy them in teas to soothe your stomach after a hearty meal. Pack your tea bags with you!

8. Stay Active, No Matter Where You Are

Maintaining an active lifestyle can be challenging during the holidays, especially when routines are disrupted. Combat this by incorporating short bursts of physical activity into your day. Whether it’s a brisk walk after a meal, a quick workout in your hotel room, or a dance session during a family gathering, staying active supports healthy digestion.

9. Prioritize Sleep for Gut Health

Amidst the holiday excitement, it’s crucial not to neglect your sleep. A well-rested body is better equipped to handle the demands of the festive season, including maintaining optimal gut health. Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure you get enough rest to support your overall well-being.

10. Practice Stress-Reducing Techniques

Last but certainly not least, (try to) manage your stress. The holidays are emotionally charged, and stress has a direct impact on your digestive system. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga into your routine to keep your mind and gut in harmony.

Sleep_gut health holidays

A Holiday Season to Remember

This goes without saying, but the holidays are a time for celebration—not digestive distress. By incorporating these 10 tips into your festive routine, you can strike a balance between indulgence and prioritizing your gut health (the best of both worlds). Remember, it’s about making mindful choices, staying hydrated, and embracing a holistic approach to your well-being. Savor the season and let your gut join in the celebration.

Steal an Expert’s Tips for Designing Your Dream Outdoor Entertaining Space

I’m writing to you during the middle of fall (in the northeast, of all places), and there’s one thing on my mind. It’s not what I’m buying my family for Christmas, nor does it involve the sweaters I’ll be stocking in my closet this season. Sure, all of those things live rent-free in my head, but I’m proud to say that I’m more prepped for the summer than I’ve been in years passed. Believe it or not, I’m talking about outdoor entertaining design. And with the temps being in the 40’s in New England, I’m sure you think I’m being a little overzealous. But no, I’m simply ahead of the game.

Let me explain. When I learned that Camille would be lending her expertise to the Living by Design Virtual Showhouse, I knew I needed to steal her tips and approach—asap. The Embello team invited Camille to join a roster of top-tier designers (Bobby Berk and Brigette Romanek, among them) to create a virtual, shoppable experience that highlights innovative, inspiring design.

To dive in even further, I spoke with Ana Maria Bernal, an Austin-based design consultant for Summer Classics, the brand behind the stunning outdoor furniture that Camille chose for the Showhouse. Today, she’s sharing her game-changing approach to outdoor entertaining design. Because as we all know: you can never be too prepared for warm-weather gatherings.

Camille Styles selecting paint swatches.
Woman selecting paint swatches.

Any furniture used for an outdoor dining area will have to withstand the elements. What are the best materials with consideration to both functionality and aesthetics?

All materials offered as options in our Summer Classics line are suitable for outdoor. These are a few questions that can determine what is best for our clients:

  • Is your outdoor area covered, screened in, or open?
  • What is your style preference?
  • What is the color scheme of the architectural components, such as paint and flooring, countertops, cabinetry, etc?
Outdoor living room.

For a seamless alfresco dining experience, the furniture should blend cohesively with the surrounding nature. How can buyers get inspired by their environment and select pieces that pair well?

Second to good food and great drink, comfortable furniture is everything when enjoying a wonderful al fresco dinner. When working with families, I like to have them test the furniture to make sure it’s comfortable. If they have a great view of a patio, pool, lake, or golf course, I like to make sure the furniture enhances those features rather than blocking them.

In terms of placement and creating the greatest sense of flow from the home into the outdoors, how should the dining area be positioned?

Space planning is as critical to a space as the furniture you implement. Most outdoor areas tend to mix dining with seating, and many have architectural components that determine the layout.

A good space is easy to navigate, safe if you are carrying trays or other objects, allows for both activities to occur comfortably, and honors the natural surroundings.

Outdoor entertaining space.

How do you approach designating between the dining area and the entertaining areas of the outdoor space?

There are several basic measurements that are good to keep in mind, like giving a 3-foot distance between a dining table and a wall or other objects for easy accessibility. The following questions can be helpful to consider when designing the space:

  • If you are watching TV, how far and how high is the seating from the TV?
  • Do you need or have end tables, side tables, or a fire pit, that needs extra space?  These considerations will affect size or degree of inclination of your furniture pieces.
  • Is the lighting reflecting on the TV screen?
Summer Classics chair.
Outdoor dining table.

The pieces from the Summer Classics collection exude a mid-century modern, California-cool vibe. How can homeowners with more eclectic tastes still incorporate these furnishings into their outdoor dining space?

Although our line is often shown or perceived as cool California, it is actually one of the most versatile outdoor lines I have ever known. From our traditional Provance cast iron pieces to our Majorca neoclassical swivel rockers to our Rustic weave sectionals to our clean line, minimalist Seashore Endura chaises. There is enough variety in style and finishes to create one of a kind spaces for all.

Thank you to our incredible sponsor of this article— Summer Classics, And, to YouSee, for transforming my idea into this stunning 3D visualization.

7 Self-Care Tips That Every Parent Should Adopt This Holiday Season

We’ve survived the spooky season only to be catapulted into the official start of the holidays. And if I’m being honest, I already feel on the edge of burnout. Maybe it’s the first cold of the season or the multiple Thanksgivings we attended (not to mention all the holiday travel details still left to coordinate). In any case, I’m reminded that to make it to the end of the year without losing my cool, I need to implement some personal self-care. I imagine there are plenty of other parents feeling the same way, so I’m her with 7 self-care tips for parents heading into the holiday season.

Featured image from our interview with Ariel Kaye by Teal Thomsen.

7 Self-Care Tips for Parents During the Holiday Season

While self-care practices are important all throughout the year, it’s the piling on of parties, plans, and presents to be bought and wrapped that can wear us down during the holidays. What’s more, as parents of little ones, it’s up to us to make the season magical. That means a lot of effort goes into decking the halls and playing Santa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I get it. And that’s where these self-care tips for parents come in handy.

Ahead, I’m sharing not only my ideas to carve out some peace and quiet, but also why these practices are essential—plus tips for incorporating them into your life. Let’s make it happen.

Prioritize Your Needs

One of the best self-care tips for parents I can give you is to prioritize your needs over anyone else’s. And no, it’s not selfish! Prioritizing your needs ensures you have the energy and emotional well-being to care for your family effectively.

If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it.

Make a list of your needs and schedule time for self-care activities. Communicate your needs with your partner, friends, and family. And be sure to ask for support when you need it. If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it. I mean it: allow yourself to do less!

Set Realistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations can lead to stress and disappointment. Realistic expectations can help you maintain a sense of balance. Reflect on past holiday seasons and set achievable goals. Be open to reevaluating things that may have felt stressful in years past. Practice flexibility and be open to adjustments as needed. Is attending a seven-course meal with toddlers doable? Do you want to mail and address one hundred holiday cards? Check in with yourself and ask how realistic this is. And be honest: are you taking on too much?

Image by Belathée Photography

Practice Mindfulness

It’s all too easy to get swept up in the busyness of the holidays, putting ourselves on auto-pilot as we power through everything we need to do. This year, I challenge you to practice mindfulness before diving into it all. Mindfulness techniques can reduce stress, improve focus, and help you stay present in the moment.

Set aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness exercises. Create a vision board or visualize how you want to feel during the holidays: peaceful, present, and loved by family and friends. When you can give yourself the time to focus on what truly matters, it’s easier to let go of anything that isn’t serving you.

Less Screen Time, More Real Connections

Reducing screen time promotes face-to-face interactions and healthier family bonding. Set screen time limits for both yourself and your children. Use the extra time for quality family activities or relaxation. Social media often presents a polished highlight reel for most people. During the holidays, this effect can be even more pronounced, with everyone posting pictures of perfect trees, family photos, or matching pajama sets.

For some of us, the pressure to do it all can feel overwhelming and disheartening. If social media is making you feel inadequate, consider taking a break. (We dive into the importance and step-by-step details of taking a holiday social media detox.) Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Instead, reach out to friends and family who understand your challenges and values. They can provide emotional support and connection through calls, texts, or video chats.

Image by Emma Bassill

Stay Active

Regular exercise is a potent stress reliever and mood enhancer, yet it often gets pushed aside, especially when we have guests in town or when our kids are home from school.  Instead, continue your fitness routine or explore creative ways to stay active, like family walks, dance parties, or holiday-themed workouts.

Did you know that exercising may reduce your bad mental health days by 40%?  In my family, we are big fans of healthy competition, from pickleball matches to relay races involving the entire family, which can help reduce everyone’s stress levels. There’s also nothing wrong with carving out some alone time to stick to your exercise routine. Modeling self-care for your children will only help reinforce the importance of it for themselves. Get started with our favorite workouts.

Practice Good Sleep Habits

I’ll be the first to admit that I often stay up late during the holidays to get things done while my kids are sleeping. While checking off items on my to-do list in silence can be enjoyable, it can lead to rough mornings and long days. Add holiday parties that keep you out late and occasional holiday alcohol consumption, and you might find yourself navigating the holidays with a sleep deficit.

Lack of sleep is no joke. Anxiety and sleep deprivation have been proven to go hand-in-hand. Self-care starts with good sleep habits. Make sure you’re getting a full eight hours of rest. Consider limiting your alcohol intake to ensure sound sleep, and don’t forget the power of a 20-minute power nap. If you struggle to fall asleep, try implementing some healthy sleep habits.

Make Space for Emotions

While some of us feel like it’s the happiest time of the year, others may feel sad or depressed during the holidays. Regardless of which emotions the holidays evoke, it’s important to make time to reflect on and embrace them as they come up. This can involve a gratitude practice or picking up the phone to share your feelings with someone. If you find yourself feeling lonely during the holidays, make a plan to get yourself out of the house and into the community. There are numerous opportunities to get involved during this time of year.

The Takeaway

By understanding the importance of these self-care practices and integrating them into your daily routine, you can navigate the holiday season more smoothly and savor the precious moments with your family. I hope you can incorporate these self-care tips for parents into your life and make the most of your time with family! Happy holiday season, everyone!

How to Sleep Better: 24 Proven Tips to Try Tonight

Even before Arianna Huffington convinced the world that sleep was cool, we’ve long obsessed over improving our snooze. From falling asleep faster to resetting our circadian rhythms to getting to the bottom of why we’re so dang tired all the time—learning how to sleep better is a journey all of us at Camille Styles happily find ourselves on.

I write “journey” because here’s the truth: some mornings, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Others? You’ll wonder if eight restorative hours is a pipe dream at best. Knowing how to sleep better is a key wellness essential, but there are plenty of rest disruptors outside of our control. So don’t stress about getting a perfect night’s sleep—there’s no such world. Instead, arm yourself with the science-backed info that makes waking up with new energy and inspiration a reality, and our insomnia-riddled nights a thing of the past.

Featured image from our interview with Megan Roup.

How to Sleep Better: A Step-by-Step Guide

To set you up for sleepy success, I spoke with Preeti Chahal, Certified Wellness Coach – PharmD of Equilibria. As a brand focused on pairing effective wellness supplements with one-on-one coaching, I trusted their wellness coaching team to be the perfect resource to tap.

Ahead, Preeti and I discuss all the pillars of a good night’s sleep. Learn how to design the calming haven of your dreams, ideas for keeping stress at bay, and more. Plus, scroll to the end for sleep products that help you double down on rest.

Signs and Symptoms You Need to Improve Your Sleep

A great place to start. Because really: even though everyone’s talking about getting more/better sleep, it’s very well possible that you’re already doing exactly that. But if you suspect your zzz’s could use a little TLC, Preeti shares common signs of poor sleep:

  • Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.
  • Regularly waking up more than once per night.
  • Feeling tired and having difficulty concentrating during the day (causing you to reach for more caffeine).
  • Physical signs like skin breakouts, puffy eyes, or dark circles.
  • Feelings of hunger especially for junk food and unintended weight gain.
  • Feeling more stressed, emotionally exhausted, angry, or irritable.

Tips for Promoting Restful Sleep Throughout the Day

PSA: It’s not only your nighttime habits that impact your sleep. All throughout the day, we can incorporate certain sleep-promoting habits that make it all the easier to wind down before bed. Preeti’s top daytime sleep practices include:

Get sunlight in the morning. Even just 15-30 minutes outside in the sun can help you wake up and reset your circadian rhythm. As we’ve shared on the topic previously, everything from artificial light to stress to jet lag can compromise your sleep quality. Getting a little morning sun is an easy and enjoyable way to combat this.

Limit caffeine and alcohol. “Both of these substances can stay in your system for some time and disrupt your sleep quality,” notes Preeti. We aim to cut caffeine off by the early afternoon and try to keep alcohol to weekends or special occasions. Preeti recommends avoiding alcohol within three hours of your bedtime and caffeine within five hours.

Wake up and go to bed at the same time. Every day—that means weekends, too! “Following a consistent sleep schedule trains your brain to recognize when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake,” says Preeti. So if you’re tempted to take Saturday or Sunday to sleep in, it’ll be better for your body and mind in the long run if you get an early start. (But, of course, you’re welcome to take things slowly—with a coffee in hand.)

Ditch the tech at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Preeti encourages anyone looking to improve their sleep to turn off the television, power down your computer, and put your phone down. Screens and devices “emit bright blue light that your brain perceives as sunlight, tricking it into putting off sleep and staying awake longer than you’d like,” says Preeti. To make it easier on yourself, take the TV out of the bedroom and charge your devices downstairs (turned off). The more physical distance you put between yourself and your tech, the less tempting it is.

Stress and Sleep: How to Keep It Under Control

It’s no secret that stress can be one of the primary things keeping us up. Between deadlines, kids’ schedules, and the general busyness of our weeks, stress can easily disrupt our snooze schedule. Thankfully, as Preeti cites, there are healthy habits we can practice to keep it from interfering with our sleep.

Take a warm shower or bath. I used to be a morning shower person—and then I discovered truly how relaxing it can be to take a warm one at night. If you go the bath route, try a magnesium bath soak that’ll encourage muscle and mental relaxation. According to Preeti, a warm shower or bath “may help you relax, destress, and lower your body temperature, allowing you to fall asleep faster.”

Keep a journal. Journaling is a go-to method for calming our minds and getting aligned at the start and end of each day. Preeti appreciates it as a “brain dump,” which keeps racing thoughts at bay. If you’ve ever felt restless and anxious as soon as your head hits the pillow, it’s time to start journaling.

Get moving. Where sleep and stress are concerned, exercise is the perfect two-fer. It’s known to promote mindfulness and relaxation, thus relieving stress. Movement can also help you fall asleep faster and feel more energized throughout the day. Walking, yoga, Pilates—anything and everything counts.

Try a guided meditation. Another wonderful way to reduce stress and improve sleep? Meditation. Even just a few minutes can help you connect with your breath and slow your thoughts. Apps like Headspace, Calm, or Superhuman are all excellent places to start.

How to Beat Insomnia Naturally

While Preeti notes that there is no single central cause of insomnia, she notes that “research suggests that people with insomnia have psychological arousal at unwanted times that interfere with sleep.” What can this look like? Everything from increased heart rate and body temperature to hormone fluctuations (increased cortisol, specifically).

Preeti suggests focusing on optimized sleep hygiene, which includes:

  • maintaining healthy lifestyle habits
  • avoiding daytime naps
  • limiting screentime
  • keeping a consistent sleep schedule

But her number one tip for improving insomnia. “Pursuing cognitive behavioral therapy,” helps people manage their anxiety around sleep and encourages better sleep habits.

Tips for Creating a Restful Sleep Environment

When it comes to learning how to sleep better, never overlook the importance of a supportive sleep environment. You’ve heard it before: the bedroom should be used for sleep and sex. For a truly restorative sleep, power down the tech and follow Preeti’s tips.

Cool down. Repeat after me: blankets are best. Cooler temperatures between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. “Our body temperature naturally drops at night so this will help signal the body to get ready for sleep,” Preeti explains.

Diffuse essential oils. Lavender is perfect for creating a calming sleep environment.

Block out light. Black-out curtains and/or an eye mask keep light from interrupting your sleep.

Drown our noise. Earplugs or a white noise machine should get the job done.

The Best Products for Restorative Sleep

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Quince Cotton Slub Blackout Curtain

If you live in a city, you know just how necessary blackout curtains can be. Block out street lights, your neighbors, and even the moon on a super bright occasion. And while some blackout curtains look purely functional, these tie your calming, wabi-sabi aesthetic together perfectly.

Arrae Sleep

As I say to anyone who asks me about Arrae—come for viral the Bloat capsules, stay for the beyond-effective sleep supplement. Not only does it quickly whisk you off to sleep, but it helps you experience a deeper, quality snooze. Ingredients like chamomile, gaba, valerian root, and holy basil regulate your nervous system and calm anxiety for the best sleep of your life. Bonus: they’re formulated without melatonin, so you don’t have to worry about dependency.

Equilibria Sleep Gummies

When it comes to supplements, I usually skip over the gummies. Not simply because they usually taste… awful, but because they’re oftentimes weighed down with fillers and added sugars. Thankfully, Equilibria’s sleep gummies are formulated with ingredients like chamomile and L-theanine for a natural night’s sleep. Also: they’re delicious. Truly. Notes of Bordeaux cherry come through, making them a sweet and functional after-dinner treat.

Lunya Washable Silk Sleep Mask

I only recently purchased this sleep mask, and after that first night of blissful sleep, I asked: what took me so long? The luxurious, silky texture provides a cloud-like weight over your eyes, gently coaxing you toward a restful night well slept.

FluffCo Turn Down Room Spray

The way I’ll go to my grave buying this room spray for everyone as a gift. It’s an affordable little luxury that I keep on my nightstand at all times. Top notes of jasmine, bergamot, and neroli blend with patchouli and sandalwood for a sophisticated scent that invites you to rest up and rest well.

Moon Juice Magnesi-Om

It’s game over for all other magnesium powders now that Moon Juice has entered the scene. Formulated with three forms of magnesium plus L-theanine, it not only promotes sleep but also boosts brain health and supports regular bowel movements. Choose from blue lemon, berry, or both. I love sipping on this an hour or so before bed.

Intelligent Change Night Notes Journal

Do you go to sleep with a million thoughts milling about in your mind? Get it all out with this guided journal that offers space to record and analyze your dreams, jot down your creative ideas, and get a head start on tomorrow’s to-do list.

A Nutritionist’s Tips To Reduce Bloat—Plus, 10 Teas For Digestive Health

Let’s face it: a bloated midsection is all it takes to spiral down a weight-loss mission, negative self-talk, or a woe is me conversation with a friend. We’ve all been there. But truth be told, a bit of bloat is no big deal. In fact, it’s one of the most common phenomenons. When we eat, we bloat. And to a degree, this is totally normal. Bloating has a decidedly negative connotation in the wellness world, but it’s pretty standard. Therefore, let’s curb the chase for a persistently flat stomach—that’s not realistic. Especially during certain times of the month. You can, however, minimize bloat’s impact on your daily life. Without further ado, here’s everything to know about bloat: facts, myths, and the best teas for bloating.

What is bloating?

We know what it feels like—but what is bloating, exactly? Ultimately, bloating is a combination of gas, air, and/or fluid retention in the stomach and intestines. When you’re bloated, you may feel as if there is no room in your stomach. Often, your tummy feels full, tender, and tight. In some cases, swollen. If you’ve experienced it, bloating can be both uncomfortable and painful. Luckily, there are many ways to stop bloating in its tracks.

What causes bloating?

A variety of factors. As mentioned, bloating happens when the GI tract becomes filled with air or gas. This can be caused by the mere process of eating. However, certain foods and carbonated drinks can make it worse. Inevitably, some foods produce more gas than others. If you have a food intolerance or allergy, you’re likely no stranger to bloat. Additionally, bloating happens if you eat too much too fast. Beyond food, the menstrual cycle is another common cause of temporary bloating. Research shows that changes in progesterone and estrogen cause the body to retain more water and salt—thus, bloating.

Surprising Facts About Bloat

While it’s common knowledge that overeating—as well as eating too fast—triggers bloat, there are sneakier culprits to a bloat brigade.

1. Healthy Foods Cause Bloat

Even some of the world’s healthiest ingredients can leave us bloated. We fill our bellies with hearty lentil salads and nourishing grain bowls, only to realize we’re a bit gassy. A few of the biggest culprits?Cruciferous vegetables and beans. Veggies are high in insoluble fiber, which draws fluid into your intestines. This leads to bloat. Of course, the answer isn’t to cut out good-for-you foods—like produce—rather, it’s to eat them alongside healthy fats and protein, cook your veggies for easier digestion, and focus on chewing slowly.

2. For Better Digestion, Ditch The Diet Foods

There’s more than one reason to ditch diet foods. Fat-free and sugar-free foods are laden with sugar substitutes, which are hard for your intestines to digest. They stay in the bowel and draw water in, increasing bloating. And even if your body can digest those faux sugars, they’ll just create even more gas. No, thanks.

3. Get Moving: Sitting All Day Makes You Bloat

In general, being more active leads to increased activity in the GI tract (a good thing!). Therefore, sitting all day can lead to slower metabolism to even slower digestion. Hello, constipation. And when you’re backed up, you’re likely bloated. The prescription? Move. Invest in a standing desk, do 20 squats between meetings, or head out for a quick lap around the block before cooking dinner.

Signs of an Underlying Gut Issue

So, how do you know if you’re experiencing “normal” bloat or an underlying gut issue? While this varies from person to person, below are universal indicators of an underlying gut issue. If any of these ring a bell, consider discussing these symptoms with your healthcare provider.

  • Chronic digestive issues. Daily constipation, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, acid reflux, or heartburn. A healthy digestive system should be able to process food and get rid of waste with ease. 
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain. Without a change in diet, stress, or exercise habits, steep weight loss or gain can point straight to an unhealthy gut. A gut that’s not balanced can have trouble absorbing nutrients, regulating blood sugar, signaling that you’re full, and storing fat.
  • Constant fatigue. A lack of diverse gut bacteria is directly linked to a lack of energy, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders. A gut that’s not functioning properly can have a hard time producing or regulating serotonin—which can affect your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. 
  • Skin conditions. Gut health affects everything, including your skin. Conditions like eczema and acne are linked to inflammation in the gut, caused by food allergies, poor diet, and lack of good gut bacteria.

Bye-Bye, Bloat: 5 Ingredients to Limit

If you regularly experience bloating, diarrhea, congestion, eczema, or acne, you’ll want to take a closer look at your diet. Keeping a food journal and jotting down your symptoms can be very insightful. That said—because we’re all bio-individuals, what triggers your bloat won’t be the same as mine. Take this list with a grain of salt.

At any rate, these are universally helpful ingredients to limit for gut health:

10 Functional Teas to Give Bloat the Boot

Sift through the tea box at your favorite spa, and you’re bound to find teas like chamomile, lemon balm, rose, and peppermint. No surprise, as these herbal teas are one of life’s most simple and soothing pleasures. Creating a ritual out of steeping tea is comforting, relaxing, and instantly grounding. In many cases, a cup of tea can also help with digestive woes. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best teas for bloating.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Ginger Tea

No surprise here. Ginger is incredibly nourishing for overall health and well-being. It has been used to treat digestive issues since ancient times—and the research proves it. Ginger is known to aid in—and increase the speed of—digestion, while also reducing intestinal cramping. For further soothing effects, pair your ginger tea with raw honey and lemon.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint—and peppermint tea—has long been used to soothe digestive issues, including bloating. Similar to ginger, peppermint is also an intestinal relaxant. It’s wonderful for nausea as well. Peppermint works by allowing everything from swallowed air to built-up gas to pass through the intestines more easily. It’s also one of the best teas for bloating because of its high concentration of flavonoids (these help calm the bacteria).

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a delightful option for digestion, wellness, and promoting relaxation. Small but mighty chamomile flowers are known to decrease levels of bacteria, soothe abdominal pain, prevent diarrhea, and decrease gas. Enjoy chamomile tea for a bloated or upset stomach as well as to aid in a better night’s sleep.

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric is a bold yellow spice with a pungent, bitter flavor. It’s been found to have potent inflammation-fighting and gas-relieving properties. In fact, it’s been incorporated in traditional Chinese medicine to treat abdominal pain and bloating, according to a 2016 review in Electron Physician.

Fennel Tea

If you haven’t tried fennel seeds, they taste similar to licorice and have long been used to aid in digestive health. According to herbalists, fennel is known to decrease constipation and abdominal pain. It can help muscles of the gastrointestinal system relax and reduce gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemons and citrus fruits are known to provide powerful cleansing properties and immune support, especially when added to tea. Lemon balm, specifically, can help alleviate mild digestive discomfort like bloating and gas—as well as increase normal digestive movements. To boost your digestion each morning, try drinking a lemon-based tea, like Traditional Medicinals’ Lemon Balm tea.

Dandelion Root Tea

Feeling bloated due to extra water retention? Dandelion root tea can be a solution. For years, dandelion (that’s right, the flower!) has been used to stimulate urination. Now, research suggests this folk remedy may have some basis: those who took an 8-ounce extract of dandelion not only urinated more often, but also urinated in greater amounts. In essence, dandelion tea can provide relief because it acts as a diuretic.


We love a matcha moment. Made from green tea leaves, this full-bodied tea packs an earthy flavor, a deeper green color and, of course, caffeine (but less than a cup of coffee). Among the many benefits of matcha, it’s packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants and increases metabolism. In terms of bloating, studies point to a number of ways that green tea supports gastrointestinal health, including better food absorption and gas reduction. Many people add milk to their matcha, so you can enjoy it latte style or add a small amount of sweetener to taste.

Hibiscus Tea

Like steeping a cup of turmeric tea, hibiscus tea makes for a beautiful, colorful drink. The flowers produce a sweeter, cranberry-like flavor. When boiled, the flavonoids in hibiscus can help regulate a hormone called aldosterone. This controls electrolyte levels and affects water intake—both key to beating the bloat.

Wormwood Tea

Have you heard of wormwood? Wormwood is a leafy, green herb that makes a bitter tea. It’s an acquired taste, but you can soften the flavor with lemon juice and honey! Due to its bitterness, wormwood is sometimes used in digestive bitters. These are supplements made of bitter herbs and spices that may help support digestion. To make the tea, use 1 teaspoon (1.5 grams) of the dried herb per cup (240 ml) of boiled water, steeping for 5 minutes.

Notably, wormwood shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, as it contains thujone, a compound that can cause uterine contractions.

This post was originally published on October 24, 2022, and has since been updated.

My Best Bookshelf Styling Tips Ever—Just in Time for Fall

When it comes to decorating the bookshelves in my home, my philosophy could be summed up as—less is more. It’s so easy for open shelves to become catch-alls for all kinds of random tchotchkes and way more books than I actually need to have out on display. We have a lot of built-ins in our home, and I want to genuinely love everything on them rather than blindly following trends or design rules. So, the onset of a new season is always the perfect opportunity to take a fresh approach to my shelves by adding some beautiful new finds—and removing some things in the process!

For today’s shelf restyling session, everything I used is from our partner Target, proving once again that a beautiful home does not have to be expensive or complicated. Read on to see how I transformed my shelves for fall, and shop everything below.

Neutral, Minimal Shelf Styling for Fall

Whenever I redesign my bookshelves to welcome a new season, I take a somewhat minimalist approach to spotlight the items I really love. The more clutter, the more my personal style gets lost in the mix! I want to achieve that feeling of abundance but with less stuff, and for my spaces to feel open, simple, and expansive. That means that every time I add something to my shelves, I also try to take away one item and stash it, donate it, or move it to somewhere else in my home.

Warm Minimalism

A minimalist aesthetic sometimes gets a bad rap as feeling cold or spare—and it absolutely doesn’t have to! My design approach is based on “warm minimalism,” meaning it incorporates lots of texture and materiality to make my home feel cozy. I’ve found that when I have less stuff, I often discover more joy in the things I do have. It’s an approach that doesn’t rely on trends; rather it’s slowly building a collection of pieces that speak to you, being thoughtful about each of your purchases.

Embrace the Seasons

Your bookshelves are a really great place to transition your home with the seasons, whether you want to make them feel lighter and brighter in the springtime or cozy them up for fall and winter. Today, I’m restyling my shelves for fall, bringing in some darker, moodier tones and lots of texture, while leaning into the minimal neutral color palette I love.

First, Lay It All Out

The first thing I do is take every single item off my shelves. Before we add anything back on, we’re going to lay all of my pieces on the ground or a table so I can see what I want to add back in, what needs to go, and then which new items I want to add to the mix. 

Then, Move Things Around

I want to reshuffle and try different items together to get a visual sense of which pieces pair well together before I start putting them back on the shelf. Once I’ve got my favorite groupings together, I start adding them to the shelves and experimenting. The key here is to move, arrange, shift, and play with the pieces until you feel good about the arrangement. There are no rules here, just tap into your gut and let your heart lead the way. 

If you start second-guessing yourself, one strategy that never lets me down is to step back and take a photo to see it all together. Something about seeing an image gives me a new perspective that shows me those pieces I want to rearrange for the final look. 

Create a Focal Point

On at least a couple shelves, use one larger statement object that draws the eye to it. This will anchor the entire scene and give the eye something to hold onto. 

Create Interest Through Height and Movement

My biggest tip is to play with varying heights and shapes for balance and asymmetry. If one shelf has a stack of books, on another shelf, you can lean them vertically. Make sure that the shelves next to each other aren’t too matchy. And while you definitely want those bigger statement pieces, you don’t want too many large objects or your shelves can quickly become heavy. The goal is to create lines of movement that keep the eye exploring, instead of becoming stagnant and stopping on just one shelf.

Think Outside the Books

Yes, bookshelves house books, but they’re also a place for decor and expressing your personal style. Wander around your house and collect a sculpture or art piece that you can lean on a shelf. Grab a beautiful ceramic bowl from the kitchen. Pull in a mirror from the bedroom. Get creative and balance form with function by adding items to your shelves for no other purpose than the fact that you love them.

Bring in Natural Materials

We all instinctively respond to the beauty of nature. The sound of the ocean or a river has been proven to change our brain waves’ frequency and put us in a more meditative state. At home, I’m always looking for ways to harness these wellness-boosting cues by choosing pieces for the house that bring the outside in. I usually stick to an earthy color palette, and I incorporate as many natural materials as possible–terra cotta ceramics, woven baskets, and wood furniture create a beautifully textured effect.

When You Think It’s Done—Remove Something!

A little restraint goes a long way to achieve a calming, minimalist aesthetic. It can be tempting to layer on all the family photos, books, and trinkets, but as Coco Chanel always said, ““Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off” and I think the same holds true for your shelves. Don’t overcomplicate it—trust your aesthetic and allow the pieces you most love to really shine. Simple is often best.

Let Them Evolve

Embracing the fact that our homes are ever-changing and never “done” relieves the pressure of making everything perfect from day one. I’d rather slowly choose the pieces that speak to me, even if that means leaving a little breathing space on my shelves until I find that just-right vase or piece of art. It’s not about impressing anyone, it’s about connecting with our authentic selves and letting our homes evolve right along with us.

You can shop the entire look on my Target storefront, where you’ll find all of my favorite Target buys for every space.

This blog post is sponsored by Target and contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support helps us continue providing helpful content.

Expert-Backed Tips for Falling Asleep Fast—In 5 Minutes or Less

We’re big believers in prioritizing our beauty rest. But not unlike you (and countless others), we often struggle to fall asleep at night. For answers behind the best night’s sleep of our lives, we went straight to the source. Dr. Preeti Devnani, MD is a certified sleep expert, who has dedicated her career to understanding and managing sleep disorders. Clearly, we reasoned, if there’s anyone we can count on to teach us how to fall asleep fast, we connected with the perfect person.

Between busy schedules and tempting screens—there’s a difference between knowing how to fall asleep fast and actually putting the snooze-inducing tips into practice. So if you’re ready to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, Dr. Devnani is sharing actionable steps you can take to build the perfect sleep routine for you. Read on for game-changing insights and ideas.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

Common Factors Contributing to Poor Sleep

As an urban 24-hour society, we’re not giving sleep the due importance it deserves. Many factors contribute to our reduced total sleep time. Contributing factors for sleep disorders include:

  • the advent of prolonged work hours
  • demanding corporate jobs
  • excessive use of technology
  • social media exposure
  • noise pollution
  • sedentary lifestyles
  • substance abuse
  • global travel across time zones

Due to sleep insufficiency, many individuals (even the younger folks) are likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.

Image by Michelle Nash

3 Sleep-Saving Tips an MD Wants You to Make

Ideally, a person should sleep from sunset to sunrise, optimizing the cumulative effect on the homeostatic and circadian drive for ideal physiology. But in the modern era, we’re burning the candle at both ends. We need to make a consistent effort to sleep at the same time and maintain a sleep-and-wake schedule.

Recent studies have shown that deregulation of the sleep cycle or delayed sleep circadian phase can have an adverse effect on the metabolic functions of the body. Ahead, discover the tips that will change your sleep—and life—for the better.

Turn Down the Temp

A mild drop in your core body temperature induces sleep. Hence, if you’re in a cooler environment it facilitates sleep onset. A cool room, close to 65 degrees, is optimum for sleep. Body temperature tends to drop as you become drowsy and reaches its lowest level around 5:00 a.m., then climbs slightly as the day progresses.

If the environment is too hot, it may interfere with your body’s natural temperature dip and make you more restless through the night. Note that each individual has a slightly varied optimal temperature threshold.

Find the Mattress for You

Selecting a mattress is very personal. There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to prove that one type of mattress will help you sleep better than another, but people with certain medical conditions do seem to rest easier on particular mattress styles.

Anyone with back or neck pain should take a “Goldilocks” approach to mattress buying: not too hard, and not too soft. Mattresses that are too soft tend to sleep hot and can add to lower back pain, while mattresses that are too hard can put excess pressure on the sacrum, shoulders, and back of the head. If you have allergies, it’s definitely worth it to invest in a hypoallergenic mattress for better sleep.

Diet has also plays a role in how well we sleep (or how little!)

As children, many of us were given a glass of milk at bedtime. This tradition is based in scientific fact—the calcium in milk helps with the production of tryptophan, which is required in the production of melatonin (a sleep hormone).

Foods that are naturally rich in tryptophan like almonds, chicken, turkey, soybeans, and eggs can be good for sleep. Be sure to also prioritize foods that are rich in melatonin such as cherry juice, ginger root, walnuts, peanuts, and fresh mint.

Caffeine and alcohol can have major effects on sleep. I advise my patients to limit caffeine to before 3 p.m. And while alcohol can make people fall asleep faster, it actually increases wake time after sleep. So, you’re actually sleeping less than you would have if you’d abstained from alcohol that night.

Going to bed hungry makes falling asleep much harder. Eating a regular evening meal followed by a bedtime snack can actually improve sleep!

Image by Michelle Nash

How to Fall Asleep Fast: 5 Expert Tips

#1: Define a regular sleep schedule

An irregular schedule can disrupt the circadian rhythm. (Darkness activates melatonin production, preparing us for sleep.) When we curtail our total sleep time, we accumulate “sleep debt,” so it’s important to set a regular bedtime and wake time and stick to it.

#2: Develop a relaxing bedtime routine

Stress causes the hypothalamus to release corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which then induces the adrenal glands to release cortisol and other stress hormones that promote wakefulness. In other words, stress makes it harder to fall asleep.

Resolve worries before bedtime whenever possible—no stressful pillow talk! Try and develop a bedtime routine that relaxes you. Some soothing activities to consider adding to your nighttime routine:

  • Take a warm bath
  • Journal
  • Sip of warm cup of de-caffeinated tea
  • Read a book
  • Meditate
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Stretch and/or practice breathwork

#3: Stop Using Your Bed as a Home Office

Getting into bed should trigger your body to relax for sleep. Protect those delicate associations by only using your bed for sleep and intimacy.

#4: Be a Morning (Workout) Person

Exercise smart. Morning exercise in the sunlight is the ideal way to start your day. Most people should avoid strenuous workouts in the late evening or right before bed—no 24-hour gyms! The increase in body temperature that comes with cardio workouts and stimulation can interfere with sleep onset. Try moving your workouts to before noon for optimum sleep.

#5: Stop Looking at Your Phone in Bed

Use of electronic gadgets with a back-lit display (computers, phones, tablets, televisions) for two hours before bed has been found to cause a significant suppression of melatonin, causing sleep disturbances. Research has found that monochromatic blue light suppresses melatonin production as well. 

Try putting your phone out of reach before getting into bed. Keep electronics usage to a minimum or completely eliminate blue light (alarms, TVs, laptops) after dark.

Image by Michelle Nash

How to Fall Asleep in 5 Minutes

Need to fall asleep, stat? We love incorporating all of the tips for how to fall asleep fast above, but in an emergency, there are thankfully a few ways you can calm your body and mind quickly for a good night’s sleep.

Guided visualization or meditation. According to an article written in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditations and visualizations can promote relaxation while helping you transition to sleep. Some of our favorite resources include Headspace, Calm, and Superhuman. (Headspace, in particular, features soothing ‘Sleepcasts’—best described as bedtime stories for adults that are one of our favorite things to fall asleep to.)

Paradoxical intention. Think of it as reverse psychology. When we’re stressed about getting enough sleep, that anxiety can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, applying paradoxical intention, actively engage in the behavior. While we’ll continue to advise you to stay away from screens, try reading just one… more… chapter. Or, stay up chatting with your partner. Paradoxical intention can help reduce performance anxiety as it relates to sleep.

Count your breaths. When it comes to falling asleep quickly, we abide by the rule that simpler is often better. Case in point, counting your breaths. Simply breathe as you normally would, but pay attention to your inhales and exhales. Start by counting your exhales up to five, then when you start over, do the same with your inhales. Repeat until you fall asleep.

This post was originally published on Jan 14, 2020, and has since been updated.

Movie Nights Are Back—8 Tips to Make Yours Memorable

Is there anything better than a movie night? While I love an evening out, the introverted, on-the-cusp-of-30 gal in me is always down for staying in. Transitioning from my daytime, work-from-home loungewear to my post-6 p.m. sweats is a dream on its own. And when I have zero plans beyond kicking back with a cat on my lap to browse the streaming app du jour, I’m convinced I’ve found it: pure, unadulterated bliss. But there are times, of course, when we want our evening in to be a little more intentional, which is where creative movie night ideas come into play.

Featured image from our interview with Liana Levi by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Michelle Nash

8 Movie Night Ideas to Elevate Any Night In

I have friends who are more than happy to cosplay as potatoes with me on the couch. But sometimes, the evening inspires me to take my hum-drum movie night up a notch. When the occasion calls for it, I’m happy to have a few go-to movie night ideas up my sleeve. From snacks to serve to invitations that are *extra* in the best way, this is how to plan a movie night you’ll remember long after the credits roll.

1. Identify a Theme in Advance

While not every gathering requires a theme, a movie night is the perfect opportunity to structure your evening around a specific idea, it opens the door for everyone to get a little creative. The easiest way to do this? Match your theme to your movie. Some ideas: decade theme, sports theme, music theme (Bohemian Rhapsody pairs perfectly with an epic Freddie Mercury jacket), horror theme—the list goes on!

From there, you can choose to let your theme guide the rest of your movie night ideas. Themed decor, invitations, food, and the film itself—if you’re new to hosting movie night, choosing a theme makes it easy.

Image by Michelle Nash

2. Step Up Your Invitations

Sure, you could send a quick text a few hours before (movie night @ mine. bring snacks). But… you could also have a little fun with the invites. I love the idea of taking things truly old-school and going the paper route. Find a movie night ticket template online, customize it with your details, and mail the tickets a few weeks in advance to your guests. It’s a fun, personalized way of letting your friends and family know that they’re in for a treat.

If going to the post office is a little too archaic for your speed, send an invite via email. Sites like Paperless Post and Evite offer tons of affordable options so you can send your invite faster.

3. Opt for a Crowd-Pleasing Film

Unfortunately, all of your other movie night ideas will fall flat if you don’t select a film everyone will love. Of course, it’s hard to land on a pick that appeals to all viewers. Some of us obsess over rom-coms (me) while others love a good action flick. And if kiddos are in attendance, you want to ensure the movie is family-friendly. Thankfully, with all of the options available today, there are a few tried-and-true picks that deliver for everyone, every time.

  • Paddington 2. That’s right, this seemingly juvenile film has been dubbed “the perfect movie” by reputable sources. And this writer? 100% in agreement. It’s heartwarming, aesthetically pleasing, and full of beyond-charming British accents. What’s not to love?
  • The Parent Trap. Iconic Meredith Blake outfits, lines we’ve been reciting since childhood, and of course, an early Nancy Meyers favorite. If there are kids in the audience and they haven’t yet been initiated to this campy classic, now’s the time.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox. Wes Anderson is an easy pick for movie night. With a few of his films’ usual suspects (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman) starring—alongside George Clooney and Meryl Streep—it’s hard not to fall for the children’s classic brought to life. Alternatively, if your movie night is kid-free, opt for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anything Edward Norton is a movie night-must.
  • Princess Bride. A true epic. With iconic lines like the Inigo Montoya monologue, everyone will be reciting along. It’s original, unabashed, and goes all in on itself. Also: a late-80s Robin Wright! She alone makes the film.
Image by Michelle Nash

4. Pair With an Easy Meal

With all this planning going into your movie night ideas, it’s unlikely that you’ll have lots of time for a multi-course meal. And when the film is the main attraction, you shouldn’t have to sweat it! The key here is opting for dishes that support hands-on snacking. Pizza, cheese boards, and a snack bar filled with treats galore. If you’re going to use utensils, then for a cozy movie night, chili is your answer.

Ahead, I’m sharing my go-to Camille Styles favorites for a movie night in. With carbs galore and a solid mix of sweet and savory, you can rest assured: your bases are covered.

Bacon, Apple, and Sweet Potato Pizza with Crispy Sage

While I’d wager that any and all pizzas are fair game for movie night, this has to be my favorite. The trifecta of bacon, apples, and sweet potatoes creates a blend of sweet flavor and crispy textures that sit perfectly atop a thin crust. While this dough only serves two, it’s easy to multiply and make many for a crowd. Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made dough and top as you please. And for even more ease, takeout pizza is perfect.

The Ultimate Fall Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are the ultimate movie night snack. They’re an easy and aesthetically pleasing way to welcome all of the season’s flavors into your home. You’re welcome to mix and match ingredients as you please, but keep in mind a consistent color palette, a few good cheeses, and hearty meats to ensure everyone’s satisfied.

Pita & Kebab Board

While I’ve loved the trend of eating everything in bowls, I’ll also happily enjoy all of my meals from a board. Case in point: this flavor-packed pita and kebab board that couldn’t be easier to assemble. The majority of components can be store-bought, so all that’s left for you to do is assemble to your heart’s content.

Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

I repeat: loaded. sweet. potato. fries. I live life by the rule that when I can make a good thing all the better, I will. Sweet potato fries are delicious on their own, but when toppings of your choosing get added to the mix, they become downright addicting. There are endless ways you can customize your bowl, but I like switching between Mediterranean-inspired (chickpeas, salty feta, tzatziki, and kalamata olives) and Mexican (guacamole, pico, black beans, sour cream, cilantro, iceberg lettuce, and cotija). There’s no way you can go wrong.

Bhutta Street Corn Guacamole

You thought your guacamole recipe was good—trust: this one is better. The Indian-inspired appetizer takes the classic base of avocados, cilantro, red onion, and lime up a notch with jalapeño, charred corn, chaat masala, and a kick of red chili powder. You’ve been warned: you’re hosting every movie night after you make this. Simply pop a bag of chips and you’re good to go.

Cookie and Candy Board

For when you’re watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and want to give your movie night all the Willy Wonka vibes. Of course, cookies and candy does not a well-balanced meal make. But if you’re at a loss for what to serve for dessert during the film, it can be as simple as arranging all the good stuff on a board. Take things up a notch and make your own cookies (may I suggest these?). Although, in the spirit of ease and embracing a little laziness, a trip to Trader Joe’s will work just fine.

Vegetarian Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Alongside bowls of butter-laced popcorn, chili is the perfect movie night companion. It’s hearty, warming, and in the case of this recipe, suitable for all dietary needs. With a blend of equally good-for-you and delicious ingredients (hi—sweet potatoes, black beans, peppers, and more) it’ll quickly become a movie night fave. Scratch that, a year-round, top-tier meal.

5. Mimic the Movie Theater

When it comes to movie night ideas, the more the merrier—and you can bet we’re going all in. If you have the space, I like the idea of arranging comfy seats in rows, giving audience members the full cinema experience. Be sure to turn the lights down low, pull the curtains, and maybe even invest in surround sound if you feel so inclined. Remember: this is not your average *scrolls Netflix forever* evening on the couch. It’s movie night! So honor it as such.

Image by Buff Strickland

6. Take the Film Outside

If you live in a warm area or are hosting your movie night during the summer, it can be fun to take the festivities outside. A backyard movie night can make for a magical experience. Invest in a projector, strew blankets, cushions, and pillows along the grass, and pack a picnic of movie-perfect meals. To take the decor a step further, I love the idea of illuminating the space with a set of string lights and lanterns. It’s the perfect way to add a little romance and surprise and delight to your movie night vibes.

7. Offer an Intermission

To send the theater experience home, an intermission is key. Particularly if you’re watching a longer movie (I’m talking Oppenheimer length) or if you’re hosting a movie night with kids, an opportunity to use the bathroom, fill your cup, or grab a snack will be much appreciated.

8. Make It Cozy

Last but not least, you’ll want to keep things cozy all night long. That goes for everything from the living room setup to the food you serve to the movie you watch. (Some people consider horror movies cozy, I’m not one of them.) For all of your movie night ideas, keep this theme of coziness in mind as you plan your evening. With every gathering, even one as simple as a movie night, it’s important to remember that you’re inviting people into your home to be heard, loved, and cherished. In my book, coziness achieves all of that and more.

Your Gut Health Guide—A Nutritionist Shares Her 10 Ultimate Tips for Better Digestion

It’s no secret that we’re gut health fanatics at Camille Styles. From glowing skin and proper digestion—to a steady mental state—we’re not shy about our love for this universal subject. And spoiler alert: we’ve hardly scratched the surface. Containing trillions (yes, trillions) of bacteria, our gut flora has tremendous impact from our head to our toes. With that in mind, we’re diving deep. Get ready to unlock the door to a healthier, more invigorated life—one that begins in the very core of your being. Curious to know how to improve gut health? Read on.

Featured image from our interview with Inge Theron by Teal Thomsen.

Why is gut health important?

Picture your gut as the bustling control center of your body: the place where digestion, immunity, and mood regulation take center stage. Its influence runs the gamut. But here’s the thing—gut health isn’t just about feeling comfortable after a meal. It’s a powerhouse that affects your entire well-being.

As mentioned, your gut is home to trillions of microbes. And they’re constantly working in harmony to digest food, extract nutrients, and shield you from harmful invaders. Simultaneously, a balanced gut bolsters immunity and a happier mind. So, whether you’re chasing boundless energy, a robust immune system, or a better demeanor, nurturing your gut health is the not-so-secret secret to unlocking your body’s full potential.

Image by Belathée Photography

Do you have a healthy gut?

Let’s begin here. Ultimately, a healthy gut microbiome isn’t one-size-fits all. It manifests itself in various subtle—yet significant—ways. Here are signs your gut flora might be in good shape:

Regular digestion. You experience regular, comfortable bowel movements without excessive bloating, gas, or discomfort.

Balanced appetite. You have a well-regulated appetite and don’t experience intense (and frequent) cravings for sugary foods. Instead, you tend to crave nutrient-dense foods rather than highly-processed options.

Minimal food sensitivities. You can tolerate a wide variety of foods without experiencing frequent digestive discomfort or sensitivities.

Stable mood. Your mood is generally positive, and you experience fewer mood swings, anxiety, or feelings of depression.

Strong immunity. You don’t get sick very often and recover fairly quickly when you do fall ill.

Clear skin. Your skin appears healthy, with fewer breakouts, dryness, and irritations.

Optimal weight. You maintain a healthy weight without extreme fluctuations or difficulty managing it.

Steady energy levels. You have consistent energy levels throughout the day, without daily crashes or fatigue.

Restful sleep. Speaking of energy, you get quality sleep, falling asleep relatively easy and waking up refreshed.

Strong nails and hair. Your nails are strong, and your hair is healthy and growing well.

Good oral health. Your gums are pink and healthy, and you have minimal issues with bad breath or dental problems.

Regular exercise tolerance. You can engage in moderate movement without excessive fatigue or delayed recovery.

Balanced stress response. Overall, you manage stress well. Your body doesn’t overreact to minor stressors. In turn, you experience clearer thinking and improved focus throughout the day.

Regular blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar levels remain stable without drastic fluctuations.

Proper hormonal balance. You experience regular and comfortable menstrual cycles (if you currently menstruate). Hormonal imbalances are minimal.

Image by Michelle Nash

Telltale Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the telltale signs of a not-so-healthy gut? Oftentimes, a malfunctioning gut sends distinct signals. Think: frequent digestive discomfort (i.e., bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements). Additionally, unexplained weight fluctuations could be linked to poor gut health. For others, skin problems suggest an underlying gut issue—persistent acne, eczema, or rashes.

Constantly sick? Frequent infections or slow recovery could also point to an imbalanced gut. Furthermore, mood disruptions (chronic stress, anxiety, depression, etc.) might originate from an unhealthy gut-brain connection. Last but not least, intense sugar cravings and unhealthy food preferences could be signs of an out-of-balance gut microbiome.

If you experience these persistent symptoms, chat with your healthcare provider.

What are gut health wreckers?

If your gut microbiome isn’t where you want it to be, don’t fret. Between chatting with your healthcare provider and implementing our tips to improve gut health, you’ll be well on your way. That said, what are factors that can significantly disrupt your digestion?

  1. Poor diet. A diet high in ultra-processed foods, sugar (especially artificial sweeteners), and trans fats, and low in fiber and fermented foods can negatively impact gut health. These things encourage harmful bacteria to grow, reducing the diversity of beneficial ones.
  2. Antibiotics. While antibiotics are important for treating infections, overuse or misuse can kill off both harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to imbalances.
  3. Chronic infections. On the flip side, frequent or untreated infections can disturb the balance of the gut microbiome.
  4. Chronic stress. Prolonged stress can alter the gut-brain communication, leading to inflammation and changes in gut motility and function.
  5. Lack of sleep. Newborn stage aside, consistent sleep is key. After all, inadequate sleep can disrupt the gut microbiome, contributing to inflammation and other health issues.
  6. Lack of physical activity: Sedentary lifestyles can negatively impact gut health by reducing microbial diversity and impairing digestion.
  7. Excessive alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption can damage the gut lining and alter the balance of gut bacteria. The same goes for smoking.
  8. Environmental toxins. Exposure to pollutants and environmental toxins can affect gut health. They disrupt the microbiome’s delicate balance.
  9. Uncontrolled diabetes. Poorly managed diabetes (as well as blood sugar levels) can alter gut health and contribute to gastrointestinal issues.
  10. Dehydration. Drink up! Dehydration can affect digestion and gut motility, leading to constipation and other issues.
Image by Michelle Nash

Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

At the end of the day, gut health is about more than just eating fiber and taking a probiotic. Below are 10 important (but often underestimated!) tips to support a healthier gut:

1. Manage Stress

Not to sound like a broken record, but chronic stress can negatively impact your gut health. Aim to practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness every day. These can have a lasting impact on your gut.

2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining gut health. Water helps with digestion, absorption, and maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. Don’t love plain H2O? Add citrus, fresh herbs, or berries. Bone broth and tea count, too.

3. Prioritize A Diverse Diet

Specifically, enjoy a wide variety of foods rich in prebiotics (fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) to nourish beneficial gut bacteria. Fermented foods are ideal as well: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.

4. Limit Artificial Sweeteners

Research shows that artificial sweeteners may negatively impact gut bacteria. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead. The same goes for preservatives and emulsifiers, like guar gum.

5. Properly Prepare Grains and Legumes

Did you know that soaking and fermenting legumes and grains can reduce anti-nutrients? This, in turn, makes them easier to digest.

6. Chew Thoroughly

Ever scarfed down your meal and left blah after? Same. Keep in mind that proper chewing breaks down food into smaller particles, making it easier for your gut to digest and absorb nutrients. Don’t fret about a specific number of bites, but hone in the flavors in every mouthful and put your fork down often.

7. Consider Intermittent Fasting

While this dietary pattern isn’t for everyone, intermittent fasting (also known as time-restricted eating) can promote gut health. How so? It gives your digestive system a break and supports the balance of gut bacteria.

8. Get Adequate Sleep

Unfortunately, poor sleep impacts more than just your gut microbiome. Prioritize getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support gut health. We’ve got plenty of tips and tricks.

9. Play In The Dirt

That’s right. Exposure to some dirt and germs can help develop a stronger immune system and healthier gut. Embrace a balanced approach to cleanliness. Start a garden!

10. Move Your Body

And no, this doesn’t mean daily HIIT. Walking is great. Exercise promotes a diverse gut microbiome and improves gut motility. Aim for regular (mild to moderate) physical activity to keep your gut in top shape.

The Takeaway

Remember, your body (and its microbiome) is unique. Experiment with these tips and find what works best for you. And start slow! When it comes to gut health, taking a holistic approach is best. Whether you’re savoring a diverse range of foods, practicing stress-relief techniques, or simply giving your body the rest it deserves, every action counts. Embrace the wisdom of your gut, and let it guide you toward a life brimming with vitality, energy, and radiant health.