Is a Good Night’s Sleep the Most Elusive Wellness Commodity?

Deranged. Dysfunctional. Unwell. The words tumble out of my mouth like some haiku for the miserable as I sit in the Connecticut office of Andrew Tucker, Ph.D., for the first time. A clinical psychologist specializing in sleep disorders, Tucker knows an insomniac when he sees one: I am ashen and shadowed, like a real-life manifestation of an Egon Schiele painting.

I had problems long before online shopping and Succession marathons conspired to compromise my precious evening unwind time. But lately, due to ceaseless travel and an uptick in anxiety, shut-eye all but eluded me. I had rotated through a rogue’s pharmacy of antihistamines, cannabinoids, sleeping pills, and teas; I even tried meditation apps, desperate to be knocked out for the night. Nothing worked. “This is science,” Tucker reassures me. “No sleep issue is insurmountable, including yours.”

We, as a society, have reached peak exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in three Americans suffers from sleep deprivation, making it a veritable public-health crisis. Declining work productivity and traffic accidents are all on the rise, while studies link inadequate sleep to Alzheimer’s, hypertension, depression, and diabetes. Along with good eating habits and exercise, sleep is critical for the optimal functioning of our biological systems, says Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg, M.D., the medical director of sleep medicine at Millennium Physician Group in Fort Myers, Florida. “It is one of the three pillars of health, and the ultimate necessity,” she continues. But the lack of it and longing for it have made it the ultimate luxury in our maxed-out culture. “Sleep is the most valued commodity there is, and you can’t buy it,” confirms Sara Ivanhoe, M.A., the director of yoga programs at the University of Southern California, where she teaches a course on sleep. “If it evades you, it is impossible to enjoy almost anything.”

Veronica Lee was so familiar with this affliction, she left the financial tech company she was building in Silicon Valley to create a new one devoted to alleviating it. Combining naturopathy, Chinese herbs, vitamins, and algorithms, Lee’s start-up, Remrise, aims to match you with a personalized supplement regimen via an online questionnaire. “I wanted to reinvent the idea of a sleep aid,” the 37-year-old says of the platform, which was incubated at Atomic start-up studio and has already secured $8.2 million in funding. Other innovators are hoping to capitalize on the movement toward better sleep by rethinking what a healthy night’s slumber looks like, no NyQuil or Ambien required. The company Eight Sleep, beloved by athletes and trainers, has been bankrolled to the tune of $65 million, helping to popularize its temperature-controlled mattress. Embedded with sensors that track your biometrics, the system was designed in the pursuit of what cofounder Alexandra Zatarain, 30, calls “sleep fitness.” Innumerable hotels—including Equinox’s new lifestyle concept—have caught on to the idea, offering sleep coaching as part of their wellness menus. Meanwhile, a new weighted blanket from the Hungarian brand Corala is filled with glass beads that purport to swaddle you to sleep; I recently tried it while sheathed in an oversize silk sleep mask from the Danish brand The Beauty Sleeper and an Italian cotton nightgown from Emilia Wickstead’s new sleepwear collection.

But my problem isn’t comfort. It is waking up at 2 a.m., ruminating on a messy manuscript or the latest gun tragedy. No new-to-market sleep aid has been able to part the subsequent daytime fog in my brain—and that’s not surprising, says Suzanne Bertisch, M.D., clinical director of behavioral sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “For people with real sleep disorders, I generally recommend sticking to evidence-based behavioral treatments because they tap into your basic biology and retrain your brain to sleep,” Bertisch explains.

One of those treatments is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a protocol designed to alter detrimental thoughts and behaviors. After conducting a psychological, genetic, and medical history to identify the causes of my insomnia, Tucker asks me to keep a sleep log, indicating when I have caffeine or alcohol, when I lie down and wake up, and what substances I am using to force the issue. The graphs look like the scribbles of a madwoman, but they reveal something interesting: Tucker points out that, just like the rest of our body, the part of our brain that controls the circadian rhythm—our natural clock that generates our sleep-wake cycle—begins to deteriorate as we age, and mine has weakened considerably. With CBT, I could recondition it with targeted strengthening strategies. “It’s like training for a 5K,” he says.

“Sleep is the most valued commodity there is, and you can’t buy it. If it evades you, it is impossible to enjoy almost anything”

After discovering that the Wellbutrin I take for mild depression can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, I wean myself off the pills under Tucker’s supervision. Then I launch into “sleep-restriction therapy,” during which I implement a 12 a.m. bedtime and a 6:30 a.m. wake-up in an effort to promote shorter, deeper, and richer sleep. Three hours before midnight, I also take three milligrams of melatonin, the body’s natural hormone that makes us drowsy, and incorporate 30 minutes of direct daylight in the morning to stop its natural release. No more THC drops or nibbles on Benadryl and, alas, no alcohol, not even a glass of wine with dinner. (Along with its sedating effects, alcohol may cause sleep disturbances when it metabolizes.) And while I fear the addictive qualities of sleeping pills, Tucker assures me that their careful, periodic use could still be an important tool for me to manage jet lag.

It is strange to live in a world where every day, we hear about the importance of healthy sleep, yet where more distractions are thrown our way to keep us from getting it. But four months after I’ve been sticking to a plan designed to mitigate my own insomnia-causing triggers, my bed is no longer a torture chamber where I spend untold hours in despair. “Your bed should be for two things: sleep and sex,” jokes Abbasi-Feinberg—and for waking up refreshed, preferably in an impossibly soft Italian-cotton nightgown.

Originally appeared in Vogue.


200-Hr Yoga Teacher Training Info Session

The Be Well 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program approaches teaching from the dual perspective of deepening your own personal practice through self consciousness and body awareness, then learning to teach students an anatomically safe and well sequenced yoga class. Our training incorporates teachings from various styles of Yoga including Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Yin to allow you to find your individual teaching style. Anatomy, proper alignment and safe sequencing are core of our curriculum. And of course FUN!

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300-Hr Yoga Teacher Training Info Session

Our 300hr Advanced Teaching Training dives deeper into the art of teaching. This comprehensive program is designed to help you become a more effective and confident teacher in developing your skills in the following areas: anatomy and alignment, sequencing, philosophy and ethics, effective language and cueing, plus so much more! Upon completion of this training you will be able to register with the Yoga Alliance as a 500hr RYT (registered yoga teacher).

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Open House – June 2, 2019

ALL ARE WELCOME for a full day of wellness at our 2019 Open House.

All services are free with a suggested $20 donation to The Seeing Eye for your day pass. We are only selling 35 day passes, so be sure to reserve yours via the registration button below.

We will have light refreshments and goody bags for all attendees. You will get to meet some of our health professionals and spend the whole day relaxing and rejuvenating. This is truly going to be a wonderful experience.

  • 10:30am: Restorative Yoga, with Beth O'Brien, E-RYT 500, PYT 85
  • 11:45am: The Impact of Stress on Your Body, with Melanie Croce-Galis, MPH, RN, LMT
  • 12:30pm: Stress Management Techniques, with Jennifer Gamper Meehan LCSW, RN
  • 1:15pm: Acupuncture 101/Experience it, with Carolyn Raiman, LAc
  • 2:30pm: 10 tips for sustainable weight loss, with Gabrielle Rutenberg RDN
  • 3:30pm: Power Hour Yoga, with Marisa Sweeney RDN, RYT-200

Light refreshments will be served and everyone will leave with a goody bag!


The Most Important Meal of the Day

by Desiree Martin

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? There is a lot of fuss about breakfast and whether it truly is the most important meal of the day or not. I generally recommend trying to eat within the first two hours of waking up. You wouldn’t continue to drive your car on empty, would you? The same goes for your body. Two hours after waking up, you are now running on empty! Your metabolism won’t switch into its full acceleration until you have provided some fuel.

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Smoothies: Yay or Nay?

by Desiree Martin

Smoothies and smoothie bowl stands seem to be popping up all over the place nowadays. A smoothie can be a wonderful way to jam pack a ton of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fiber into a small cup. However, smoothies can also turn into blood sugar spiking drink loaded with a ton of calories and sugar leaving us unsatisfied and hungry not too long after consumption. How can we ensure that our smoothie is helping us get in proper nutrition and satiety and not hurting us? You need to be mindful of things that can add unnecessary carbs/sugar to your smoothies such as: too MUCH fruit (yes this can be an issue), fruit juice, honey, yogurt, and milk.

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Yoga Teacher Training Info Session – Nov 2018

All are welcome to come to our FREE Info Session, Class, and Training Demo, to see what our yoga teacher training is all about!

FREE info session on Sun, Nov 11 at 12:00pm. Click here to download the Yoga Teacher Training Guide (pdf).

The Be Well 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program approaches teaching from the dual perspective of deepening your own personal practice through self consciousness and body awareness, then learning to teach students an anatomically safe and well sequenced yoga class. Our training incorporates teachings from various styles of Yoga including Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Yin to allow you to find your individual teaching style. Anatomy, proper alignment and safe sequencing are core of our curriculum. And of course FUN!

Learning Objectives:
1. Alignment
2. Anatomy
3. Asanas
4. Sanskrit
5. Pranayama
6. Meditation and Yoga Nidra
7. Business and Ethics
8. Yoga Philosophy
9. Sequencing
10. Art of Teaching a Class

Dates and Times:
Fridays 6-9pm
Saturdays 12-8pm
Sundays 12-8pm

January 11, 12, 13
January 25, 26, 27

February 8, 9, 10
February 22, 23, 24

March 8, 9, 10
March 22, 23, 24

April 5, 6, 7
April 27, 28, 29

May 3, 4, 5
May 17, 18, 19


85-Hr YA Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

Taught by Beth O’Brien, E-RYT 500, E-PNT 85, Certified Teacher for Postpartum and Yoga for Labor and Birth.

Join us for a FREE info session on Saturday, June 16 from 1:30pm – 3:30pm.

This training prepares Yoga teachers to teach classes in Prenatal Yoga. The specialized prenatal practice will help your pregnant students become aware of the changes to the body from pregnancy while promoting relaxation and suppleness to the muscles. Prenatal Yoga poses, pranayama, chanting, and visualizations are powerful tools for the mother to attune herself to her baby and its needs.

An in-depth review of the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, labor, and birth lays the foundation for teachers’ understanding of the myriad benefits of a flowing Hatha Yoga practice for pregnancy. Students in this program will gain extensive experience with yoga poses/asanas suited to pregnant women and a thorough acquaintance with contraindications of the various poses during pregnancy. The training will sensitize teachers to the profound physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual transitions of pregnancy and birth and demonstrate how such techniques as chanting, pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation can be effective ways of coping with these changes and pregnancy discomforts through each trimester.

Discussions of the energy anatomy of pregnancy and birth will deepen the yoga teachers’ knowledge of the Hatha Yoga prenatal practice.

Students will also be afforded the opportunity to observe prenatal classes throughout the training. Be Well’s Yoga Prenatal Teacher certification includes teaching a practicum. Students may schedule their practicum at the end of the training with the Lead Trainer.