Are you getting enough sleep? #RachelleAyala @Mimisgang1 #mgtab

How many hours of sleep do you get every night? How many hours do you believe you need?

For many years, I was a firm believer that I only needed five hours per night. I gloried that I was one of those “short sleepers,” especially since I would stay up until 3 or 4 am writing or working and then get up again at 6 to go to work. After all, I reasoned I could do a whole lot more without wasting time with sleep.

That was before I heard of Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology from UC Berkeley. Part of my late night forays is watching self-help videos on Youtube, so it was inevitable that their algorithm would steer me to mind-hacking through better sleep. Wait, what? You mean I can sleep my way to a better life?

Unfortunately, being type A, and an incessant publisher, I had a hard time relating to what he said–until I realized a few salient points.

  • Lack of sleep effects the memory big time. A decade ago, when I first started writing, I could not only keep track of my own storyline but also the characters, events, motivations, goals, and themes of dozens of critique partners as well as published authors who brainstormed with me on their characters. I was always able to say, “Remember when Cassie did this or thought that?” And they were like, “Huh? Oh, which book was that?” Guess what? Now, I’m the one being reminded by my editor that I did that already, or a few paragraphs back this already happened. I now have to keep cheatsheets of my own books or re-read a book and take notes if I want to continue the series. Matthew Walker cites tons of stats about the percentage of memory loss in his speeches. I won’t repeat them here, but it turns out that when you go to sleep, your brain is re-recording or cutting grooves [think of a vinyl record] to store the memory and it does it again and again and again. He talks about imaging rat brains the night after they learned a maze.
  • Lack of sleep makes you emotionally raw. Have you noticed how easily you fly off the handle if you’re tired and bedraggled? How little things that normally won’t bother you will make you go ballistic? Or you get weepy at stories that are only a tiny bit sentimental. Or like a never-ending earworm, you have a worry worm circling your heart filled with anxiety? Matthew Walker tells us that dream sleep is incredibly “therapeutic,” in that it allows you to supposedly unemotionally process the stories of your life and create links to previous stories or experiences. I’m not exactly sure what my recurring and frustrating dreams about broken computer code and or not realizing I have a final exam when I’ve cut all the classes and not done the homework are all about. Maybe it’s PTSD from my academic and computer related work. Recently, though, I’ve been having escape and rescue dreams involving me saving small children and babies under attack. We’re always running and hiding in underground tunnels while terrorists are hunting us or fleeing in disguise in the backs of trucks or buses or safe houses. Don’t try to analyze that! I’d rather have fun foodie dreams where I can eat all the cakes and cookies and goodies without gaining a single calorie. But according to Walker, these dreams are calming my emotions, so I’ll be grateful that they’re only dreams. And the babies or toddlers [who I don’t recognize, but could if I met them in real life] are adorable. The ones last night were twins. My husband had the heavier boy and I had the lighter girl who had a full head of black hair and large brown eyes who called me “Yaya.”
  • Lack of sleep shortens your life and predisposes you to Alzheimers. Yikes, he has proof. According to his studies, sleep is the best blood pressure medication. Sleep also cleans up the “glop” that gathers in the brains of Alzheimers patients. Lack of sleep also shrinks the testicles big time and lowers both men’s and women’s testosterone levels. And of course there’s the immune system. We all know that sleep builds it, and these days, it’s so important.

He’s so adamant about sleep that he says there is no one healthy who gets less than seven (7) hours of sleep per night. Watch the entire video, but let’s start with the testicles.

Looks like I’m going to be getting more sleep. I plan on going to bed two hours earlier, or at least not staying up past midnight. I’m also going to cut down on caffeine after lunchtime.

He also gives one big tip on what to do if you WAKE UP in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. He says not to lie there worrying because you will be training your body that bed is for worrying and not sleeping. Instead, get up and go to another room. Put on a dim light, not bright, and read a book. Then when you’re feeling drowsy, put the book away and go back to bed. An alternative is to listen to an audiobook but do not lie in bed. A change of position is needed so your body associates bed with sleep and one other activity only.

You knew I had to bring in my books somehow, right? I have eighty-four (84) published books to help you get better sleep, including three (3) free audiobooks and nine (9) free ebooks. [Go to for the free audiobooks and ebooks and for my booklist] I’m also in a lot of the Authors Billboard boxed sets. Start with five (5) free Authors Billboard Fabulous Freebies. Choose between sweet and steamy books. Did you know Alexa can also read your ebooks to you? Tell her to read in a low voice and before long, you will be back in dreamland and hacking your mind and life to better health and happiness.

Check out Matthew Walker’s full video here:

Happy Sleeping! – Rachelle Ayala

Snacks, 100 Calories or Less – #HealthyEating by @Donna_Fasano

Let’s face it, we all overeat now and then. Whenever I overindulge, I do what I can to get myself back on track as quickly as possible. Here’s a list of my go-to snacks when I’m focused on sticking to 1200-1400 calories per day:


  1. 1 cup frozen seedless green grapes – 65 calories
  2. 1/4 cup wasabi peas – 100 calories
  3. 1/2 cup of slow-churned ice cream – 100 calories
  4. 2 stalks celery (about 7” long) and 2 tablespoons hummus – 100 calories
  5. 30 goldfish crackers – 100 calories
  6. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and a small wedge of cantaloupe – 100 calories
  7. 2 tablespoons PB2 spread on 1/2 granny smith apple – 90 calories (PB2 is powdered peanut butter that is 80% fat free. Mix 2 tablespoons PB2 with 1 tablespoon water.)
  8. 1/2 of a medium-sized baked potato and a heaping tablespoon of salsa – 100 calories
  9. 8 baby carrots – 100 calories
  10. 2 Tablespoons PB2 spread on 2 stalks celery – 66 calories
  11. 1 cup of tomato soup – 75 calories
  12. 1/2 banana (sliced and frozen) dipped in 2 teaspoons dark chocolate chips (melted)  – 100 calories
  13. 1/3 cup Greek Gods Vanilla Honey yogurt – 96 calories
  14. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon – 75 calories
  15. Banana smoothie – blend 1/2 a banana, 1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, and a handful of crushed ice – 100 calories
  16. 2 long pretzel rods dipped in 2 teaspoons yellow mustard – 77 calories
  17. 1/2 cup steamed edamame (shelled) with a splash of soy sauce – 100 calories
  18. 16 cherry tomatoes sliced in half, 1/8 cup crumbled feta cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – 95 calories
What are YOUR go-to snacks when you’re trying to get your diet and your weight back on track?

~  ~  ~

This month, I’m offering A REASON TO BELIEVE to Kindle readers for just 99¢. You save $3 off the regular price!

A Reason To Believe

A Real Fairy Tale

It seems like a grand idea, temporarily trading her pixie wings for a womanly form to help handsome widower Paul Roland with his baby girl. And the moment she holds the precious bairn in her arms, Fern knows true happiness for the first time.

But Fern never anticipates the dizzying emotions she feels for the man who not only needs her as a nanny, but as a woman whose passion can heal his wounded heart. Suddenly the forbidden fairy rule she gently bends because of the baby is in danger of being irrevocably broken.

Some things are meant to be…

How To Eat ~ 3 Simple Rules by @Donna_Fasano #HealthyLiving

How To EatI don’t know about you, but I love food. There aren’t very many food items that I won’t eat. Over the course of my life, I’ve been skinny and I’ve been chunky. I’m happy to say that, right now, I’m at a weight that is healthy for me. Here are the three simple rules I used to get there.

Eat Mindfully

Three times each day we have the opportunity to truly practice who we are and what we believe. All of us should ask ourselves a few questions about what we’re eating. Are whole foods healthier for me than processed foods? Am I bothered by what the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers is doing to our planet? Am I concerned with GMOs? Do I want to contribute to my local economy? You could probably think of many more profound questions to ponder… and I invite you to suggest them in the comment section.

Eat Just Enough

My beloved father has passed away. But when eating out, his favorite places to go were “all you can eat” buffets. He was obese and suffered with Type 2 Diabetes. I inherited my love of food from my dad and I’ve come to realize that I am often compelled to eat for reasons other than hunger. I try really hard not to do that, although I have to admit that I fail every once in a while.

As I get older, I find that I am eating less. My metabolism has slowed down, so I don’t need as many calories. I feel better when I eat smaller meals; I suffer fewer bouts of heartburn and bloating. I’m not telling you to go hungry. I’m only suggesting that you eat just enough to feel satisfied and then stop.

Eat Mostly Plants

It’s a fact: eating meat contributes to heart disease, cancer, and a shortened life span. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that animals used for food are treated with abject cruelty. Many years ago, in the time of the hunter/gatherer, there was a deep sense of gratitude, even reverence, offered to any animal that gave its life to the hunter; the sacrifice of the animal was recognized and appreciated. We’ve completely lost sight of that concept. Today, we do the slaughtering in hiding, and the practice is horrendous. A tiny bit of research will show you it’s true. Everyone who eats meat should take the time to really think about how that steak, that bacon, that fried chicken came to be on their plate.

Am I telling you to become vegetarian? Absolutely not. I eat meat. I just don’t eat it very often. And when I do, I do it mindfully.

Reverse Heart Disease

Did you know that a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease? It’s true! Other great reasons to eat mostly plants:

  • Most veggies have only 10 to 50 calories per cup, while 1 cup of cooked ground beef contains 340 calories with 44% saturated fat.
  • Eating plants is better for the environment. It takes 15 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of beef, and 5 pounds of grain to raise 1 pound of chicken. Animal products are the highest producers of greenhouse gases. It takes 460 gallons of water to produce one quarter-pound hamburger. Wow!
  • It’s cheaper. The average “fast food” meal for a family of 4 costs an average of $24. Well, you can cook a whole pot of lentil soup and serve a fresh salad with a loaf of crusty, fresh-baked bread, and the meal will cost right around $10 for that same family of 4.

I guess what I’m trying to do is get you to think before you eat. I am still a firm believer in the old adage “all things in moderation.” I still have a sweet tooth, and I work hard to get in my 10,000 steps per day, but if we practice more conscious living, all of us will be the better for it.

How do you feel about my 3 simple rules for how to eat? Are there any rules you would add?

15 Feel Good New Year Resolutions

Many people will make New Year resolutions to ring in 2020, but we seldom keep our promises for very long. Reevaluating your life is hard stuff! Here’s a list of New Year resolutions that will make you feel better, physically and mentally. These suggestions aren’t that difficult and are sure to make you feel happier about who you are.   

  1. Practice anonymous random acts of kindness.
  2. Make at least one person smile each day.
  3. Read at least one book each month. (Don’t forget to review it. The author will SMILE! See resolution #2.)
  4. Go someplace you’ve never been.
  5. Be kinder to yourself.
  6. Be kinder to others.
  7. Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
  8. Take the stairs. It’s good for you.
  9. Let go of old hurts and grudges.
  10. Forgive.
  11. Try a new hobby.
  12. Donate all clothing you haven’t worn in a year.
  13. Start and end each day consciously feeling happy and grateful.
  14. Buy less plastic. It’s bad for our planet.
  15. Stay in touch with the people who matter.

What New Year resolutions would you add to the list?

Jan 99¢ Sale!

TWO HEARTS IN WINTER is book 2 of The Ocean City Boardwalk Series. The book is available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes iBooks.

15 Feel Good New Year Resolutions