Queen of Sleep

Living with narcolepsy: a personal journey

Archive for the ‘Lifestyle Tips’ Category

Foods that harm and foods that help Sleep

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Best and Worst Foods for Sleep – Health.com. Who knew cherries were good to eat before bed time?

Bowl of cherries

via Foods that harm and foods that help Sleep.


Written by Queen of Sleep

October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Low Salt Diet Tips for Sodium Oxybate Users

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Salt in our diet is a vital substance and helps to control the amount of water in our bodies,  the PH of the blood, assists to transmit nerve signals and to contracts our muscles.  It is present in all of our foods to a varied degree and especially processed foods. Most of us eat well over the recommended daily amount (6mg). if you take Sodium Oxybate/Xyrem you should have been informed by your doctor to lower your daily intake, especially if it is over 6 mg a day but how do you do it? Excessive amounts of salt is hidden in so many consumer foods nowadays that it is sometimes tricky to find out and to remember. On a regular basis, I try to avoid, fast food, processed food, ready meals and canned meals as well as eating out in restaurants usually contain excessive amounts of salt (and other additives) so try to stick to whole and fresh foods. Take up cooking as a hobby and make everything from scratch. Whenever I try to cut corners with my food I always end up more sleepy than before. The BBC website offers good  practical steps to reduce salt intake. If you’re checking labels, here’s a guide based on 100g/ml of product:

  • A lot of salt = 1.25g salt (or 0.5g sodium) – would be labelled as red on a traffic light labelling system
  • A little salt = 0.25g salt (0.1g sodium) – would be labelled as green on a traffic light labelling system
  • Anything in-between these figures indicates a moderate amount of salt

More ways to reduce salt intake:

  • Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to flavour vegetables
  • Avoid adding salt to your food when eating
  • Use soy sauce sparingly: one teaspoon contains about 0.36gof sodium (equivalent to 0.9g salt)
  • Buy fresh or frozen vegetables, or those canned without salt
  • Rinse canned foods, such as beans, to remove excess salt
  • Choose breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium
  • Buy low or reduced sodium versions, or those with no salt added

I have also found a US website that lists the top ten sources of salt in your diet: Bread and rolls, Cold cuts/cured meats, Pizza, Fresh and processed poultry, Soups, Sandwiches like cheeseburgers, Cheese, Pasta dishes like spaghetti with meat sauce, Meat dishes like meatloaf with tomato sauce, Snacks, including chips, pretzels, popcorn and puffs. If you visit their website you can also read the percentages broken down across the listed foods. They also write that the food we salt ourselves i.e. home cooked foods only account for 5-6% of our entire daily consumed amount of salt.

Personally, I don’t have a high salt intake – possibly the opposite. On a few occasions on holiday abroad, I have had cramps because I didn’t salt my food enough!! I don’t normally use salt a lot so I just continued to eat the same amount while spending time being active in 30 degrees heat. Not recommended!

Himalayan Crystal salts have been on the market for quite a while and to be honest I am not too keen on the flavour but do have a look at this amazing salt cave cafe treatment space outside of Manchester called Himalayan Salt Cave.

Last time I visited Sweden I found blue salt. It is really pretty salt with blue flecks of salt mixed in with a slightly translucent small pieces of salt. It’s called Iran Blue Salt from la collina toscana.  I have also found a Swedish salt that is supposed to taste like a storm at sea and is suitably called Storm.  The most famous of British salt is Maldon, a delicious variety from Essex. Essentially the bottom line is: don’t eat crap salt, control your intake and buy British (eh or Swedish obviously!)!

Written by Queen of Sleep

February 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

Does Cheese give you Nightmares?

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…or is it just an urban myth? You are naturally very prone to dreaming if you each rich/sugary foods right before bedtime so if you tried eating cheese before sleeping I think you would be more likely to dream than not, in combination with the suggestion that you will experience “nightmares”, you have set your brain up for some wacky night. It think the whole argument sounds odd but  The British Cheese Board conducted a study and found that different types of cheese do seem to influence the types of dreams individuals may have. They claim that Stilton can cause bizarre and vivid dreams;  Red Leicester is thought to provoke nostalgia and Cheshire causes the least dreaming of them all. Read more Here.It gets weirder…It would be very interesting to find out exactly what ingredient/chemical process triggers nostalgia in Red Leicester and weather MRI scans were used in the experiment but I haven’t been able to find any in-depth data.

The British Cheese Board  dispels the urban myth that Cheese causes nightmares but they claim that it induces dreams, lovely dreams, creative dreams. I dream so much that it’s quite tricky to say what kind of dream is a night mare and what kind of dream is not as my dreams are constantly changing in theme within the dream. I have been eating more cheese around Christmas time than at any other time of the year and I can honestly say that I have not had increased nightmares. It appears to be another marketing jippo/exercise but I have to admit it’s a fun idea.

The BC  also write that cheese contains tryptophan – a substance that can help reduce stress and actually induce a good night’s sleep. ….which is…

Tryptophan is one of the standard 20 amino acids as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet which means that it must be part of our diet. They act as building blocks in the body’s manufacturing process of protein. It also works a precursor for:  the production of serotonin which in turn can be converted to melatonin. So far so good, don’t exclude cheese but keep the tryptophan rich foods such as cheese and turkey for moments when you need energy i.e. not right before bedtime.

I sleep best when I don’t dream intensively so eating cheese or anything at all before bedtime makes my sleep even worse and I dream more, move more and so it prevents me from getting a nights restful sleep.

Written by Queen of Sleep

February 7, 2012 at 8:08 am

Queen of Sleep is back from no net reception!

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How many sheep can you count?

I have been on a writing course and a holiday in areas of England with no internet access at all. Who knew they existed in 2011?

It’s been lovely, restful and absolutely amazing and that is just an understatement. I have pushed my energy levels to the max but been with people I trust so I have felt absolutely safe. I wonder why it seems so difficult for some people to understand what living with narcolepsy is really like and so easy for some others. It is probably a combination of life experience and empathy skills that makes all the difference. Imagination and the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes/situation and really feel what it could be like to have/be “……….” The ability to feel empathy is only the beginning. Some need processing time or will try to help straight away. For example, I can cure you with XYZ. Maturity in facing difference can only come from knowing that 1. Never give advice without having been asked. 2. Listen (properly) 3. realise and accept that you and your history (point of view) is one of many and that your advice might not be right and yet that at the same there could be one of many right answers. People are quick to judge and quick to categorise in order to feel more secure. I have pushed many potential friends away by being too upfront and in your face with explaining EVERYTHING about narcolepsy. Perhaps it’s a stage you have to go through when dealing with and accepting a condition. I feel that I have now left it behind and my personality has started to come forward more.

There are stages in life that could affect the quality of sleep for women, for example pregnancy, here is a summary of these:

20’s and 30’s: Check your thyroid. My neurologist checked my thyroid as part of the Narcolepsy diagnosis. New moms can get postpartum thyroiditis, which 5 to 10 percent of women develop in the year following delivery. If you’re too jumpy to sleep or have extreme fatigue postpartum, see your doctor.

20’s and 30’s: Depression – feeling blue can cause sleep difficulties some antidepressants may also have sleep related side effects. Ask your doctor about your antidepressants!

40’s: Check when/how often you go to the toilet at night! It could be a urinary tract infection because .”Decreasing estrogen levels in the mid-40s leads to a thinning of the lining of the vagina and bladder, which makes perimenopausal women more prone to infection,” says Dr. Corio, author of The Change Before The Change. Talk to your doc if you notice a change in your bathroom habits.

40’s: Deep sleep decreases in your late 40’s making night-time awakenings more frequent. Improve your restorative sleep  (called delta or slow-wave sleep) by exercise more. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on most days, suggests Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Your 50s+: Check the prescription drugs you may be taking for high blood pressure and cholesterol. They could affect your sleep. Check with your GP and if it is a potential problem ask if it might improve your sleep to take the pills in the morning instead of the evening.

Your 50s+: Check the prescription drugs: statins for cholesterol-control can deplete your body’s muscles of co-enzyme Q10, a natural protein required for normal functioning of muscle cells; the resulting muscle aches might make falling asleep a challenge. Ask your GP/Neurologist/Sleep Doctor if you might benefit from taking a co-Q10 supplement.

Your 50s+: Snoring and Sleep Apnea (OSA). There is a greater possibility to develop sleep apnea after the menopause when progesterone levels drop and it’s common to gain some weight.


Written by Queen of Sleep

May 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

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Written by Queen of Sleep

March 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Lifestyle Tips

Tips To Battle Your Sleep Disorders And Get Some Rest by Dr. Georgianna Donadio/Whole Health and Nutrition Expert: at DailyStrength Doctors and Advisors

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Tips To Battle Your Sleep Disorders And Get Some Rest by Dr. Georgianna Donadio/Whole Health and Nutrition Expert: at DailyStrength Doctors and Advisors.

Dr. G Donadio writes that :The lack of proper sleep impacts our immune system, blood pressure, digestive function and even our mental clarity.

Queen of Sleep writes: Immune system, tick! Digestive function, tick! Mental clarity, tick! Stress, tick! Lack of exercise, tick!

Can you believe it? There are 90 known sleep disorders! She adds that RLS is the most common sleep disorder. Occasionally, I get it if I loose my routine and fall victim to stress but what I didn’t know is that it potentially can be relieved/improved with a calcium supplement before bedtime.

She ends the article with suggesting sufferers to take a whole food mineral supplement and multi-vitamin. She sounds like my kind of Dr. because these are most of the areas I have targeted in the last year that have had a positive effect in helping me manage narcolepsy better.

Written by Queen of Sleep

March 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

How To Use Thought Stopping to Vanquish Negative Emotions by Susan Quinn/Therapist: at DailyStrength Doctors and Advisors

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Written by Queen of Sleep

February 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Lifestyle Tips

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