Queen of Sleep

Living with narcolepsy: a personal journey

Posts Tagged ‘nutrition

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

Molly Hartwick On Sleep Disorders among Cancer Patients

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Gypsophila Paniculata can help to break down cancer cell membranes

What kind of sleep disorders do cancer patients have, and how can sleep disorders affect cancer patients?

Acid Reflux, also known as GERD, is one sleep disorder that can lead to cancer, according to an article, “GERD and Sleep,” on the official website of the National Sleep Foundation. The disease, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, affects five to seven percent of the world’s population, and those with the problem have nighttime heartburn. Those with the problem often have insomnia, restless legs syndrome daytime sleepiness, and sleep apnea in greater degrees than those without it. People with the disease often cough and choke while sleeping or attempting to sleep.

According to the article, “Sleep Disorders,” on the official government website, cancer.gov, the diagnosis of cancer, is one factor, along with anxiety, loss of social support, and depression that leads to sleep disorders among those 65 and older.

According to the National Cancer Institute, those diagnosed with cancer, such as mesothelioma, have a greater risk of developing insomnia and for being affected by disorders of the cycle of sleeping and waking. Although there are many other disorders, insomnia is the most prevalent among the American population, according to the Institute. Among cancer patients, insomnia can be caused by physical or psychological factors, and even by the cancer treatment itself, according to the website of The National Cancer Institute.

Sleep problems can be increased by cough, pain, fever, draining lesions, gastrointestinal alterations, fatigue, and other factors among cancer patients. They can also be caused by vitamins and such medications as neuroleptics, which are given to treat nausea and vomiting, corticosteroids, and sympathomimetics which are given for the treatment of dyspnea.

Treatment of cancer patients can cause side effects, such as pain, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, incontinence, and others that can affect the cycle of waking and sleeping.

Medicines given to patients can affect sleep, including hypnotics, sedatives, propranolol, methyldopa, anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, thyroid preparations, alcohol, and others.

Doctors have found that some treatments that work for healthy patients with insomnia often work for cancer patients too. They believe the best treatments involve physical and psychological factors, however. They do not want cancer patients to take hypnotics on a long-term basis. Using some medicines to treat insomnia among cancer patients can be harmful, according to many doctors. Such treatments as cognitive therapy (talking therapy), stimulus control, and sleep restriction often seem to work best. About 30 to 54 percent of cancer patients experience insomnia. Some doctors believe that treatment for insomnia should be routine among those being treated for cancer.

Molly Hartwick

If you would like to contribute to this blog, email Queen of Sleep: queenofsleep@live.com

Written by Queen of Sleep

July 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

Allergy Show at Olympia London 6-8th May 2011

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Allergy Show – Free Admission eTicket Registration.

The UK’s largest annual gathering of people living with: allergies, skin conditions, eczema, migraines, coeliac disease, hay fever, asthma, food intolerances and chemical sensitivities.

If you are suffering from an allergy etc AND narcolepsy then you know how much of a pain in the backside it can be when you have to learn how to control both at the same time. I get hayfever in the summer and it makes me stay indoors during certain periods. It’s annoying when I know how much I need the sunshine…and how much I love the sunshine!

You can get a free ticket if you register on their website using the link above!


Written by Queen of Sleep

April 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

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

Flying back to London

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Airplane taking off

Today, I will be flying back to London leaving Sweden behind again until next time. I feel a bit sad because it’s always when you have gotten used to the landscape, weather, people and darkness (Just joking, I don’t think I can ever get used to the darkness) it’s time to leave. The air is cleaner and the pace is slower. Sometimes too slow because I want action now! If nothing happens I risk falling asleep and missing out completely. I have recently felt moments of  panic-like emotions triggered by fear of having lost time, of loosing more time everyday and worries that life will come to end before I have had time to accomplish what I have set out in my mind.  I have been in some funny situations in my hometown which shows how different the perception time and speed is when you live in the countryside. One day I went to a local bakery, lovely place with tasty bread and cakes, and chatted with some of the staff. All of a sudden one of them says: – here is this afternoon’s second wave. i.e. lots of customers are entering the shop. I look around and see 2 people beside myself, smile on the inside and think this is not even a queue. There are just not that many people in this town. I think you adapt to the pace of where you live and you experience potential stress in relation to its set pace. There are many benefits of  living in the countryside and the most positive is that there are fewer distractions, life becomes clearer and it’s easier to focus on what you want to achieve. On the other hand, I have realised that when I am active I become more active and when I am passive  I become the ultimate procrastinator. A friend recently said that, it’s a sign of narcolepsy to have a tendency to go to extremes. What do you think?

I couldn’t keep up my lifestyle changes staying with my family. I did better than I have in the past – that is a positive. I went out a few times with my brother swimming and bowling and I kept the good routine of eating porridge every morning. I don’t get to eat Swedish food very often so I totally slipped on my caffeine, sugar and low-fat intake. I love Swedish food, cakes and sweets. It made my mood escalate out of control a few times and I do feel a little bit like a pudding right now;). It was more difficult to keep regular food routines too and that affected my blood sugar levels at times but I know that I need to be even more disciplined next time I go home in order to succeed. I fall back into old non-constructive behaviour. I mean that as long as I keep up training and eat at regular times. I  will be fine. I can’t wait to get back to the gym tomorrow and do body combat in the gym. I am also thinking about starting to train to run a 5k race for charity this summer, but first, I need to find a running partner.


Written by Queen of Sleep

January 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Narcolepsy Diet: What do i eat now?

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I have read A LOT about what types of food are advisable to eat for narcoleptics and tonight I came across this blog/website called http://www.sleeping-with-a-sleeping-disorder.com and it pretty much lists what I have found elsewhere on the net and through experience. It is not just about what you eat but also the regularity and when you eat that is important.

Narcolepsy Diet: What do i eat now?.

Written by Queen of Sleep

January 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm