Queen of Sleep

Living with narcolepsy: a personal journey

Posts Tagged ‘sleep

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.

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Written by Queen of Sleep

October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Sleeping Pills Linked with Early Death

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I was once offered sleeping pills by a GP but they didn’t make any difference to my sleep pattern at all so I stopped taking them. I know it sounds nuts to give sleeping pills to someone with narcolepsy but if I remember correctly it was to help control my sleep pattern whilst traveling. Perhaps you have been offered them too?

Study: Sleeping Pills Linked with Early Death

Written by Queen of Sleep

February 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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

Create a sleepy Pumpkin for Halloween

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REM Runner: Calling All Creative Cats and Sleepy Pumpkins.

The well-known blogger Rem Runner is calling all pumpkin carvers to create a sleepy pumpkin for Halloween! Photograph your pumpkin and email it to Rem Runner before the 31st of October and your pumpkin will be part of a Sleepy Pumpkin Virtual Gallery. All details are found at the link above.

Written by Queen of Sleep

October 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

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Sleepy Cartoons: Sleeping Beauty 1

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Sleeping Beauty has captured imaginations for centuries and provided inspiration for many artists, writers, filmmakers and composers from the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” (Tchaikovsky, 1890), to the current film “Sleeping Beauty” (2011) with Sally Potter introducing Julia Leigh.

Originally, the stories were passed down from generation to generation through the art of story telling. The first recorded version of Sleeping Beauty has been traced back to Giambattista Basile, Italy (1632). He collected and wrote down the collection of Neapolitan Fairy Tales, titled Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille, also known as Il Pentamerone. You can read extracts of early versions here: Sleeping Beauty and her Rapist and here: Gruesome fairytale endings.  Basile and later Perrault (Charles Perrault included in 1697, La Belle au Bois Dormant in Contes de ma Mere l’Oye – ‘Tales of Mother Goose’.), according to folklorists, joined together two versions of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. The first version is the more familiar, traditionally romantic and censored version whereas the second version is (briefly)…

…closer linked to the gruesome stories already mentioned above. The prince basically kept Sleeping Beauty as a (secretly married) “mistress” had two children, until he had ascended his throne. He then brought his family to his capital where he left the regency to his Ogre Queen Mother while he went to war with the neighbouring countries. The ogre sent the young queen to the woods and demanded that the children be served up to her for dinner. After much gruesome tumultuous activity the King appears in the nick of time and then they live happily ever after.

Doesn’t it sound strange that the two versions existed side by side? Another reader suggests that they were originally part of the same story where part 2 follows on from part 1. How could that be? Especially when they are so different in styles, characters etc. I think that Perrault and The Grimm Brothers started a process of cleaning up the crude folk tales and by the time the story reached the Victorians most of them had become ‘suitable’ for children. There must have been many many variations on the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, probably as many as there were storytellers. I also believe that as soon as a folk tale goes into print – it starts to become a commodity – an object, the story becomes more fixed and controlled. When a storyteller tells a folk tale he keeps the elements and exaggeration fluid to suit its audience. In addition, he/she personalises it by making their story unique, so that more people will want to hear ‘Sleeping Beauty’ even if they have heard it before. These examples are the oldest variants on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ theme.

The Grimm Brothers edited their collection of folktales seven times during the beginning of 1800’s. At one point they almost edited out “Sleeping Beauty” because they thought it was too French-centric (Perrault). They, then, came across the story of Brynhildr in the Volsunga saga (Norse mythology) and because the similarities were so striking they decided to keep “Sleeping Beauty”. I think Brynhildr is a much more interesting version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’:

Brynhildr is a Valkyrie and the daughter of Budli. She was ordered to decide a fight between two kings, Hjalmgunnar and Agnar, and knew that Odin preferred the older king, Hjalmgunnar, yet she decided the battle for Agnar. For this Odin condemned her to live the life of a mortal woman, and imprisoned her in a remote castle behind a wall of shields on top of mount Hindarfjall in the Alps, where she must sleep within a ring of fire until any man rescues and marries her. The hero Sigurðr Sigmundson (Siegfried in the Nibelungenlied), heir to the clan of Völsung and slayer of the dragon Fafnir, entered the castle and awoke Brynhildr by removing her helmet and cutting off her chainmail armour. He immediately fell in love with the shield maiden and proposed to her with the magic ring Andvaranaut.

The story about Brynhildr doesn’t end with…’and they lived happily ever after’, it continues with several twists and turns that I will let you read about on your own.  The Valkyrie Brynhildr is an image of a strong-minded, attractive woman with red fiery hair holding a sword and shield.

In the next post I will continue with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ 2: Why is the story so popular? What did Disney do to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and what message does the image of ‘Sleeping Beauty” convey to young girls about being a woman?

Written by Queen of Sleep

July 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Sleepy Cartoons

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Learning to Balance Routines and Spring Sunshine

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The hyacinth gives off a lovely stimulating scent - perfect to help you wake up or focus.

It makes me so happy to see sun (spring) arrive and with summer  around the corner I feel “invincible”. The increased hours of sunshine makes a lot of difference to energy levels and to be perfectly honest I have been getting so carried away that some of my routines have slipped. I didn’t notice it at first but quite soon it became apparent that the quality of my sleep started to deteriorate. The last week has been really tough because I have only been able to “sleep” (to my knowledge) 1,5 hours maximum at a time and my body has starting to ache again. I started to  overestimate how much energy I have available over X amount of time. I also have been drinking coffee, diet coke and eating sweets and cakes.  I started to get so distracted by socialising  that my gym routine fell away.

It’s pretty clear that once the (healthy) routines are tinkered with, it affects the quality of sleep at night and from there the snow ball just gets larger and larger…I am, however,  not going back. Yesterday, I said goodbye to a friend at the train station and I realised straight away that I couldn’t be around crowds of people because the cataplexy electricity surged around badly in my head so that it felt as if I had mini explosions going off in my head every 2-3 minutes. I knew I shouldn’t have left the house yesterday (but I refuse to let it take over my life).

Diet CokeIt makes me cross that I have to reduce my coffee consumption. It’s easy for me not to drink. I don’t smoke and I am not into drugs. I love coffee. Decaf  is not at all an option, it tastes funny. I rather not drink coffee at all.

Right now, action and effort is required to get me back on track! Have realistic goals and start lightly to make lasting changes. I think that no coffee and no Diet coke (this is so bad for me! – I might even write a post on just HOW evil Diet Coke is – to get myself motivated) after 6pm, is a good start.

Written by Queen of Sleep

May 25, 2011 at 10:57 am

Out of Control of Time

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A year ago I came across The story of Ann Shapiro (mentioned in article below). When I feel like time is slipping away, I think of Ann who suffered a stroke in 1963 at the age of 50 and woke up again 30 years later to a new world. Perhaps it’s my worst fear to fall asleep/enter a vegetative state or as in the case of Miss Lily Smith (Awake for only 12 days this century – ‘miracle’ of coma woman | World news | The Guardian.) “minimally conscious” i.e. eyes open and body rigid. It’s probably most people’s greatest fear to become completely passive – freeze in time like the stone statues created by the White Witch in the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. At the same time I can’t help but to be fascinated by the experience of “falling asleep” for 30 years and then wake up to an entirely new world or literally be frozen in time – to become an observer of time – to be conscious but unable to move.

A report last year by Cambridge University researchers showed that patients who are apparently unconscious often have more brain function than previously suspected. The study showed that the brains of comatose patients responded to verbal stimuli in a similar manner to those of conscious volunteers. The team admitted it was “absolutely stunned” by the findings.

I find this information interesting because when I get a cataplexy attack, I get completely incapable of communicating but I can hear everything people say around me. Perhaps it’s the same for people who become “minimally conscious”?

Ann’s life story and her experience of disjointed time has been turned into a film called  “Forever Love” and it starred Reba McEntire. It is a loosely based adaptation of the Annie Shapiro story. I haven’t seen the television movie, as it is referred to as, but the plot summary seems to have removed everything that I found interesting with the story and added another character so when Ann (who here is only in a coma for 20 years) wakes up she has adjust and find her place in a family set up of 4 family members. The strapline reads: She will discover betrayal before she discovers herself. What have they done? According to this article from The Jamaica Observer , Her biggest excitement in her last years was when the movie was made of her miraculous awakening. It starred singer Reba McEntire. ” That’s me,” laughed Anne Shapiro, the last time I spoke with her. “I can’t wait to see it.” I don’t know if she ever saw the film but somehow she managed to outlive her family and passed away in 2003, 90years old. She would have been a fascinating woman to meet. The person to have spent the longest time is a coma was Elaine Esposito: 37 years and 111 days. She never woke up. Ann was very lucky not only to wake up but also to be so coherent after being “away” for 30 years.

Written by Queen of Sleep

May 9, 2011 at 6:37 am