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Sleep Patterns

Updated on January 6, 2017
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I will always be mindful of my disorder. However, it doesn't have to be debilitating. There is more hope for health.


Not another sleepless night UGH!!!

Pain - Let's face it, any kind of pain can prevent you from getting sleep, such as back pain, headaches, joint pain, even emotional pain can add more anxiety to your life.

Mental Illness/Stress - Mental illness and stress is both a symptom and a cause for depression and anxiety. Stressful situations or events, such as money and marital problems can kick off insomnia and become a long term problem.

Snoring - Did you know that 30 - 50% of Americans snore? In some cases, snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a disorder linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Jet lag - (It's a good thing that I don't fly, every time I do, I end up with a migraine or throwing up.) However, crossing over time zones, which tells the brain to sleep when it's dark and wake up when it's light. (Guess that's why I did not keep my overnight job for very long.) It can take up to 3 days for the body to adjust to another time zone, if you fly often, it can also cause chronic sleep problems.

Shift work - Those that work rotating shifts have lower levels of serotonin, which helps regulate sleep.

Hormonal changes - Menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy are primary sources of sleep problems for women. (40% of peri-menopausal women go through this in their transition years. Lucky us!!)

Medical illnesses - Lung disease and Asthma, Parkinson's and other Neurological diseases count insomnia as a side effect.

Medications - Both prescription and over-the-counter.

Insomnia takes its toll on everything from job performance to sex life to overall health.


Try natural remedies before over-the-counter sleep aids

They actually recommend that you get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day, but the average American sleeps about 6 hours and 40 minutes.

They say that if you increase your intake of these vitamins and minerals it could increase your sleep time. (However, I am trying to incorporate more foods, that have these items in them, into my diet.

Magnesium and Calcium - However, these two are recommended to be taken together, to cancel out the heart problems that can arise if you take calcium alone. (200 mg magnesium and 600 mg of calcium each night. If this causes stomach upset, you should lower the dose of magnesium.)

Magnesium food sources: DARK LEAFY GREENS, (such as raw spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, turnip greens), NUTS AND SEEDS (such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts), FISH, BEANS AND LENTILS, (such as soy beans, white beans, French beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans, lentils, pinto beans), WHOLE GRAINS(such as, brown rice, Quinoa, Millet, Bulgar, Buckwheat, Wild rice, whole wheat pasta, Barley, Oats), AVOCADOS, LOW FAT DAIRY(such as plain non fat yogurt, 2% fat milk, swiss cheese), BANANAS, DRIED FRUITS (such as figs, raisins, prunes, dates apricots), DARK CHOCOLATE.

Calcium food sources: DARK LEAFY GREENS, (such as Watercress, curly Kale, Dandelion Greens, Turnip Greens, Collards), LOW FAT CHEESE, (such as, Mozzarella Non fat, reduced fat Parmesan, low fat Swiss, fat free Cheddar, fat free American, full fat Swiss, full fat Cheddar, whole milk Mozzarella), LOW FAT MILK AND YOGURT, CHINESE CABBAGE (such as Bok Choy), FORTIFIED SOY PRODUCTS, COOKED OKRA, BROCCOLI, GREEN SNAP PEAS, ALMONDS, CANNED FISH.

Wild Lettuce - If you suffer from anxiety, headaches, muscle and joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. (I for one was not.) They offer a Wild Lettuce supplement 30-120 mg before bed, and it is supposed to calm restlessness and reduce anxiety.

Hops - The female flower, which is used in beer making. Take 30 to 120 mg before bed. (Who knew, despite my father always getting up at 4:30 in the morning for work, he had no problems taking a nap when he got home.)

Aromatherapy - Lavender aids in sleep. (You can find this in spray form and spray some on your pillow. I, especially, love my Lemon Lavender candle.)

Melatonin - Lower doses of this are more effective than higher doses. Too high of a dose could risk depression or infertility. Take .3 to .5 mg before bed.

Yoga or meditation - Gentle yoga stretching. Closing your eyes and for 5 to 10 minutes pay attention to nothing but your breathing. Yoga moves can beat insomnia, ease stress, and relieve pain.

L - theanine - Take 50 - 200 mg at bedtime boosts the REM cycle.

Valerian - This is said to improve deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall quality of sleep. (About 10% of people who use this actually feel energized, which may keep them awake. If that happens take Valerian during the day. Otherwise take 200 - 800 mg before bed.

However, natural remedies or not, I plan on looking to see if I can increase some of this stuff through my actual diet first.

Steps to fall asleep faster

In women, insomnia has been associated with feelings of hostility, depression, anger, higher risks of diabetes, and heart disease.

I, personally, have been dealing with insomnia since I was a young child. My parents would get up in the middle of the night and find me asleep on my rocking horse. I spent lots of early morning time with my paternal grandparents in Canada. I was always up before they were. Now that I am an adult, I just constantly lay there wondering when slumber will take over. When I have a client to meet early in the morning the next day without sleep, I am not a happy camper. However, off to work I still go.

1. Nix annoying noises - Like a snoring significant other.

2. Prep your body for slumber - relaxation techniques, stretching or yoga type moves. Curling toes. Relax. Repeat through all your muscle groups, from toes to neck.

3. Take notes - Daily routines effect sleep. Keep a sleep log. Every day record how much caffeine you drink, when and how much you exercise, what you eat, when you go to bed, when you wake up, and your total sleep time.

This is something that I have done for quite some time. I no longer drink caffeine, as it was said to reduce my iron. I try to go to sleep as early as possible, IF I have to get up early to meet a client. Most times, if I don't sleep, I wake up in the morning complaining of my lack of total sleep time. Because this has been a trigger to many of my seizures. I have heard that some sort of Wild Lettuce helps you sleep. If I remember correctly, it is given in pill form, but I started eating more salads in the evenings now. Taco Bell's Beef Taco Salad actually has had some positive results for me. Also, Taco Bell's Smothered Burrito, which has rice, (not sure if it is Jasmine Rice, but I have heard this kind of rice tends to help you sleep as well.)

4.) Keep cool. People sleep better when the room temperature is on the cooler side. They say to set the thermostat to 65 or below, however, I live in a basement in the Mid West, once the snow comes, I will be freezing.

5.) Relax right. This is something that I need to spend more time on. Instead of mulling over the day's events, I need to go back to journaling, two hours before bed. This way, my mind is not rushing when I am about to turn in. (I used to love keeping a journal.) Just like writing down my last thoughts before bed, in case they are something important that need to be remembered.

On the days that I do not have to set an alarm to get up early; I wake up on my own and lay there with my eyes closed for some time, just riding on the slumber wave for some meditation and relaxation time. I concentrate on my own breathing and how I am feeling. Seizure free. Then, I get up to let the dog out, running into my littlest niece in the living room, who is watching her most favorite tv show, which is about a dog.

Yoga moves

Cure a headache - Move is called "legs up the wall," stretch muscles in neck (often the culprit of tension headaches. "I had scoliosis in my neck when I was 15, so this may be an issue as well.) Sit on end of mat with right hip touching a wall. Lean back, turn to lie on mat, extend legs up the wall; butt should nearly be touching the wall and your legs should be together. Put hands on your belly or rest them on the mat above your head. Close your eyes, relax your jaw, and drop chin slightly. Breathe deeply and stay in this position for about 3 to 10 minutes.

Ease back pain - How to lie back on mat, bend legs, squeeze knees to chest. Keep legs bent and knees together, lower both knees toward mat on left side. Hold knees in place with left hand. Gently twist to right. Extend right arm and look right; hold for 5 to 15 breaths. Bring knees and hands back to center, then repeat to right. Stretch to both sides three times whenever you feel tightness in your back.

Sit back on heels with insides of legs and feet touching. Lean forward, bowing torso over thighs and lowering forehead to mat. Extend arms forward, palms down. Relax into pose, widening knees and bending elbows a bit. Focus on breathing 4 to 8 counts for each inhale and exhale.

In conclusion

It is not a fun time when you cannot get to sleep and you know you have to be up early. I always wonder, "Will I make it to work safely? Will I have another seizure?"

However, if my Neurologist states that I am NO LONGER able to take Tylenol or Advil PM, then he is not going to o.k another sleep aid. I have no choices but to try these natural remedies, or find foods that may contain the remedies that I need.

Some statistics:

57% of women have trouble falling asleep

42% of us are home -- in our own beds, lights off, eye cream on--just too full of anxiety to sleep. "When someone is stressed, the first thing that gets impacted is sleep." "Stress can trigger inflammation, muscle aches, memory issues, and fatigue, while skimping on sleep can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stress. It's all cyclical." It can also mess with your metabolism.

Sleep is important, and when you can't get it, it can effect your whole world.

Guess it's time to go try and sleep. Luckily, I don't have to be up early tomorrow. Just press play on my relaxation app on my cellphone, to sounds of a crackling fire, or streams and rain, even the sounds of a washer and dryer. (I know the crackling fire seems to work well.) There just has to be some sleep in my future, because I don't want there to be a hospital bed.

Sleep well!!! (Here's hoping.)


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