Sleep Well

Posted by Candace Cable in Life After Paralysis on November 10, 2015 # Health

I've discovered in my advanced age, there is much more that can now hinder my sleep, then there was in my youth, or it just feels that way. But, erratic bedtimes, life stresses, hormone changes (yes I have been down the road and arrived at my destination of menopause), food choices, too much blue light from my phone and computer and worrying about not getting enough rest or sleep as I lay awake counting sheep. I do love my sleep, my favorite form of escape and I've discovered that getting the best sleep I can, when ever possible, is a very good thing for my health and wellness.

OK, so consistent bedtimes and arise time seem to be the consensus when it comes to getting a good night sleep. I have to say that with all the traveling I do for work getting to bed at the same time each night is close to impossible. My remedy is to focus on hours of sleep. I know that if I get less done for our sleep I don't function very well and if I do it two days in a row I'm a zombie. My ideal sleep number is seven hours and if I get seven hours I feel fresh out of the shower without ever having gotten wet. I think the key is to know how many hours of sleep is enough and it's very individual.

I know I can't do anything to change the days going by and my body aging so I've tried supplements with some nutrients to helped level out my hormones and improve my slumber. And, yeah, certain foods can hinder my sleep or help my sleep. One of my favorite comfort foods in the evening is oatmeal. It's so rich in melatonin that snooze helper and a natural over-the-counter sleep aid plus B complex vitamins in addition to a reasonable dose of fiber. Now this fiber B vitamins helps improve my slowed down metabolism due to hormonal changes, digest food simply and smoothly. No need for harsh chemicals to do my business, if you know what I mean.

Vitamin B6, a member of the B complex family also converts tryptophan into serotonin, the hormone that increases relaxation and the possibility of a good nights sleep. I like to add some nuts, a banana that is rich in magnesium and potassium, both are muscle and nerve relaxants and then a spoonful of honey for a measure of sweet, desert like deliciousness with a plus because it contains glucose that tells my brain to shut off orexin, a chemical known to trigger alertness, and I'm off to hit the sack.

Ok, time to take note of the triggers in certain foods that keep me awake. There's this amino acid, Tyramine. Avoid foods that contain it if sleeping is on the agenda, or I just try eating it early in the day. Tyramine works as a vasoactive substance, which means it effects the dilation or constriction of blood vessels and prompts the brain to release alertness chemicals. Foods that are aged, like the hard cheeses Parmesan, Romano, Asiago contain high levels of tyramine. Also fermented or pickled foods like soy sauce, tofu, miso, teriyaki sauce and processed meats from the deli counter contain enough tyramine to keep me up at night.

Remember I said something about getting too much blue light? Well that blue light is the stuff that daylight is made of and daytime is time to be-awake time. The natural world clock of light and dark includes me and you and the seven billion people in the world and our circadian rhythms count on the daylight, the blue light, to clue us in on when to be awake and when to snooze is the job of orange light. Orange light quiets our active bodies and minds. My computer, phone, and television all beam out blue light, oh and just for good measure, blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone I mentioned above in the food section of this blog.

I like lying in my bed, writing, reading, watching videos and shows on my computer at night, so what's a girl to do? Well, technology is not letting me down on this late night sleep disrupter habit of mine, there are options for me. Now, for blocking the blue light coming from my devices and into my brain, there are orange light glasses I can wear, cheap on the internet, and a cool app I can download called f.lux for my computer and an app called Twilight for my phone. Kind of reminds of a few vampire movies that were out a few years back, now what were they called?

Oh, and if not sleeping is an issue, don't go to a sleeping pill for a remedy as the first choice. Why? Well studies are showing that sleep medication can lead to excessive drowsiness in the morning and impairment of activities. The reason for these morning issues is that many sleep aids don't allow the body and mind to reach the deep, restful, healing sleep of REM sleep. Not enough recovery sleep, night after night, equates diminished capacity over time.

What to do if I'm not sleeping well, don't get my seven hours of rest one night? I take naps. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that a daytime nap helps fill the sleep lost gap. Now I like that!

Tips for a good night's rest, with Candace Cable

Sweet Dreams, and Blessings to All!!!

In Joy, Candace

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