Daily Diet.. Dream Water

I often talk about my insomnia, it depresses me when I can’t sleep. It makes me less effective at my job, cranky with my kids, not to mention the impact it has on my waistline…

I have been having a rough week with insomnia, like I said before, my circadian rhythms have always been programmed wrong! I like being awake at night. I am not working right now ( another long story I am not ready to discuss) and for the past 6 weeks I have been off, my sleep schedule has pretty much been doing its own thing. My significant other has been out of town most of these 6 weeks, which makes it easier for me to sleep when I want and wake when I want. The kids are back in school, so once they are gone for the day, then I Can sleep.

I also suffer from RLS (resltess leg syndrome) and I usually take prescription meds to keep my legs from moving and get to sleep. This weekend, I ran out. My primary care provider is not available on weekends and I am shit out of luck.

I have tried some over the counter stuff before, (NEVER Forget your medication when you go out of town) called Leg Cramps , with chamomile, quinine and some other stuff. So, I still have some of these laying around, I will give them a try, to No AVAIL. My legs will not stop moving.

When I was younger, before a diagnosis, I called it “Shaky Leg,” I would get up and do squats and calf raises to fatigue (Yep, in the middle of the night) to make my legs stop the itch to move. I also took scalding hot baths, this usually works, but the water has to be HOT, like my legs are steaming and bright red when I get out of the water. I am pretty sure this water is not healthy and probably high risk for scalding, but I MEAN HOT WATER! I have to ease myself into the water, one toe… another toe… you get the idea. The rest of my body, above the waist usually never gets in the water.. Sadly, I have no tub in my current residence. Hot water in the shower doesn’t have the same impact, but it can help sometimes. This time nothing was working!  I tried squats, leg lifts, yoga poses, calf raises, nothing worked. I even put menthol all over my legs (Ben gay) because for some reason, I thought this might have worked for me a time or two.

You see, when I was younger the RLS was an occasional thing, maybe a couple times a week at most. However, once I started taking the medication, it is guaranteed that I will have an RLS episode without the medication. It is rare that I have to take more than one pill, but miss one and I will be up ALL NIGHT. I am going on two nights in a row.

So this morning, after being awake for almost 48 hours, I asked my eldest son to run to Wags for me, before school, and get some dream water. (I have also used this successfully in the past.) He was kind enough to oblige and not ten minutes later, I was snoozing, my legs weren’t bothering me anymore. (lol, hence the reason I am awake at 0530, because I slept all day today).

So, it got me thinking, what is in that ridiculously expensive, tiny, bottle of flavored water that helped me sleep and stopped my legs from moving? The answer:
There appears to be three active ingredients GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid), melatonin (Oh yeah, I had already taken some of that and some benadryl earlier in the night) and the last ingredient is L 5HTP (L5 hydroxytryptophan).

So today’s depression diet tip is going to focus on these three ingredients and we are going to look at finding them naturally without having to purchase this expensive little bottle of water.

A couple of months ago, Dr Oz talked about GABA and its brain boosting benefits. Those of us with anxiety, probably have a shortage of GABA, the chemical that blocks our neurotransmitters from over firing, or as Dr Oz said, our brakes. Dr Oz recommends we drink a cup of oolong tea, Kefir ( a probiotic drink), Eat some shrimp and brown rice for a healthy dose of GABA and serotonin).  Finally, try daily meditation or… you guessed it, some Yoga!

Most of us, have heard of melatonin and how it plays a major role in sleep regulation and the immune system. Many of us with anxiety and depression probably have the supplement next to our bed for emergencies 😉 But some people do not want to take a supplement and we already know that we really should look to natural sources for any nutrient our bodies need.

Good sources of melatonin are actually pretty easily available and abundant. Topping the charts: Cherry juice and Cherries (the really sour or tart kind are best.) Walnuts are the second best source of melatonin. In order of abundance the next ten sources are:  Mustard seed, corn, rice, ginger root, peanuts, barley,rolled oats, asparagus, tomato and fresh mint. Black tea is even on the list! For a more complete list check it out here. So, we should have no problem at all getting melatonin in our diet every day and getting some zzz’s.

Finally, 5-htp is a fancy way to say the natural serotonin made in the body. So, we already know that shrimp and brown rice meal Dr Oz wants to feed us for dinner will help us sleep good. Other good sources of serotonin or tryptophan include the flax seed we already added earlier in the week, for the omega threes, as well as other proteins we have on the omega three list, turkey, eggs, beans and fatty fish.

We can also find 5-htp in those sour cherries we are adding for the melatonin production and kiwi fruit, plantains, bananas,  pineapples, tomatoes and plums. (I think most of these were on our list of Depression – ass kicking foods as well!) Also,  According to the “Journal of Molecular Medicine,” foods high in B vitamins — specifically B6 — build serotonin. Cereals, rice and breads are rich in B vitamins. Complex carbohydrates, such as buckwheat, are often rich or enriched with B vitamins. A turkey sandwich on enriched bread with tomatoes and some fruit on the side would be an excellent serotonin-rich meal. (this is on our lunch menu!)

So, it looks like many of the foods that we already mentioned for beating depression will also help us sleep, notice how they all inter-connect.. Healthy food is healthy food no matter how you look at it. I have 50 pounds to lose, surely these foods are better than what I am eating now!

Come back later today, I will have a grocery list for our first week of depression kicking recipes and they are all No-cook! This way we can ease into it, we only have to get out of bed long enough chop something or slice something but no cooking involved!

PS, if you have any recipes ideas using the foods we have talked about this week, please send them my way!!










Depression and Insomnia



My fellow sufferers of depression.. we are the night walkers, the ones who are at our most productive time, while the rest of the world sleeps. Again, for “the others” who just don’t understand, it really is not because we want to be awake! We wish we could sleep, sometimes we can sleep for days on end (I rather prefer those days to these, where sleep alludes me and I struggle to live like a normal person. 

Of course, just like everything else, this is a viscous little cycle and the researches in this article for Psychology Today feel that the lack of sleep can cause the depression. Those of us with depression certainly feel like the depression causes the sleep disturbances, but either way… chicken or egg, this ugly little cycle feels like a perpetual F-U from the universe. Yes, my body wants to sleep, I never leave the bed as a matter of fact, but my eyes, my mind, my restless legs have a different plan… yes, we are going to stare at the ceiling tonight. We are going to sing our standard 99 bottles of beer on the wall just one more time… if I am still awake when the last bottle comes off the wall, this time, I will get up and read or write or something to try and turn my mind off…. Of course the blue light from the computer can cause insomnia and so can the blue light from the TV. But, I have finished 4 novels this week and reading a good book will be just that, reading a good book, it will not lull me into the sweet sleepy surrender that I am looking for. I thought perhaps if I put my mind on something, I can blog or journal and get everything out, so when I put my head on the pillow again, the only thing I am dreaming of is my bottles of beer. (yes, I have never been able to count sheep, but for some reason counting beer bottles has always been my preferred method of keeping track of just how long I have been awake.

Yes my dear “others” I have tried all the appropriate sleep hygeine. I have stopped electronics at a decent hour, I have tried warm milk, a hot shower, melatonin, quinine, benadryl and prescription sleep medications. I have tried to work out (Of course not lately) but I have tried it. I have black tape on all the little red lights in my room, the cable box, the air conditioner unit, the clock… I have all those lights covered up, I have light blocking curtains on the windows. I have my room temperature set at a cool 68 degrees. Cool enough to cover myself up and snuggle under the comforter. I have a comfortable mattress and I am a pillow connisore. I have tried to stay awake all day, so that I can sleep at night… but it will not matter, I will still be awake all day and tomorrow night as well… I will just be up for 48 hours if I do not get that nap during the day… honestly it is not about when I am asleep.. I have to grab the sleep as soon as I can get it, it doesnt matter what day it is, I just need some sleep!!

My dear, sweet naive significant “other,” you mean well, I know you do, but Just let me take this nap, it won’t make me stay awake tonight, I am going to stay awake tonight no matter…. Oh, I love to snuggle with you, I really, really do! Interpersonal closeness and touch is so important but please GET OFF ME, I am ready to sleep. I love you, I really do, but PLEASE GET IN THE BED SLOW when you come back from the bathroom, dont you understand how fragile my sleep i? Dont you know that if you wake me up, by accident, even for a minute, the rest of my night is shot to hell. Please do not wake me from my slumber, wherever it is, whenever it is, I need the sleep, just like you do, but my depression has a sick sense of humor and it really wants to sleep at odd times. But trying to force your sleep schedule on me WILL NOT MAKE ME BETTER! I know you are just trying to help me. I understand your masculine need to fix what is broken, but my dear, I have been broken for such a long time, there really is nothing you can do to fix me. Many have tried…. But dear sweet significant “other” just accept me the way I am, please do not try to change me, it will only make us fight and frustrate us both. So what is the point? My body is going to sleep when it is ready, I understand how you feel about naps, I understand, I really do but please, please you need to understand that this is MY BODY, not yours! If you wake me in the middle of my mid-day slumber (so I can sleep tonight, you say) You are disturbing my REM sleep, the very healing and restorative sleep that I need most! I dont care that it is in the middle of the day, again, I just need to grab it when I can!

I know my mood will improve if I can just get some sleep and the more I think about this, the more I am going to stay awake. I know my depression can be better if I sleep, but this is part of the ugly paradox that is depression, my mind’s way of giving me the finger. The more I want it, the less I will get it.. Don’t worry though, eventually, I will go the otherway and sleep for days!!!!

There is something, somewhat poetic about the fact that we depressives are wide awake and creative while the rest of the world sleeps. Even as an 18 year old, I preferred third shift over any other. My circadian rhythms have always wanted it this way…. regardless of what society thinks I should do… Yes, I know my vitamin D is low because I do not get enough sun. Maybe because I am sleeping all day… but Vitamin D deficiency can lead to severe depression.. another fricken chicken and egg scenerio for those of us suffering with this ugly, dark, fucked up sense of a disease!

I think I have done enough squats while typing this to make my restless legs tired enough to be still for 30 minutes or so, so I can try again to reach that blissful lack of awareness called sleep. Oh and the benedryl is kicking in tonight…sometimes it works and sometimes it laughs and torments me… Good night blog land! I hope not to see you for at least 8 hours!!!!! But after all the beer has fallen of the wall a couple of times (usually 2-3) I will be back….