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!!