When suffering from chronic pain, sleeping can be extremely difficult and eating well is important.
As a general guideline, having a balanced diet is essential to a refreshing night’s sleep and eating too much fatty food too close to bedtime can lead to indigestions and heartburn. Once asleep, your body will also find it more difficult to burn the calories which were in your dinner, as your metabolism will slow down during the night.
Make sure you eat at least 3 times a day:
Make sure you eat both Breakfast and Lunch to ensure you don’t over indulge during dinner. If you are a tea, coffee or sugar lover, you should make sure your last indulging caffeinated drink is taken before 5pm, regardless of how tiring your day has been.
Pork, cheese, aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes as well as, of course, alcoholic drinks such as wine all contain an amino acid called ‘Tyramine’ which stimulates the brain. These foods are to be avoided if you are looking for a refreshing night’s sleep.
Top Tip from Donna (February Stars author and Fibromyalgia sufferer): My advice is that if you are in intolerable levels of pain—and particularly if you have any GI issues—I would highly recommend trying an elimination diet. My problem foods are gluten and dairy. Refined sugar is also a big issue for me. If I eat these foods now I can easily tell that they cause an increase in my pain levels. Whilst on the subject of diet, alco- hol should also be avoided when you are working on improving your sleep (and perhaps en- tirely if you have fibromyalgia). Although alcohol is associated with having a sedative affect, it actually disrupts sleep as the metabolites are stimulants. Caffeine should also be avoided until a sleep pattern has been established.
Foods you should capitalise on:
Nutrients promoting sleep, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper and Zinc can be found in foods such as yoghurt, milk, oat, bananas, eggs, peanuts, tuna or spinach.
You can also eat a controlled portion of some carbohydrates in the evening, which is actually recommended, unlike what most health-conscious people think. Jasmine rice will be your best friend as it contains an amino acid called ‘Tryptophan’, which contributes to trigger sleep in the brain.
Additional sleep aids:
There are several natural sleep aids which you can consume after dinner as part of your sleep routine:
- Passion flower, Valerian-hops and wild lettuce are reputed for their calming effects while induc- ing and maintaining sleep.
- Jamaican dogwood (which can easily be found online in many forms) helps promote muscle relaxation.
- L-Theanine, which is an amino-acid found in green tea helps feeling relaxed while also promoting muscle relaxation.
- Calcium and Magnesium as well as Melatonin or 5-HTP could also be taken as supplements and are sold behind the counter pretty much anywhere. They can make a real difference in the long run.
Dr Jacob Teitelbaum who is a renowned expert in Fibromyalgia also recommends a little bit of good quality chocolate, which has natural relaxing properties (in moderation!)
Top Tip from Donna: Natural treatment options should not be overlooked and are sometimes preferable. Herbal remedies can be helpful and I would encourage you to ask your GP about these too. Bacopa, passion flower and motherwort are herbs that work well together to induce sleep. Melatonin can also be helpful in re-establishing a sleep routine. These are the options that I have personally tried myself and found to be useful.