Dementia Related Post

My LifeStyle. Sleep

10 Minutes long…. so get a nice cuppa, have a nice break and listen along…

LifeStyle is the buzzword of the moment, so I thought I would share my lifestyle with you.

My life has changed a lot. Every aspect of it is now geared to maintaining a healthy body, including the brain. The main aim is to keep it at its peak throughout my remaining time.

I believe that what I do will slow and hopefully reverses the causes of my dementia symptoms. This process will happen by limiting the death and decline of brain cells to the natural process of life and not unnatural causes. However, a significant change in perception makes me also think that what I do can prevent the cause of dementia in the first place, so it is a step everyone should take, at whatever time of life you’re at.

It starts with a good nights sleep!

Sleep is something we all do but don’t give it enough thought. Research is showing that the quality of sleep is an essential aspect. We all know of feeling tired, agitated and generally out of sorts when we’ve had a stormy night, but it’s that feeling that hides a much deeper looming problem.

For years I’ve been on medication that sedated me at night. I recorded my sleep pattern for several years.

A typical healthy sleep pattern would see you going between moments of light sleep to deep sleep about five times a night. Dreaming, which is a vital part of good sleep happening within these cycles.

Until the last few months, for years, my sleep pattern was almost flat. No light sleep, no deep sleep and no dreaming! Medication was sedating me!

It started like this. It is 8 pm, time for my evening tablets. I then go to bed because I know I will be hardly able to move in twenty minutes. I’m heavy and losing control of my body. Every part of me is struggling. Even my jaw, face, throat and tongue feel like they are sinking into the pillow. Then after a night of nothing, I wake as if I’ve just closed my eyes. When I first realised medication was a big problem, I woke in a cold sweat, shivering uncontrollably and soaked. I’m exhausted, heavy and feeling like my body is not my own, and the day starts again. Those feelings that I woke with remain with me all day. It is very depressing and very debilitating to life. Medication was the only thing I craved!

Over the last few years, I’ve been removing my dependency on much of the medication that I was overprescribed. My life has changed dramatically over this time.

The cycles of sleep are vital for good health, physically and mentally! There is a clearing system in the brain where the brain shrinks and returns to normal during sleep. During these times, fluid is flushed around the brain, gathering all the waste produced throughout the day, including amyloid-beta, then it is removed. So, if your sleep cycles are interrupted by drugs or other reasons causing poor quality sleep, this will negatively impact the brain’s health over time.

I’m still reducing medication, and my periods of sleep are most definitely getting better.

I now take my evening tablets at nine. I do not get this heavy feeling of being sedated so much now, and I’m sure this will improve as the medication clears from my system.

My evening regime starts at 6 pm. I try not to eat after this time. I’ll explain my eating habits in another chat. I also don’t have coffee after this time. I like redbush tea with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and ginger, with a dash of honey… lovely! It is an acquired taste.

I do have several things I have to do due to my limited ability and medical issues, but as soon as this is all done, it’s time to switch off. I prefer the dark, with just a sidelight on beside my chair. My eyes soon adjust, and it seems to help with this sense of preparing to sleep.

I also close the curtains and blinds around the house to help.

Our circadian clock, a built-in 24-hour body clock that we all know about but know little of, ticks away and, as the light fades and night approaches, triggers our brain to release melatonin. This is that sleep hormone that moves us into a time of relaxation, calm and longing for bed.

Our body mechanism tells us to stop all physical activity, stop adding stimulants to the body that counters that natural calm mental state, and remove that artificial sun burning in the ceiling. This seems to be a relatively short period, but it is often that time when people start to do things to the contrary. Think about it for a moment. What do you do in the last few hours before bed?

Now, I’m like many, if not most, and I’m tethered to my phone, but after 8 pm, I try to stop everything. I have my phone set to, Do Not Disturb, at 8 and this helps.

I still go to bed at 9 pm.

I realised that there wasn’t any reason to remain up. Being a morning person, I don’t really do much at night, other than sit being subdued by the telly. I know I can watch a replay of anything on TV at any time or even record something if I’m so concerned about missing that vital moment! So, why stay up?

My bedroom is cool. There seems to be a point that we sleep better regarding temperature. It seems to be that point between being cold and just right where our body wants to sleep and go into brain clearing mode.

I will be changing my quilt tog rating throughout the year and what I wear to maintain that sweet sleep spot. If I wake because I’m too hot or cold, I will remove or add something to adjust accordingly. I must say, It seems most of us wake more from being too hot than too cold.

It seems that the experts think a temperature of around 18 degrees celsius is ideal, but you have to be the best judge. If you are sleeping ok and not waking too much during the night, hot or cold, then you’re ok.

Staying warm at all times is vital! Especially for those, like me, getting on a bit! The cold can be a significant factor in our lives, and I would never suggest being cold is a good thing. It’s not!

I have a cup of water on the bedside table. I don’t drink a lot. Just a sip to counter that dry mouth when I awake.

Hopefully, by the time I go to bed, I’m in a state of wanting to sleep. My brain is not busy rushing around, thinking of things I’ve done, watched, or need to do! To help me with this constant nagging, I write down anything I need to do tomorrow; it almost becomes a ‘Things To Do list. This helps settle my mind. Try it and see if it helps you!

Sometimes, when I’m not quite there and that irritating thing keeps digging at my thoughts. I’ll listen to rainfall or similar sounds. The reason is that there isn’t a pattern in it, not regulatory for your brain to hook on. What I have to do is force myself to listen to the sound of the rain, especially when I find myself slipping back to that annoying thought. Another thing I do is concentrate on my breathing. Well, not my breathing, but my stomach going in and out as I breathe…. Although this is regular, I seem to be able to focus, shutting everything else off, and soon I’m gone.

Sometimes I do wake and seem wide awake with something going around in my head, and I can not switch it off. I used to try fighting with it to sleep, but now I get up and do something, write my thoughts down, or what’s going around in my mind. I have a notebook just for this purpose. This seems to help clear my mind of that something. I close my book, and I seem to drop back off to sleep. I think getting those thoughts out helps.

I wake around 5 am. It is generally about this time, and I’ve noticed that, often just before, I seem to be going through a time of more rapid wake and sleep cycles, what I suppose we would think of as restless sleep. However, what is annoying is while sometimes I’ll now awake refreshed and feeling ready to face the day, there are those times when I feel tired, heavy, lethargic and getting up seems to be the last thing I want to do.

This is something I remember well from those times when I had to get up for work. This made me think about why this is so, and I think the answer is to do with your sleep cycles. Remember that you are either going up to a lighter sleep state or down into a heavy one during normal sleep. At those moments, your little brain cells are either becoming more active, alert, and almost awake or moving to a quiet, resting and inactive state. Now it seems to me that what part of the sleep cycle you wake will impact your waking state.

The average sleep cycle is about ninety minutes. So, if we have a set time to wake, that time being the latest we can get up, we need a way of knowing when the body is in that upcycle and wake at the peak of that cycle. I’m researching and hopefully find a method to wake on that upcycle of sleep. If you have any ideas, suggestions, research, or working methods, please let me know, and I will share.

How you feel in the morning doesn’t just depend on what time you wake, it does depend on the quality of the sleep you get. If we have lousy nighttime routines, staying up too late, being too active, and all the other things I’ve mentioned, it’s often hard to break out of that cycle. Routine is a cycle, and our bodies like cycles. To change that nighttime routine may take time, but it is worth the effort and undoubtedly good for your long term health!

If you have any questions, then please ask, and I will give you my answer!

Sleep Well!

1 reply »

  1. A really interesting read. How many hours a night sleep are you getting? Do you think everyone would need the same amount of sleep of is everyone different and as long as they go through the cycle of sleep it’s ok. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    Love you Cx 💜

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