Stroke & Sleep

I don’t know about you but following my stroke, I slept for England. A typical day would start by being woken up by nurses, fed breakfast, washed, etc. Then I would fall asleep again, I would remain asleep until lunchtime, then following lunch, yes you’ve guessed it, I would fall asleep again. This was a daily pattern and still, I was able to sleep all through the night. As we know, this is good for us, while we are sleeping we are allowing our brain to recover.

Now 7 years after stroke I still struggle with fatigue, which we know only too well, is a whole subject on its own, and those of you who have been following my blogs for a while, firstly thank you, but secondly, you will know I have already discussed that one, as it is something, even now, I struggle with. I have to be respectful of and have my daily sleep, plan around my limitations. But I cannot sleep well through the night, this too is a common difficulty post stroke.

Despite our many efforts to improve our quality of sleep and amount of uninterrupted hours, many of us still have not yet successfully beaten it.

You may have already gathered, I rather like my food, and often look at ways of using it to work for us, we’ll now I have some suggestions of foods we may wish to get into the habit of snacking on a couple of hours before going to bed, as they have benefits to sleep quality and really do we have anything to lose?

I will give a selection so you can get started:

Sweet potato toast, yes you did read correctly, I did type toast! Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium all of which help us to relax. Top this with either a tablespoon of peanut butter or a drizzle of honey and a pinch of sea salt. Slice a piece of sweet potato and simply toast. As you would bread in your toaster.

Pistachios – these really do hit the sleep inducing jackpot apparently, as they provide vitamins B6 & magnesium, protein, although you should limit the amount you have to an ounce otherwise you undo all the good, and have the opposite effect on the body of keeping you awake.

Prunes – these dried plums contain vitamin B6, calcium & magnesium, naming just a few all of which help melatonin, the very hormone that regulates sleep. You can either eat them on them on their own or mix them with other seed mix and put on whole grain toast. You may remember in a previous blog I said I believe our body tells us if we need something, are lacking in nutrients. Well I am having difficulty with sleeping and I’ve automatically started to eat a couple of prunes with my drink in the evening.

Cantaloupe – remembering too that dehydration can be a cause for not sleeping well, watery fruit like melon can help up deficits, many stroke survivors, especially living alone forget to drink sufficiently.

Nut butter – almond or peanut butter, packed with protein and filling keep your amount to about a tablespoon on sweet potato or banana although personally, I must admit I think I will give that one a miss, I enjoy both but I’m not quite sure about together yet.

Herbal Teas – no surprises here I’m sure, chamomile being the winner as it’s excellent at calming nerves as well as stomach soothing and hydrating. Ginger tea is much the same.

Oatmeal – this we may feel is more for breakfast, it definitely is for me, I have this most days, oats are rich in melatonin which relaxes the body and helps it sleep so a small amount can help at night whereas a usual portion for breakfast help trigger insulin production and help you to make it through to lunchtime.

Almonds – these contain tryptophan and magnesium which both help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm. So a handful of these and you should be dozing off in no time.

Whole grain bread – these have carbs which tend to spike blood glucose levels, but once the glucose levels drop back down it can lead to an energy crash.

Cherries – these along with nuts are a natural source of melatonin. When eaten regular,y they can help regulate your sleep pattern.

Dark chocolate – dark chocolate has several health benefits so this is great news for chocolate lovers, one of these is serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind. You could melt dark chocolate and dip cherries into them.

Bananas – magnesium and potassium in bananas act as muscle and nerve relaxants. The vitamin B6 they contain converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing relaxation yet further.

Hummus – this is another great source of tryptophan. If you wake during the day hungry it means you haven’t eaten sufficient, consumed enough calories in the day. I do struggle in that department. Eat hummus during the day for better sleep and aim for three small meals daily and two snacks.

Hopefully reading through these you have identified with one or several that tempt you, into making a few changes, that will hopefully lead to a better sleep pattern, and therefore a better feeling all round. Is there a reason to not give it a try anyway? I can’t think of one.

2 Responses to “Stroke & Sleep

  • This is great . I have not read your blogs before and I had a stroke in Jan. and I would love to , how do I find them?

    • Hi Sharon, Many thanks for your kind feedback, I blog each Sunday or Monday on my website and they are available by going to the Journal page. You can go back and read as many as you wish hoping you find them interesting and useful.

      I also have now made my book available as a free audio version download, again available on my website, plus youtube videos which may help.

      Best Wishes


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