Saturday, 28 November 2015

Can magnesium help you and your baby sleep better?

If you know me or read my various posts you'll know that I really like Sarah Ockwell-Smith and her books & blog. I've read Babycalm, Toddlercalm and The Gentle Sleep Book and have found all of them invaluable. I was having a browse through her recommended products list on her blog and noticed a recommendation for magnesium oil. She mentioned that around 60% of people are deficient in magnesium. This got me curious so I reverted to type and started doing some reading. 

I knew absolutely nothing about magnesium a month ago. I had no idea that it is actually a really important mineral in the body and is essential for bones, muscles and the brain. It's actually a sort of antidote to stress which relaxes muscles in turn promoting sound sleep.  And if you're one of these people who twitches a lot in their sleep therefore waking you up (I know I am) you may find that a boost of magnesium can prevent them. It can also help prevent nightmares and night terrors again by increasing relaxation.
It's also reported to improve many other conditions from IBS to headaches and PMS.

Apparently magnesium deficiency is very common because of modern farming methods that strip the soil of magnesium. Crops then have lower levels of the mineral within. Also our tendency to eat processed foods like flour and sugar have hardly any or no magnesium due to the production process.
I read that studies show that the magnesium levels in vegetables declined by 24% between 1940 and 1991, fruit declined by 17%, meat declined by 15% and cheeses declined by 26%. No wonder it's hard to get your full recommended amount each day.

So, as we know Baby D is not the best sleeper and I'm exhausted so thought I'd give supplementing magnesium a go. I figured it would go into Baby D via my breastmilk so I'd focus on increasing my intake. I looked into foods that are high in magnesium but it's surprisingly hard to get the recommended 400mg a day. You'd have to eat for example a handful of almonds, a fillet of halibut, half a cup of spinach, a bowl of bran and half a cup of Swiss chard every day! We have a healthy and varied diet but foods rich in magnesium are not plentiful.
So I looked into the oil that Sarah Ockwell-Smith recommend. It's called Better You, I got it in the health food shop. Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin rather than through food or tablets which was news to me. Also it's safe for babies, children and pregnant ladies too. You just spray it on and rub it in, I put it on my legs or arms in the morning after my shower. It has a strange tingling sensation as it's absorbed but is not uncomfortable or anything.
The only problem I've found is that you don't want to get it on broken skin as it will sting...I have bad eczema on my hands so rubbing it in stings my fingers like crazy! Because of this I thought I'd try tablets/capsules so went to the health food shop again. They had different types and wasn't sure what to go for so had to do more reading. I found out that magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide are poorly absorbed and I should go for magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate, or aspartate instead. Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhoea, which can be avoided if you take magnesium glycinate. So I got myself some magnesium glycinate in 400mg capsules online.
I also thought I'd try to feed Baby D as many foods that are high in magnesium as possible especially at our evening meal. I found that chia seeds are a good source so have started putting them in her yoghurt every evening.
Other foods that are a good source of magnesium are: nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, fish, beans, yoghurt, bananas and whole grains.

I did an extremely unscientific experiment and did a few days with magnesium supplements and a few without. I was pretty shocked by the results and found that both Baby D and I slept so much better with it and went 'back to normal' (a bit rubbish) without. When taking magnesium I stopped twitching entirely and also felt less stressed in general, even in the day. Of course it could be a coincidence...or possibly not. I'm definitely going to continue with it and have recommended the oil to a few friends and family who have also found it beneficial. We had a bout of illness and at this point the magnesium didn't seem to make any difference at all. It was no sleep all round!

Do you supplement with magnesium? If so have you noticed any changes? I'm really interested to hear.

Remember to consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting taking a new supplement.

Dawn x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

When Sleep Deprivation and Illness Collide

So a couple of posts ago I apologised for my radio silence and promised to resume weekly posts as usual...then I went quiet again. This is my first post in 8 weeks. I'm sorry to say that motherhood plus self employment and blogging all became a little much for a while and something had to give.

We've had a lot of illness for a start. Not just Baby D but also me and Darling Husband too. Coughs, colds, tummy bugs, even impetigo! As a result of this illness sleeping has been hellish. Baby D has never been the best of sleepers, never the worst either. On a ‘brilliant’ night she’ll wake up once (happens once every few months) on an ‘average’ night she’ll wake two or three times but for a solid 3 weeks she woke every hour - she slept better than this when she was newborn. Bear in mind I’ve had about 480 days of sleep deprivation with the odd good night sleep in there somewhere I started to feel myself going a wee bit crazy.
Baby D is very much a Mummy’s girl when she’s poorly, upset or tired. It’s just the way it is. She’ll only stop crying or screaming if I hold her, Daddy won’t do if Mummy is in the house at times like this. Also with me breastfeeding it makes sense that I’m the one to calm her at night. I actually don't mind...most of the time. I'm thankful that popping her on the boob will never fail to calm her although when you're nursing a poorly child every hour it can get a bit sore. That said I'd go through agony quite happily if it made her feel better.

They say to remember that ‘This too shall pass’ when going through difficult times. Remembering this is so important for me. It’s times like this I believe people resort to leaving baby to cry and whatnot but there’s no way I’m going to do that. Even if my eyeballs are bleeding and my head is about to fall off I’m not leaving her to cry! I feel very strongly about this, but that's a post for another day.

Sleep deprivation is used as torture. No wonder it sends some of us parents round the loop.
There were nights where I’d sit there sobbing, or getting gradually more and more frustrated until it turned into anger then to tears. My poor husband! Luckily he was great and supported me through it. Although as he slept next to me some nights I’d want to punch him for getting a reasonable amount of sleep next to my meagre amounts! There were times where I honestly felt complete despair and the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away I couldn’t bear it. I felt like I was losing myself. I became snappy and unreasonable at times. I also started to feel like a failure as a mother and super emotional- crying at everything. And, due to the contagious nature of some of the illnesses we had I wasn’t able to reach out to my support network like breastfeeding group etc so felt very isolated. And of course toddlers still need as much entertainment as normal when poorly! Each day was a bit of a struggle to keep on smiling and trying to keep up the fun and games for Baby D. There were a lot of dog walks!

I'm pleased that I stayed true to my parenting ideals by being there through every tear and waking moment, it was worth it. Now Baby D is finally back to her bubbly, sunshiny self I've almost forgotten the pain.

So, what I'm trying to say in a rambling, nonsensical way is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may feel miles and miles away but you will get there. 

Dawn x