Fibromyalgia and Sleep: What gets more attention from you?
Everybody and their mother enjoys sleeping. I like to sleep, you like to sleep, and basically everybody else (except for kids) likes to sleep! What about sleeping when you have a chronic illness? What about sleeping when you’re constantly in pain? Sure, there are people out there who claim they have no trouble sleeping with fibromyalgia. You’re different though: you feel the intense pain when you lay in bed, you can’t think clearly from fibrofog and exhaustion, and now all you want to do is sleep. Isn’t there someone that knows how to combat this?
For years medical researchers and doctors have been trying to distinguish an association between sleep disturbance and pain. Very little has been found on the subject, but it is well known that the two are in direct correlation with each other. Restless leg syndrome (RLS), chronic daytime fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, depression, and memory problems are all symptoms of fibromyalgia. The worst part is that it only gets worse with the less amount of sleep you have. So what’s the next move? How do you move forward? Here are some tips that work for some that have fibromyalgia. Keep in mind, everyone is different. You may need to shuffle some things around in order to get things right or come up with an original way that works for you.
Tip 1: Make sleep a main part of your day.
It is vitally important to ensure you get adequate sleep for your body. If that statement is true for people without fibromyalgia, what does it mean for you? It means to be proactive and not reactive about getting some shut-eye. Prioritize your sleep over Game of Thrones or Stranger Things when the time comes. Netflix will always be there and being exhausted throughout the day is not worth it. Try setting out a candle that relaxes you, put on some light music and throw on some comfy clothes (robe, a body throw, snuggie) and fall asleep.
Tip 2: Create a quiet zone.
Sound can push you past the breaking point when you’re already on edge from exhaustion. Your bedroom, a bathroom, the garage, or even just walking outside to the backyard are all great places to get some quiet. If you’ve ever had kids in the house, you know how much of a blessing it is to have some peace and quiet every once in a while. Designate a ‘quiet zone’ in your home where your family knows to give you some time to wind down. Have items prepared in that room that help you relax such as a vaporizer with lavender essential oil in it, some water, a stress ball and a yoga mat to stretch out if you can.
MORE: How to create a quiet space (quietrev.com)
Tip 3: Exercise your body into sleep mode.
Try walking around the block once as a change of pace (if you aren’t already exercising) to burn some excess calories. If your body is in a caloric deficit, you often slip into sleep a little better than others in a caloric surplus. This is because your body is working on utilizing those excess calories to fuel your body with energy! If your body doesn’t have any food in the stomach to burn at the moment, it goes into a kind of ‘rest mode’ giving you the ability to sleep a little better. Don’t do anything too crazy when you first start exercising. Take it slow, take it easy and gradually work your way into something more complex. What’s not to love: sleep better and weight loss? Nice!
MORE: How to start walking (runnersworld.com)
Tip 4: Massage your aching body.
This one is a 50/50. Some individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia swear by hot stone massages and deep tissue massages to manage their pain levels. Others will absolutely not let anyone touch them because of their pain level. They’ve tried it and were in pain for weeks. Try this on a day when you have a couple consecutive days off of work: get off work that day, and test your own body by purchasing a foam roller or a small massage wheel from your local store and try it on your quadricep (front of your leg, between knee and groin) and rub it gently for 5 minutes. Massage your own leg deep enough to actually feel it but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to limp around work the next day. Evaluate how you feel the next day. Are you in pain? Do you feel a bit more mobile with that leg? Be sure to evaluate the next couple of days to ensure it’s not a fluke. If you are a bit tight on money ask a relative, friend or someone you trust to do a very light massage on your shoulders. Do not have your neck massaged as a test because if you’re one of those who would be in severe pain following a massage, you’ll have one heck of a time looking around when your neck is in a lot of pain.
Tip 5: Stretch!
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to put yourself in a great mood is to start your day off with some basic stretching. Once you wake up in the morning, enjoy a cool glass of water followed by some light, basic stretches. Stretch everything that bothers you followed by everything that doesn’t, to ensure everything is equal. This is a fantastic way to burn some calories before work (which gives you some caloric leeway for lunch), give you a great start to your day and also helps facilitate sleep in the evening. Be sure to talk to your doctor beforehand if you have a past medical history of broken or displaced bones, ligaments or tendons. Always be aware of your body while you’re stretching. If you start and something doesn’t feel right be sure to immediately terminate the exercise and speak to your physician.
Long story short, if you absolutely can’t sleep at night, do your best to make sleep your number one priority in the evening while following these guidelines. Get things done early, don’t procrastinate and get overwhelmed when it’s your bedtime. Create a schedule and follow it the best you can. If none of that works, you may need to supplement your body with a sleep aid like this one here. We wish you good luck on your journey!