FYBROMYALGIA AND FATIGUE
Fybromyalgia and chronic fatigue are considered separate yet related disorders. They share a common symptom – chronic fatigue that invades and interferes with a person’s lifestyle. Insomnia and lack of deep restorative sleep is a big part of the problem. Improving a person’s sleep is important in treating a patient with fybromyalgia fatigue. Research has shown that sleep is important to mood, fatigue, and concentration. Regardless of why the fatigue is present, improved sleep will help with these three factors. The chronic lack of sleep affects the patient’s overall health. They feel bad, exhausted, and their immune system can be damaged.
COPING WITH FYBROMYALGIA AND CHRONIC FATIGUE
Sleeping pills are not the answer. They are not intended for chronic long-term use. Treating fatigue with fybromyalgia requires an active, not passive, patient as there is no miracle “pill”. The first step in treatment is to check patients to see if there are any snoring or sleep-related breathing problems. Sleep apnea, respiratory problems, allergies, and big tonsils are possibilities and these can be corrected.
There are also lifestyle changes that can be done like cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking to improve sleep. Moreover, sleep habits may need changing. To make a bedroom more sleep-friendly, try these tips:
- Limit noise, light, and other stimuli (pets)
- Keep the room temperature and bedding comfortable
- Do something relaxing before bed, like listening to music or reading
- Turn the alarm clock so it’s not facing you
If you’re having trouble going to sleep, get up and do something relaxing. If you stay in bed, you will just toss and turn and stress out. Read, listen to music, have a cup of herb or decaffeinated tea, or watch a video. When you are relaxed and tired again, you can go back to bed.
MORE TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP
Don’t nap. Many patients have circadian rhythm problems. Napping can throw you off. Keep a regular bedtime schedule. Remember, napping during the day will be sleep taken from you at night.
Reduce stress. Anything that reduces stress will help you sleep better. Whether it is yoga, Pilates, or meditation, practice stress-reducing techniques for better sleep.
Start stretching. Stretching several times a day is important in relieving tight muscles. A warm bath will also help in the stretching. Make stretching a ritual.
Exercise. Regular exercise is also important. Any time you have pain, insomnia, or fatigue, exercise will provide relief. I know it seems like you just don’t have the energy to do it, but once you start you will find an increase in energy. Regular exercise will also increase endurance, muscle tone, and flexibility. If there is s short-term pain trade-off, the benefits will far out-weigh the temporary pain. Exercise helps reduce stress, improves sleep, and reduces fatigue.
Pace yourself. People who suffer from fybromyalgia have good and bad days. Many times, a patient will have a good day and overdo activities, trying to make up for the bad days. This usually backfires by paying for it the next day. Try to pace yourself, especially with exercise. Don’t try to run around the block on the first day. Start slowly. Walk around the block one time; do it regularly, every day if possible. When you do your daily activities, try to keep a routine schedule and don’t overdo. Moderation is the key to getting things accomplished even with fybromyalgia.
Try medications. If your body is worn out from pain, antidepressant and other medications are something to consider. It is always something that you can quit taking if you don’t like it or if it doesn’t work for you. Anti-inflammatories and analgesics can also help.
There are three medications approved for treating fybromyalgia: medications, depression meds, and Savella. medications is an anti-epileptic drug. depression meds and Savella, antidepressants, are in the category of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Consider complementary therapies. Alternative therapies like acupuncture and massage have helped some individuals with fybromyalgia. Some studies suggest that acupuncture helps fybromyalgia patients but others do not reveal any real benefits. Massage would be great to sooth achy muscles and help reduce tension in the deep tissues. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying these treatments.
Other activities like volunteer work, hobbies, and a social support network will help keep your mind off the problem and refocus your energies. Even a sense of humor will help with fybromyalgia. Anything you can do to make your quality of life better, to bring you more happiness, is a good choice. You can choose to do something that will increase your feeling of fulfillment and at the same time, refocus your thoughts off the pain.