My dogs, Mitra and Pearl, make sleeping look easy. But, most people with Fibromyalgia have some trouble sleeping. We either can’t get to sleep, we toss and turn all night, we can’t stay asleep, or all of the above. When you have Fibromyalgia, it may seem like the sleep demon runs rampant through your brain and body every night! Much has been written about getting better sleep, but I will concentrate on only three ways right now, and will write more about it some other time. Here are some of the things that help me sleep.
Sleep hygiene doesn’t have anything to do with going to bed clean, unless it helps you sleep. Sleep hygiene is your habits around sleep, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. That way your body knows when it is time to go to bed and comes to expect that is what will happen. A specific nighttime routine can be helpful. When I get ready for to bed, I take a bath (which helps relax my muscles), take out my contacts, put some muscle rub or patches (Icy Hot) on any super sore areas, and put on my jammies, all in one order. A cup of herbal tea can help you sleep. I like a tea with kava kava in it. Many people like chamomile. Some people take melatonin. I am always thinking, so I like to journal before bed. I write down all my thoughts so I can go to sleep with a clear mind. If there is anything I have to remember for the next day, I write that down, too. Writing down three things I am grateful for helps me end my day on a positive note. We generally wake up with the same attitude we have when we go to sleep. If you can go to sleep with a positive mood, you can wake up with a positive mood. Other good hygiene practices may include not napping too much; not drinking caffeine too close to bedtime (don’t drink caffeine after 3:00 p.m., or earlier if you find it affects your sleep); not smoking or chewing tobacco or nicotine gum too close to bedtime (nicotine increases your heart rate); or, drinking alcohol too close to bedtime (alcohol raises your blood pressure and affects your sleep cycles).
Turn Off The TV And Other Electronic Devices
I have an alarm on my phone that tells me when it is 10:30, time to turn off the TV, computer, and stop playing or reading on my phone or tablet. These electronic devices emit something called blue light. This blue light affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin and go to sleep. Turn them off at least one hour before sleep. While we are talking of electronics, having them in your bedroom doesn’t help you sleep. In addition to emitting blue light through their screens, these devices emit EMF (electromagnetic field). Excessive EMF interacts with our bodies and can disturb your sleep, give you headaches, nausea, disturb your dreams, and even make you hear and see things. EMF affects different people in different ways. Newer electronics don’t emit as much EMF as older ones. If your alarm clock is more than a few years old, get a new one or keep it across the room and away from you, at least three to five feet away. You want your body and mind to associate your bedroom with sleeping and sex, nothing else. Watching TV, reading, or, heaven forbid, doing work in your bedroom, can make it difficult to sleep. If nothing else about electronics in your bedroom disturbs your sleep, the light from them (whether on or off) may make it difficult to sleep. The light from electronics or an internet modem (with its multiple lights!) can make a great deal of light in a room that should be dark for good sleep.
Getting enough exercise is essential for so many reasons, better sleep is only one of them. More vigorous exercise, such as walking/cardio or weight-lifting, should be done earlier in the day, at least three hours before bed. More relaxing exercise, like gentle yoga or stretching, can be done closer to bedtime, and may help you relax before bed. There are studies that say exercise increases body temperature; post exercise, the body cools down. That makes perfect sense, but the interesting thing is that, when the body cools down, it naturally thinks about sleep onset, helping you fall asleep quicker, sleep slightly longer, and have better sleep quality. Exercise also relieves anxiety and depression, which can affect your ability to sleep well. Many people with Fibromyalgia regularly experience anxiety and depression. I know I do!
There is much more to be said about sleep quality, but these are some ideas to help you. Do you have any tips for better sleep? Please, leave your tips and comments below.