Sleep Strategies for Fibro Sufferers
How Fibromyalgia Affects Sleep
Perhaps one of the best-known symptoms of fibromyalgia is sleep difficulties. It seems that no matter how many hours a person with fibromyalgia spends in bed, sleep is rarely the restful gift it should be. There are several sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia that include:
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Frequent awakenings through the night
· Sleep interruptions even in deep sleep
· Sleep apnea
Fibromyalgia sufferers are very familiar with the feeling of waking up the next day feeling as though they hadn’t slept a wink the night before. Fatigue, exhaustion and a lack of energy contribute to the familiar fibro fog that follows interrupted sleep. Additionally, the pain cycle is exacerbated by insufficient or interrupted sleep. The combination of pain and sleep disturbance feed one another – the pain keeps the person awake and lack of sleep makes the pain worse. Research has shown that inadequate sleep, especially slow wave sleep, decreases tolerance for pain and increases levels of discomfort and fatigue. Chronic pain, worsened by sleep disturbance is also connected to the statistic that 20% of fibromyalgia patients also have depression or anxiety disorder.
How To Improve Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging for a fibromyalgia sufferer, but there are some strategies that can help improve sleep and may be helpful in decreasing pain, fatigue and fibro fog. Along with these strategies, asking the doctor for a suitable sleep medication may also be beneficial.
· Don’t oversleep. Get only the amount of sleep that is necessary to feel refreshed and healthy the following day. Excessive time in bed seems to augment shallow sleep.
· Keep a sleep diary. Recording the quality of sleep and triggers that may have caused disturbance gives good insight into sleeping problems.
· Wake up at the same time each day. Circadian rhythm benefits by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
· Exercise regularly. Exercise is beneficial because it promotes better-quality sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime (avoid exercise three hours before bedtime).
· Minimize sound disturbances as much as possible by sleeping in a sound-attenuated bedroom.
· Avoid long naps in the day. Long naps affect night sleeping.
· Keep room temperature cool for sleeping.
· Have a light snack before bed. Hunger can either keep a person awake or wake them up.
· Avoid beverages like coffee, tea, and alcohol before bed.
Learning to Relax
Along with these strategies, easing into bedtime feeling relaxed can help ensure a relaxed night’s sleep – hopefully without disturbance. Some ways to relax before going to bed include:
· A warm bath to sooth and relax the body
· Stimulating blood flow in the skin with a loofah while in the tub
· Use a self-massage device (like tennis ball or wooden roller) to relieve painful tender points
· Do some yoga or stretching to relax and elongate congested muscles
· Listen to calming music
· Use an eye mask to ensure the sleeping space is dark
· Use a white noise machine if necessary to keep the room as quiet as possible
· Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature – too cold is as bad as too hot
Other Therapies for Sleep Disturbance
There are also a number of therapies that can be useful to securing a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems can be addressed through:
· Relaxation training
· Stress reduction
· Cognitive therapy
People who can handle stress properly are also better able to sleep. They can usually handle the symptoms of fibromyalgia much better as well. When a person is stressed out, the symptoms become worse, including insomnia. Medications can be useful to help ease fibromyalgia pain or to help with sleep. There is no single therapy to control fibromyalgia pain and symptoms completely. The best way to deal with sleep disturbance is to blend a variety of strategies until the right individual combination surfaces.