Monday, March 19, 2007

Sleep Issues!

Fibromyalgia is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. Sleep is an issue for me so when I got this newsletter today I decided to share this article!

Vol. 7, No. 3

Get a Better Night’s Sleep

We all know that sleeping troubles go hand-in-hand with fibromyalgia. But did you know there are some simple ways you can help yourself ease those troubles? Try these tips, straight from the FM patients who have benefited from following them.

Check your sleeping surface. At a friend’s suggestion, Susan Kuske of Eagan, Minn., replaced her 20-year-old mattress with a new one that had extra padding. It has “helped significantly for morning stiffness.” Mattress pads have proven helpful for some patients, too. Heated pads are also available.

Consider a sleep study. Maybe your difficulty sleeping is simply part of your FM symptoms—but maybe the trouble stems from a different disorder altogether, like sleep apnea. Pinpointing the exact cause of your sleep troubles, and the ways they manifest themselves, will make it easier for you to manage them.

Talk with your doctor about medications that may help—and try doing some homework beforehand. For instance, Paula Reid takes melatonin, a naturally-occurring hormone that regulates the wake-sleep cycle. “I do not only take the melatonin during the evening for retiring, but also during the daytime,” she says, “and find that it is helpful to some extent with the pain.”

Set up the bedroom for sleep success. Make sure to eliminate sources of light—not just lamps, but also television screens—that may be cuing your brain to stay awake. Try an eye-mask, earplugs, or a sound machine that plays ocean waves or birdsong for extra assistance in blocking out disturbances. Lila Peck sprays her bedding with a linen spray she makes herself, scenting the sheets with lavender and sandalwood to help her fall asleep.

Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to! Does the nightly news make you feel anxious or sad? Consider getting your news from a different source earlier in the day. Do crime dramas tense you up? Try eliminating them for a while.

Exercise. FM patients are used to hearing about the benefits of exercise—but you may not realize it can also help your sleeping patterns. Studies indicate that moderate exercise helps improve quality of sleep. “I walk at least 30 minutes a day and feel that it is an important factor overall, but also for sleep,” says Kuske. “I often use my break at work to walk. Clears my head and helps my body!”

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night, and to wake up at the same time every morning (even on weekends!). This will get your body into the habit of resting during those same hours each day.

Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants including tobacco.

Develop a bedtime routine. Kuske likes to read the Bible or another book with a positive message before she goes to sleep. Other patients may play relaxing music or make lists of things they are grateful for. Using a self-massage machine, or getting a massage from a loved one, can also make it easier to relax and fall asleep.

Margaret McGing recommends keeping a “sleep journal.” “Include the times you go to sleep, wake up, what you ate/drank that day, when you ate/drank, when/what forms of exercise [you did], and record how often and what times you might wake up during the night,” she suggests. Yes, it’s tedious—“but very helpful to a neurologist if one should continue to have problems and seek help,” she says.

Restrict your daytime napping. Even if you feel tired, try to nap for only 20 minutes or so—otherwise when it’s time to hit the hay that night, you may have trouble falling asleep.


My husband does not seem to have a problem with the last item... he rarely misses his daily nap and can still go right to sleep at night. Tom reminded me the other night about a time when Spencer was little and he announced to his Dad how easy it is to get to sleep.

Spencer's wisdom... lay down, close your eyes and wait!

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