Getting sleep is difficult for those living with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses. The little sleep we do get is oftentimes not quality sleep, and it’s essential for our bodies to get sleep in order to heal. When pain levels are high, it’s hard to sleep; however, when we don’t get restful sleep, our pain levels become higher. This is known as the pain-sleep cycle and it’s a common occurrence with fibromyalgia. After some research, I compiled a list of tips for better sleep so you can break the sleep-pain cycle.
Effects of Poor Sleep
It’s common for individuals living with fibromyalgia to not get the restorative sleep needed each day to help with symptoms such as tight muscles or chronic pain. Sleep we get is usually in the light stages of sleep and not the REM stage of sleep which is also known as the restorative stage. This is poor sleep. Poor sleep causes an increase in body pains and symptoms. The increase in pain and symptoms results in poor sleep known as the sleep-pain cycle which leads to the sleep-wake cycle, too.
Some common symptoms of a lack of sleep include:
- increased pains
- weight gain
- lowered immune system
Quality vs Quantity
As many of us may or may not know, it’s not about how much sleep we are getting each night but rather the type of sleep we are getting. This is when quality trumps quantity. Quality of sleep is a type of sleep. For example, restful or restless. The quantity of sleep is the number of hours of sleep you get each night. They are drastically different, but both work together for restorative sleep leaving you to feel well-rested the next day.
Tips for Better Sleep
Here are some tips for quality sleep as well as the quantity of sleep.
Set the Environment
Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Removing your television, computer, and other stimulants out of the bedroom will help you get your body undisturbed sleep. If these items are in your room, your brain is aware they are in the room and it will disrupt your sleep.
Turn Off the Screens
Avoid screen time two hours prior to bedtime. The lights from screens will signal to your brain that it’s awake time which stimulates your brain preventing sleep.
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Leave Your Bed
If you lie awake longer than fifteen minutes, leave the bedroom and find a quiet non-stimulating activity. This could be reading under a soft light in the living room or flipping through a magazine. Avoid screen time because it will stimulate your brain keeping you awake.
Having the right mattress for your body’s needs will not only increase your sleep but will also lower body pains.
Turn the Clock
If you have a clock with LED lights, turn the clock away from the bed. This prevents the LED light from shining through your closed eyelids stimulating the part of the brain that allows you to sleep.
Up the Serotonin
When exercising, use caution, but increase your heart rate. This will increase your serotonin with aid in sleeping.
Having the right pillow also ensures a night of good sleep and eases back pain. Try a cooling pillow if you are a hot sleeper.
Keep out any residual lights such as the lights from a night light, smart devices, or the bedside clock with a sleep mask. There are cooling ones, ones with headphones, and simple ones.
Many individuals with fibromyalgia experience a common symptom of excessive sweating. This occurs more often at night making it uncomfortable to sleep no matter how cold the air conditioning may be. Try cooling it down with cooling pillows, blankets, sheets, or even a mattress topper.
Healthy Sleep Tips from the National Sleep Foundation.