Many people with fibromyalgia have a tough time falling asleep and staying asleep.
Since their bodies are more sensitive, they’re often unable to fall asleep as quickly. If they’re in pain, tossing and turning in bed can aggravate the pain further and cause them to be awake. Two symptoms of fibromyalgia are ‘brain fog’ and extreme fatigue. While a clean diet can mitigate brain fog to some extent, nothing quite beats a good night’s sleep for restoration and healing.
Living in a constant battle of fibromyalgia symptoms or dealing with high levels of stress and living in isolation, it can feel comforting to turn to late-night television, midnights snacking, and endless scrolling social media applications night when you can't sleep. Unfortunately, these coping skills can lead to being more tired and overwhelmed than ever.
I've found that it takes mixing things up, experimenting with my lifestyle, adjusted my evening routine, and adding positive habits to discover how I can get better rest.
Here are some tips for better sleep when dealing with fibromyalgia:
STAY ON SCHEDULE
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and try to get up at the same time every morning, including weekends. Routine will establish a sleeping pattern that helps your body get sleepy faster and help get into REM sleep, which is needed to rest and repair the mind.
Try not to change your patterns just because it’s the weekend and sleeping late. If you need to sleep in, then you’re not getting enough sleep daily.
Try and sleep for three days without an alarm clock. Wake up only when you’re fully awake. Record down the total number of hours you were asleep and divide it by three. Doing this will give you an idea of how many hours of sleep you need daily. Go to bed at the appropriate time to get the required amount of rest.
MAKE YOUR BEDROOM SLEEP HEAVEN
Your bedroom should only be for sleeping. Do not work or watch TV in there. Keep digital and electronic devices out of the room. By only sleeping in your bedroom, your brain will associate it with sleeping and not other activities.
Your bed should be soft and comfortable but provide enough support for your body. A comfortable bed and pillow are prerequisites for good sleep.
The room should also be dark and cool. Try and use blackout curtains to shut out as much light as possible. If there are little switches in your room with small red-light indicators, block them out. Make sure your alarm clock is not giving off some light too. The digital ones sometimes do. It may seem extreme, but even these small lights can disrupt one’s sleep.
Avoid using mobile devices such as your phone and laptops at least 2 hours before bedtime. The screens on these devices emit a blue light that confuses your body and makes it think it’s daytime. If you need to work late, try using a screen or glasses that reduce the intensity of the light emitted by these devices.
As for keeping the room cool, you can either use a fan or an air conditioner. Whatever the case, you shouldn’t be sweating in bed.
SLEEP WITH A HEATING PAD
The heating pad should be set on a low setting to avoid burning the skin and can be placed anywhere on the body that hurts the most to loosen the muscles and relieve pain while you sleep.
TRY A NOISE MACHINE
If sleeping in a quiet room is too distracting, you can sleep with a white noise machine to induce sleep and to keep you sleeping throughout the night. Some of these machines will go on all night, while others will shut off at a set time. They also make machines that mimic the sounds of the ocean, rain, or a babbling brook.
EAT DINNER EARLIER
One of the most common habits that tend to make it more difficult to fall asleep is eating too close to bedtime. When you eat close to bedtime, your body springs into action to digest food. During sleep, the only job that your body should be doing is healing and regenerating itself. Instead, eat a small snack to bring up your blood sugar, as low blood sugar can interfere with sleep. Eat large meals about 3-4 hours before sleeping so that digestion doesn’t interfere with sleep.
LESS ALCOHOL AT BEDTIME
Alcohol is a depressant, but it also reduces your ability to get a deep night’s sleep. It would be best if you had your last alcoholic beverage no sooner than four hours before attempting to go to bed.
AVOID CAFFEINE BEFORE SLEEP
Caffeinated beverages act as stimulants that interfere with getting to sleep and staying asleep. It's best not to drink caffeinated beverages within four hours of trying to get to sleep.
TRY CHAMOMILE TEA
Chamomile tea offers numerous benefits for the body, including inducing relaxation so that you can sleep. This mildly flavored medicinal tea is also appropriate for alleviating menstrual cramping that might be keeping you from falling asleep.
REVIEW WHEN YOU EXERCISE
Exercise is physically and mentally stimulating, so it can interfere with getting into a relaxed state before trying to sleep. If you want to exercise fibromyalgia, try to do short bursts of exercise about 5-6 hours before falling asleep. If you want a calming exercise to try before bedtime, consider restorative yoga, which can promote sleepiness.
TAKE A WARM BATH
Take a warm bath with calming essential oils like lavender right before bedtime, and mostly as part of a nightly ritual, can work as a trigger to train the brain to know it’s bedtime, helping you find the rest you need so much.
You can do meditation before sleep to relax the muscles, ease pain, and reduce stress before sleeping. Meditation also helps lessen the perception of pain in those who have fibromyalgia and can be used during times of stress to decrease tension.
What To Do If You Still Cannot Sleep
Nothing is worse than lying in bed, suffering from pain, and being unable to sleep. When you have fibromyalgia, however, this is what some nights are like, even with the best of sleep hygiene and stress reduction.
If you can’t get to sleep after a half hour or so of trying, you should get out of bed, use the restroom, and perhaps read a little bit. This will take your mind off the stress of not getting to sleep, and you can use this time to get a little bit more tired. Do not do this in bed but another room in the house.
When you feel tired again, try to go back to bed and attempt to sleep again, meditating on a comforting thought or situation if necessary to put you in a frame of mind to sleep.