How to Sleep Better

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

I fully intended to get this blog posted back in May during Better Sleep month but, as is often the case, life got in the way. I have struggled for years with getting good quality sleep. There are nights where I just cannot fall asleep, and others where I just can’t stay asleep. While the ideal amount is between 7-9 hours for most, I still average about 6 hours a night. More than 7 hours of sleep, and I feel out of sorts. Lately I have been much better about sleeping through the night, since incorporating some simple strategies.

Those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, sleep disturbances are one of the common symptoms associated with the condition, which then compounds the daytime fatigue. But allowing the body to rest and recharge at night is so critical to everyone’s physical and mental health, not just those with fibromyalgia.counting-sheep-1

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

~ Thomas Dekker

Health Benefits

That old saying “early to bed, early to rise makes your body healthy, wealthy, and wise” is more than just an old wives’ tale. Here’s a list of health benefits from getting adequate sleep:

  • It can help you fight off diseases
  • It can help improve your mood
  • It can lower your risk for obesity and help you lose weight
  • It can decrease inflammation
  • It allows the body to repair itself from stress and ultraviolet exposure

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”
Arianna Huffington

Getting those Zzzz’s

While you sleep, your body is working to heal itself, build up your immune system, and recharge your brain cells. Now the struggle is that people with fibromyalgia have trouble falling and staying asleep. We often don’t reach that deep sleep stage required for all of the restorative health benefits. There are a myriad of underlining conditions that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest:

  • Health Issues such as allergies, sleep apnea, asthma, narcolepsy, or hormone imbalance
  • Physical Issues such as chronic or acute pain, or certain prescription drugs
  • Mental Issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety
  • Environmental Issues such as too much light in your room, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or performing shift work

So assuming you don’t need to have a medical condition checked out, how do you improve your sleep, to reap those benefits? Getting into a routine helps. Here are some simple strategies that might help you establish that routine:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine.
  • Curb the electronics in the bedroom, that is no TV, iPad, etc. before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable, quiet, dark and cool.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and don’t eat 3 hours before bed.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Do not use tobacco.

“Golden Slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles await when you rise.” ~ The Beatles

Bedtime Routines

As we age we need less sleep, but we still need good quality sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. One of the best habits is to take a warm bath or shower before bed. This raises the body temperature, and then allows it to cool down faster, which helps you reach that deep sleep. Couple that with some aromatherapy, and you should feel relaxed and calm for bedtime. I developed my routine after reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive that discussed redefining success and details her wake-up call. She has another book called The Sleep Revolution that undoubtedly has more information on the subject of sleep as well.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime and bath aids:

So go draw a bath, sip some tea, rub some lavender oil between your toes and get a good night’s sleep. These are my tried and true methods. You’ll thank me in the morning!

For more sleep strategies, visit the National Sleep Foundation,”The F Word” blog and Sarah’s Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles series, or listen to JJ Virgin’s podcast with Arianna Huuffington – two big proponents of sleep!  Do you have other sleep strategies you use?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Share Your World

I rarely do these challenges, but I really liked Cee’s Photography’s “Share Your World – June 12, 2017” post. I am a little late to the game this week because I was traveling, but I thought I would play along and share a little bit about me.

What do you do when you’re not working? If you are retired, what do you that is not part of your regular daytime routine?
Well I work a lot! However, my free time is spent volunteering – I am on the board of a local food pantry Good Samaritans of Garland (we are currently trying to raise funds for much needed building repairs) – and I volunteer for my leadership alumni group. I also enjoy working out, photography, blogging, reading, cooking, gardening, and traveling.

GG2017
Garland Gives Day 2017 at Good Samaritans of Garland

What would you do if you won the lottery?
First, I would splurge on a new computer and camera! But first and foremost, I would get our finances in order so that my daughter’s college was paid for and then my husband and I could retire. I will have 20 years at my job in September, so I am eligible to retire then, but my current goal is to retire at 25 years. We would look for a house with some land so that we can both enjoy the things we love to do – gardening, photography, cooking for me; working on cars, forging steel for knives, gardening for the hubby. And he wants chickens so we can have farm fresh eggs all the time. 🙂 And retirement would give me much more free time for volunteering, so I can give back.

What makes you laugh the most?
My husband, my kids, and my dogs always make me laugh. Like Cee, I too love Friends reruns and the nerd in me loves The Big Bang Theory, but my current summer guilty pleasure is binge-watching Bones on Netflix. Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan is pure gold.

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What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?
As an IT professional, you would think I have the latest and greatest. But my peeve is that technology changes so rapidly, and I like things to last! I use my 8 year old iMac for my blogging, and it has been painfully obvious for a year or so that I need to upgrade! 😦 Where’s that lottery payout?

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am grateful for the fact that I have a job that affords me the opportunity to travel to conferences for professional development and was able to visit Philadelphia for the first time. I saw some wonderful places I have never seen before, although I had to cut the trip shorter than originally planned. This coming week I am looking forward to some test results. (More on that in another blog installment.)

Cheers!

Cynthia

Reblog: Fibro Friday #128

Loved this quote that was shared on the Fibro Blogger Directory‘s weekly link-up, so I thought I would share it. Sharing is caring, after all. I often link up my relevant blog posts here (although there haven’t been many lately!). You will find many great bloggers who write about fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, Lyme disease, et al. I hope you will check them out!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength
to body and soul.”
~ John Muir

via Fibro Friday week 128 — Fibro Blogger Directory

Cheers!

Cynthia

Shining a Light on Fibromyalgia

Every day is Awareness Day for those who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Every year May 12th has been designated as “Fibromyalgia Awareness Day” to shine a light on this invisible illness. Most of us who suffer from this chronic condition feel that every day is our awareness day, as we often have to explain what it is to people. Trust me when I say it is more than what you see in the pharmaceutical commercials on TV.

Shine-a-purple-light-wide Continue reading “Shining a Light on Fibromyalgia”

Self-Care Self-Check

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”

Back in January I wrote about the importance of self-care and some things I vowed to work on myself. As May is Fibromyalgia Awareness month, I decided it was time to check in and see just how good or bad I am doing on my own self-care. Practice what you preach, and all. I have found more success following strategies for healthy living, than I ever did taking a pill that the doctors prescribed. So taking care of myself has to be my number one priority, in order to minimize my fibro-flares. You cannot, after all, drink from an empty cup, and having a flare can often feel like you are running on empty.Cannotdrink

Here’s what I wanted to improve on: Continue reading “Self-Care Self-Check”

Evoking Childhood Memories

While I know my great-grandmother’s garden is long-gone, I can only hope some of the golden poppies, purple daisies, or fuchsias still remain.

Do fragrances ever evoke memories for you? Our sense of smell is in close proximity to our memories in the brain. For me, certain floral perfume smells remind me of the beautiful and fragrant flowers growing in my Great-Grandmother’s garden when I was a kid. I am a “California girl living in Texas,” having moved to Texas over 20 years ago, and oh, how I miss my home state. If I could live anywhere, I would probably move back to California near the coast.

purple-daisy

My mother grew up in Pacific Grove. My grandmother taught at the elementary school for years. My great-grandmother had a little house there with a big garden. I think that is where my love of gardening and growing flowers and looking at things bloom and thrive comes from. It seemed like my great-grandmother could grow anything IN anything. I remember succulents growing in old shoes and frying pans! She grew succulents way before it became trendy and cool.

She was still tending her garden, even into her 90s, when she passed in 1974. And in the winter of 1975, an article was written in the San Jose Mercury News California Today section called “Moods in Haiku” by Peter DiVenere. He took several wonderful pictures of my great-grandmother’s garden and her tending to it, and wrote the following haiku:

ca-poppy

Gold long forgotten
Beauty and riches remain
California poppy

Flowers everywhere | In the garden a painting | California poppies

Wild upon the hills | As in days long gone today’s | Poppies embrace you

The garden path ends | She gathers blossoms with her smile | Autumn of the year

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Thorny thistles thrives | Old post reflects all past glory | Purple beacon shines

The tale of Genji | The charm of his disposition | Lady Murasaki

By the garden fence | Purple clusters feel the breeze | Safe from the mower

pink-fuschias

Pink blossoms aglow | Anticipating stories of | Far flown places

fuschias

Hanging from a branch | Fuchsias are doing nothing | On a summer day

Tiny little fuchsias | Dangling from tender branches | Just before the dawn

I would love to go back to Pacific Grove to see where my grandmother’s house was, to see if the old brick wall surrounding it still stands. And to go to my great-grandmother’s house to see if any of the flowers remain. While I know her garden is long-gone as the lot was sold to build another house on after she passed, I can only hope some of the golden poppies, purple daisies, or fuchsias that she tended to still remain.

In so many ways I am like my great grandmother. We were both only 5’4″ in a family of tall people. My mom now thinks her grandmother also suffered from fibromyalgia. It would be interesting to find some genetic link to this condition.

Oh, how I wish we had kept that property and still had my great grandmother’s beautiful garden…oh the memories that can be stirred up from a scent of a flower or of a perfume…

Picture of the original article I have had tucked away

Do perfumes or smells bring back memories for you?

Cheers!

Cynthia

via Daily Prompt: Perfume

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Mindset and Fibromyalgia

I have fibromyalgia, but it does not have me.

I made a conscious choice a long time ago to not act like a victim and to deal with this illness known as fibromyalgia with positive attitude and healthy habits. But to be perfectly honest, some days it is tough to maintain the positivism when you absolutely feel like you have been hit by a mack truck. I am not going to lie and say I don’t have bouts of crying and “why me?” moments, but they are few and far between since a shift in attitude.Ihavefibro.png

So how do you cultivate a positive mindset when you are dealing with chronic pain?

Continue reading “Mindset and Fibromyalgia”