Business Travel with a Chronic Condition

The days are usually long. The rooms are usually cold. The food options aren’t the best. And sleeping in a strange bed without your pillow is never very fun.

Traveling for business requires different strategies than traveling for pleasure, because you can’t always modify your schedule and you don’t have a built-in support network of family to help lug your bags around. The days are usually long. The rooms are usually cold. The food options aren’t the best. And sleeping in a strange bed without your pillow is never very fun.

For many of my work trips I am traveling with some of my employees or co-workers and have vendors to meet. Not showing up to a session doesn’t always work for me, unless I am calling in dead. So I have crafted a few strategies that help me survive business travel while dealing with the chronic pain and fatigue I experience.

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” ~ Albert Einstein

Continue reading “Business Travel with a Chronic Condition”

It Begins with Sleep

I have taken a very deliberate break from blogging and social media lately, as the demands of my day job have been consuming my time and energy. And much like others at the beginning of every new year, I have been trying to lose a few stubborn pounds that have crept on. I already have a pretty healthy diet and exercise program, so I decided reducing stress and getting some extra sleep might just be the two missing factors. And when your schedule is already overflowing and you need some extra Zzzzs, something has to give – for me that was writing and browsing social media.

But, with Sleep Awareness Week around the corner it was time to write a new post….

It Begins with Sleep

If “cotton is the fabric of our lives”, sleep should be considered the fabric of bodies and minds, weaving together all of the ingredients to help us reach our goals. Sleep allows us to recharge, makes us less hungry, makes us more focused and productive, and keeps us happier and less stressed. For more about the benefits of sleep, visit here.

The word I am focusing on this year is Deliberate, so that included being more deliberate and intentional about getting a restful night sleep. I have some links below to past blog posts describing what I do to unwind at bedtime and prepare myself for bed and sleep. These days, even that takes preparation.

Sleep and Electronics

It seems that while most people know these things, not everyone is listening. People use their smartphones as alarm clocks – so the device is usually just an arm’s reach away from the bed. Tempting to reach for it when we hear the buzz or ding of some email or post! While it’s best to keep your smartphone in another room altogether, if you’re going to use is as an alarm clock, use these other features too:

  • Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature so that you’re not being bombarded with alerts all night.
  • Make sure the display is off to avoid “blue light” emissions that suppress melatonin.
  • Use a sleep timer and play some soothing sounds or music to help you fall asleep.
  • Keep it far enough away that it’s not easy to reach for – and definitely don’t sleep with it under your pillow!

Sleep and Children/Teens

The actual Sleep Awareness Week this year (March 11-17th) happens to coincide with “Spring Break” around here in Texas. I find this funny, since teens see Spring Break as a time to abandon their normal sleeping routines and bedtimes, preferring to stay up late binge watching Netflix, playing video games, or Snap chatting with friends. All of this extra electronic stimuli wreaks havoc on their ability to disengage their brains for some good quality sleep. And we all know that teens rarely want to listen to the advice of their parents when it comes to bedtime, but getting quality sleep and having a regular routine can help anyone better manage stress and maintain healthy habits during the day.

I find it disturbing that I opened my Target ad today to find a sale on “sleep aids, sleep vitamins, or energy supplements” and one of the items depicted was “Children’s Sleep with Melatonin” that promotes restful sleep. As a society have we become so addicted to our “always on, always connected” mentality that we now have to give our children aids for sleeping? We would rather reach for a pill than change our habits to adopt healthy life style changes. That is definitely not me. I will do anything first before reaching for a pill, save for the few vitamins I take.

Sleep and Fibromyalgia

As someone who has suffered from fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now, I know the double-edged sword this condition creates. Lack of sleep exacerbates the pain and daytime fatigue, and the pain makes sleeping at night difficult. Then you add to that the OTC or prescription medication used to help one sleep, and that can add to the daytime drowsiness and hungover feeling. Although I still usually sleep about 6 hours during the week and 7-8 hours on the weekend, my goal is for quality, uninterrupted sleep to help me recharge. And that comes from good bedtime habits.

Links

Here are some links to additional reading and past blogs about getting better sleep:

References:

My Past Blog Posts About My Sleep Strategies:

Begin with the End in Mind

When doing any sort of strategic planning session, I always “begin with the end in mind.” So when we are thinking ahead to the next day of our busy lives, we should think about getting a good nights sleep, design what we think that looks like, and then plan for that in our schedule as well. Remember, it begins with sleep.

Do you have any tips for better quality sleep? What are your bedtime routines?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Click here to learn more about Sleep Awareness Week 2018

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

To Sleep, Per Chance to Dream

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“To sleep, per chance to dream – for in this sleep of death what dreams may come.” ~ William Shakespeare

Having Fibromyalgia, I find I quite often don’t sleep well. I can’t fall asleep. Or I can’t stay asleep. Or when I do sleep a few hours, it’s not restful. And I certainly don’t remember my dreams very well. All common issues for those who suffer this condition.

Some nights, despite how tired I may be and how many good habits I use to prepare for bed (hot tea, warm bath, lavender spray…), it seems like I am wide awake once my head hits the pillow and I turn out the lights. My mind will be racing and I just can’t seem to be able to turn it off.

Those are the nights I pull out a little journal from my night stand, and I write down the random thoughts that pop into my head. I just write for as long I can, whatever gibberish I want. And somehow, the process of getting those thoughts out of my head and onto paper helps. I am able to quiet my mind, lie back down, and somehow sleep…per chance to dream.

Cheers!

Cynthia

P. S. Fibromyalgia and sleep troubles are, to me, very much like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? Does lack of sleep and increased fatigue lead to FMS? Or does FMS create the sleep disturbances which then leads to the increased fatigue? Some studies indicate FMS is a by-product of sleep disorders. Seeking out the help of a sleep specialist might then be the cure for a good night’s sleep.

 

A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep

There’s an Irish proverb that goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”

It’s no secret that we live in a world of always-on, information overload. I started this post earlier this week while I was out of town for work, as I was caught up in a self-imposed state of sleep deprivation. Easy to do because: 1) I don’t sleep well when not in my own bed and 2) I am not receiving the evil eye from my husband for spending too much time on my phone or tablet. But yet thanks to our ‘smart’ devices, our attention span is now worse than a goldfish. Smart devices making us dumb and taking us away from precious sleep, both directly and indirectly. So what can we do?

Continue reading “A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep”