How to Sleep Better

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

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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”