One of the issues associated with fibromyalgia is difficulty with sleep. Whether it is due to chronic muscle pain or depressive symptoms, people with fibromyalgia often struggle with being able to get to sleep and having a restful night’s sleep. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to improve the measure and quality of sleep in those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
Here are some tips for better sleep when dealing with fibromyalgia:
• 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.
• Go to sleep at the same time every night. You should go to sleep at the same time every night, getting up at the same time every morning. This trains your brain to sleep at the proper time and helps you sleep better.
• Use 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 prescribed period. They also make machines that mimic the sounds of the ocean, rain, or a babbling brook.
• Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. This tends to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, eat a small snack to bring up your blood sugar as low blood sugar can interfere with sleep. Large meals should be eaten about 3-4 hours before sleeping so that digestion doesn’t interfere with sleep.
• Don’t drink alcohol before sleeping. Alcohol is a depressant but it also reduces your ability to get a good night’s sleep. You should have your last alcoholic beverage no sooner than four hours before attempting to go to bed.
• Don’t drink caffeinated beverages before sleep. Caffeinated beverages act as stimulants that interfere with getting to sleep and staying asleep. Do not drink caffeinated beverages within four hours of trying to get to sleep.
• Avoid heavy exercise before sleeping. Exercise is activating and can interfere with getting to sleep if you exercise too soon before trying to sleep. If you exercise with fibromyalgia, you should do so about 5-6 hours before falling asleep. Exercise creates energy in the body, and so it’s best to give your body a chance to settle down before getting to sleep. Calming exercises like yoga are okay as they can actually promote sleepiness.
• A warm bath with calming essential oils like lavender right before bedtime, and especially 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.
• Practice meditation. Meditation can be done before sleep to relax the muscles, ease pain, and reduce stress before going to sleep. Meditation also helps lessen the perception of pain in those who suffer from fibromyalgia and can be done at other times of the day besides bedtime for stress relief.
• Use your bed for sleep and sex only. Do not read in bed or watch television while you are in bed. This only activates your mind and allows you to associate your bed with things other than sleeping.
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 being able to get to sleep and you can use this time to get a little bit more tired. Do not do this in bed but in another room in the house.
When you feel tired again, try to go back to sleep, using meditation if necessary to put you in a frame of mind to sleep. Meditation can be used when you are having difficulty sleeping because, when done in a tired state, it can induce sleep and you will sleep more restfully.
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