How to unlock the secrets to better sleep with fibromyalgia

pexels-photo-374898A few simple changes can make a difference to your quality of sleep. 

After weeks of not sleeping the body’s functions become impaired making it extremely difficult to function in a normal way. (Whatever normal is for a fibromyalgia sufferer). 

I know this very well from first hand experience, having suffered from poor unrefreshing sleep for years.

Insomnia, fatigue and pain are all part of life if you live with fibromyalgia. The symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as fatigue and pain are all made worse with poor quality sleep.

Over time I’ve found some solutions that have helped me get a better nights sleep. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all with these suggestions. That said, it’s still worth giving them a go. Just being aware what might work is useful. 

On occasions I still find I have some problems sleeping but I can solve these more effectively than previously.

Common problems experienced range from:

  • getting to sleep
  • staying asleep until morning
  • waking during the night
  • getting back to sleep after waking up

Have a look at the following suggestions for improving your sleep

  • Go for regular exercise every morning, for example a walk 
  • Check your bedroom temperature and lighting are beneficial for sleep 
  • Adjust your bed and pillows to make it as comfy as possible 
  • Invest in a electric blanket to warm the bed before you get in and help relax muscles 
  • Avoid smoking, over eating or drinking caffeine directly before bedtime 

My top tips for getting to sleep

  • Help your mind wind down for the day
  • Get into a regular sleep routine for adjusting your Circadian rhythm, try to get up at the same time every day
  • Turn off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime
  • Read a relaxing book or listen to gentle music
  • Try meditation, particularly one for helping you to sleep 
  • Use ear plugs and a eye mask to block unwanted noise and light
  • Get into a comfortable sleep position and then try a relaxation routine 

Whilst you are asleep make sure your room doesn’t have anything that will wake you like a mobile phone.

A pet that sleeps in your bedroom and disturbs you in the night, should be encouraged to sleep elsewhere.

If you wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep get up and find something that makes you tired then return to bed.

If you find by morning you have not had enough sleep go back to bed and sleep for a while longer. If you catch up with a couple of hours sleep every night you will see the difference after a few months.

I recently read several articles which mentioned vitamin D (sunlight) exposure daily in the morning shortly after rising can help and mindfulness meditation both improved the quality of sleep in fibromyalgia sufferers. 

I believe this to be true because I usually get up and do a daily walk every morning and this regulates my circadian rhythm over the next 24 hours. It’s more important to get up at the same time every day than the time I go to sleep. 

I’ve found improvements in my concentration and ability to switch off at night after practicing regular Meditation on a daily basis. Explore meditation apps for sessions covering mindfulness and sleep. Have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help pages on  Meditation and  Exercise

If you have insomnia and it’s not necessarily fibromyalgia related, get it checked out by your doctor or health professional. If they prescribe sleeping pills it would be advisable to be referred to see a specialist sleep consultant.

Have a look at the  NHS sleep self assessment  to determine how good your sleep is.  From this link you will find some helpful information about sleep.

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Keeping Positive and Motivated with Fibromyalgia

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Or trying to…….. When you have a long term condition like fibromyalgia and you often suffer from constant pain on a daily basis, it’s difficult to keep positive and motivated.

In January it’s probably more likely that you will feel more fed up. Feeling flat and deflated after Christmas is common for some.

My most FAQ as a fibromyalgia sufferer is….

‘Why am I in pain again and what will make me feel better?’

In truth there’s no quick fix. It’s going to vary quite a bit from person to person what can help. 

Putting a positive slant on it. It’s a new year, and it could be time to try out a new hobby or something you have always wanted to but have never taken the time. I like creating things as you all know in decoupage! Being absorbed by a hobby for me really lifts my spirits. Working on a project and seeing it through to completion is really exciting for me. 

Even writing my blog is a great way to help put things into perspective sometimes. 

Personally I have found any form of distraction helps.  When my pain is very bad watching a film or tv program helps. Even though it is only for an hour or so; if I can be pain free just for an hour it’s really helpful. 

Listening to your favourite music, talking to friends or family, looking at photos and reading a gripping novel are all ways to distract the mind.

I am lucky that I am able to work part time. I’ve found it helps me to some extent, as a distraction from pain. My job involves helping others and I find this is rewarding because it gives me a sense of purpose. I think if I did not work I would do some form of voluntary work, which involved helping others. 

Voluntary work is definitely worth considering if you are looking for a new challenge and it can be very rewarding. It benefits both the worker and employer and lots of various roles exist. If you are disabled or housebound don’t rule it out because many roles exist for homeworkers.

A number of organisations can help you to find volunteer roles in the UK.  The organisation Do-it offers lots of opportunities to volunteer, in areas nearby or from home.

What might you want to do?

What’s your inspiration?…….

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New Year resolutions…have you tried walking yet?

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Walking is one you should really consider; it can help you loose weight and get exercise.  It’s possible for most people to take up walking and it’s easy to start…..

Now that Winter is here I’ve got my warmer items ready for the colder months. Being a fibromyalgia sufferer I notice any temperature drop as the weather changes, straight away. 

My joints feel stiff, I get more pain and all my symptoms get progressively worse. I still try to keep active if I can everyday by walking. I wear layers and thermals to keep warm.  

I started walking regularly before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I’d been suffering with lower back pain and sciatica, which got progressively worse.  I was unable to work. My doctor said I need to go to physio first; to get the muscles and joints moving and when I’m mobile to start walking regularly.

At the time I thought it was really unhelpful advice as I could barely move, let alone walk anywhere!  But after a few painful physio sessions. I started with short bursts at first of 5 to 10 minutes, progressing to longer walks.  Now I do a regular walk every day and have not suffered from back pain so much; I also have more energy to do things.

I look forward to my walk everyday, sometimes twice a day if I’m not too tired later on. I like walking especially on a fine sunny day; it can really lift your mood.  I live near a park and I can vary my daily walks through wooded areas and quiet residential streets. I usually spend about 25-45 minutes on each walk and vary the terrain. On really cold or wet days when my symptoms are worse, I go for a walk at a local covered shopping centre, which means I still get exercise but I’m not exposed to the elements as much as outside. 

I bought a new pair of waterproof walking boots recently; which are great to wear in rain and snow. I bought mine from a outdoor clothing and footwear shop in the sale. I’ve also invested in a waterproof jacket,  woolly hat, thermal gloves and socks. I find it difficult keeping my hands and feet warm, when it is really cold. Research shows we loose most heat from our hands and feet; so it makes sense to keep these areas as warm as possible.

If you plan to begin walking and have not exercised recently it would be advisable to consult your doctor or health professional beforehand.

If your joints are very stiff it might help to try gentle exercise at your local heated swimming pool first. Exercising in water supports the body and would free up joints. If you are a wheelchair user some pools have special equipment to access the water easily.

When you feel ready to start put on some comfortable shoes and suitable waterproof clothing for the weather.  Start off with short bursts of 5 to 10 minutes and gradually build up from this.  You will find you get more confidence and can do longer distances.

Throughout the UK free regular guided walks are provided by  Walking for health  which is funded by the UK People’s Postcode Lottery and Macmillan.  They offer different short walks for beginners which are for 20-30 minutes long. The route you walk over is easy terrain as they are specifically designed for people who are not very active. Some walks are suitable for wheelchair users and people with buggies. 

If you are a wheelchair user the UK website Walks with wheelchairs is dedicated to routes for wheelchair users.  All walks have been tested by wheelchair users.

The NHS Walking for health  site gives helpful advice for anyone wanting to start walking. 

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and have started exercise recently, it would be really helpful to hear about your experience.

So, you think you know all about fibromyalgia?

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There’s always one clever friend who starts a conversation with…

‘You know, I think I had fibromyalgia years ago.  I was sick for months with pain as a child……but now I’m fine’.  

I get exasperated when I hear someone say something like this; I want to say to them,

‘Noooooooo,  You cannot be serious’,

in my best impression of John McEnroe!  

But I just remain calm and agree with them 

‘O, yes you are probably right’, 

thinking to myself, why did I agree when I know there completely wrong? I now realise they’re not as clever as they think they are!

Fibromyalgia is an illness with NO CURE, it’s not possible that you had it ‘years ago and are now cured’.  

The best doctors in the world have not found a cure for fibromyalgia yet. Look it up on google as, ‘fibromyalgia cure’, it will say there’s no cure.

For anyone who is confused and does not know anything about fibromyalgia, I will run through the main symptoms.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

 

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional.

Going back to the fact there’s no cure.

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 14 years and found some times are really tough. I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise and meditation.

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

If you would like to read more about how I achieved this have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help or contact me via the link below.