Fibromyalgia can affect your life in many ways, not least your sleep. Many sufferers experience difficulty getting to sleep in the first place, or find themselves waking frequently throughout the night. The instances of restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are also more common amongst fibromyalgia sufferers.
The good news is, there is much that can be done to help establish good sleep routines and promote a more restful night’s sleep:
1. Get the right amount of sleep
Sometimes you may have commitments that affect your routine, but wherever possible try to establish a regular time for going to bed and waking up. The amount of sleep that adults need varies from person to person. sleepfoundation.org state that is somewhere between 7-9 hours for 18 – 64 year olds and 7 – 8 hours for those who are 65+. Work out how many hours sleep work for you, and as tempting as it is to lie in, try to get up at a set time every day. This will help set your circadian rhythm (body clock), and help solidify your sleep. Staying in bed for too long can lead to fragmented and shallow sleep.
2. Have a relaxing bedtime routine
Finding ways to relax and unwind in the evening before going to bed can work wonders. Everyone’s idea of relaxing is different, perhaps a nice soak in the bath, some deep breathing exercises, reading a book or spending time doing a hobby that relaxes you.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
Both of these have been shown to contribute to poor sleep quality.
4. Have a light carbohydrate snack
Hunger may disturb you through the night, so having a light snack before bedtime could help. Obviously avoid foods that you know can trigger problems for you, but perhaps you could have a small portion of cheese and biscuits, a hearty bowl of porridge with soya milk or a banana.
5. Avoid long daytime naps
Tempting as it may be to snuggle up and have a nice long nap when you have the opportunity, this could interfere with your sleep during the night. So if you need to have a nap, then make sure not to sleep for too long as it may not help in the long term.
6. Get regular exercise
Exercising three times a week can benefit those with sleep difficulties. Pick the type of exercise that you feel you are able to do and will enjoy. A gentle walk, swimming or gardening are all great forms of light exercise. Just remember not to exercise in the three hours before bedtime as this could interfere with your sleep.
7. Block out any noise
It sounds simple but any noise coming from outside (or inside) your house could stop you from getting good quality sleep. Think about what you can do to reduce the noise levels, perhaps you sleep in the front room by a busy road and moving to the back room could help. If you have trains or planes that disturb your sleep, earplugs may help.
8. Keep a sleep diary
Write down how your sleep is over the course of a few weeks. You may start to see patterns and triggers that are affecting your sleep, which will then allow you to come up with strategies to deal with these things.
Of course, if sleep problems persist your doctor may be able to help. In fact, treatment for the chronic pain and depression associated with fibromyalgia can lead to an improvement in sleep problems. In some cases, sleep medication is prescribed to help sufferers get back into a good night time sleep routine.
Do you have sleep problems? Have you found certain things that have helped you get a more restful night’s sleep, if so we would love to hear from you. Please comment in the box below.
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