Friday, August 2, 2013

Fibromyalgia And The Elusive "Sleep"

Fibromyalgia and sleep... do the two words even belong in the same sentence? Does anyone with fibromyalgia actually sleep? Sometimes even when sleep has been achieved, we wake up in the morning feeling like we've been hit by a Mack truck.

Here are a few of the issues that other people and myself with fibromyalgia must deal with when we are trying to relax and fall asleep:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pain from fibromyalgia
  • RLS or restless leg syndrome
  • Insomnia

Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS is a problem in itself, but when it's combined with fibromyalgia it can be quite intense. RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one's body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, and even limbs. Moving the affected body part eases the sensations and provides relief for a short time.

I have suffered with Restless Legs Syndrome for a long time, this was probably one of my first symptoms. Again, I asked the doctor about it and he told me to drink Quinine Water before going to bed and that would relieve the pain and crawling sensations. I drank a lot of quinine water, but it never helped. I learned that quinine water is used to relieve cramps. Restless Legs Syndrome is not cramps, it is an aching, crawling, tickling, hard to describe sensation that is prompted by relaxation. I would experience these sensations in the evening about 20 minutes after I would sit down in my recliner to relax and watch a show and then usually take the sensations to bed with me. The only way to make the sensations temporarily cease would be to get up and walk around. That was my routine all through the night, lay down, get up, walk around, lay down, get up, walk around. Restless Legs Syndrome deprived me of sleep as much as the pain from fibromyalgia.

I have experimented with many different techniques to achieve a good night's sleep. It has become a quest for me in some ways. These are some of the strategies that I use to assist me in relaxing and falling asleep. Start this regimen about two hours before you want to fall asleep.

  • No Caffeine: Caffeine manages to stay in the body and causes disruption of relaxation.
  • Try not to eat a big meal at night and no foods high in sugar or salt.
  • Take a warm, lingering bath with minerals scented with a relaxing fragrance.
  • Drink an herbal tea that is made with chamomile.
  • I take an over-the-counter natural sleep aid with Melatonin.
  • Staying on a schedule is very helpful, also. Going to bed about the same time every night and getting up at the same time in the morning regulates the body.
  • Keeping the bedroom temperature cooler is.
  • I added a 4" memory foam pad on top of our mattress to buffer the pain zones of my body.

These techniques are not 100% guaranteed to work every night, but I find if I allow my body to relax as much as possible before I go to bed, than I have a much better chance of falling asleep quicker and staying asleep. The quality of sleep that I achieve at night determines the quality of life that I will experience the next day... it's all relative.

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