Reprinted with the kind permission of Sue Ingebretson and Rebuilding Wellness
Got fibro? If so, you need your sleep. But how? This elusive state plays cat and mouse with many in the chronic illness community. When it comes to self-care, better sleep quality should be top of the list. But getting it is a different story. Let’s dive into the part of the process that’s likely missing for you.
Why aren’t you getting the restorative sleep you need?
First, it’s important to understand what health risks sleep deprivation can cause. Are any of the following 18 risks a challenge for you?
Next, I’ll outline a process that may be missing in your health plan.
Fibromyalgia Self-Care Missing Pieces
Self-care is a vital part of healing and recovery from fibromyalgia and chronic illness. It sure was an eye-opening experience for me in my healing journey. I had no idea how poor my self-care practices were.
This month, we’ll take a look at 4 vital self-care topics. Not necessarily the ones needed most (although this one is), but ones that you’re likely not doing; self-care missing pieces.
Perhaps you’re simply unaware of them. If so, here’s a flashlight focus.
Sleep – A Must for Fibro
Lack of sleep can be disastrous for your health. Sleep patterns are a common topic among those who deal with chronic illness. But even in the general public, lack of sleep is a common complaint. One startling concern about sleep-deprivation is that a tired driver is often equally or more dangerous than a drunk driver.
Here are nearly two dozen health problems associated with or complicated by sleep deprivation:
- Inability to process complex thinking
- Overall cognitive dysfunction
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Compromised immune system
- Increased anxiety/irritability
- Increased risk of accidents
- Rapid aging
- Impaired judgment/decision making
- Depression/emotional issues
- Pain/poor ability to heal
- Increased worry/fear
- Hormonal imbalance
- Digestion dysfunction
- Adrenal fatigue
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired motor skills
Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t just happen.
It takes planning to make it happen.
This is the step most people miss.
Creating a sleep-hygiene program isn’t optional. It’s necessary. The habits and routines you create around preparing for bed can mean the difference between catching some restorative Zs and pacing the floors.
Sleep is difficult enough when challenged by chronic illness. So creating a sleep hygiene routine can help in many ways including lowering decision fatigue.
If you create a routine around your bedtime habits, you’ve made the decisions in advance. It’s a no-brainer. Don’t underestimate this crucial benefit. Decision fatigue is a considerable foe for the fibromyalgia and chronic illness community.
A good sleep hygiene routine may include —
- relaxation methods before bed,
- consistent bedtimes (and waking times),
- consistent room temperature (not too warm),
- comfortable sleep attire,
- and setting standard room darkness levels
Regular, consistent sleep is the result of regular, consistent self-care practices.
Your body restores as it sleeps.
It regenerates at the cellular level. The body’s systems are restored and revitalized when it achieves the deep sleep that it craves.
So – do you treat sleep as if it’s important? Do you plan for sleep each day by respecting a regular bedtime? Do you prioritize your life in such a way that you have a solid sleep routine before bed?
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For some, this could mean a warm bath, stretching, classical music, aromatic and therapeutic essential oils, reading something enjoyable (not suspenseful), etc. – anything that feels soothing.
Warning: watching TV is not a soothing, healthy bedtime ritual. Whether it is or isn’t a violent program, the mind engages in TV images (even the commercials!). The mind goes to work on problem-solving, such as how to get the stains out of your kid’s clothes or how to finance that luxury car of your dreams.
Are there lifestyle changes you could make to encourage better sleep?
When you consider your sleep hygiene routine, what’s missing? What’s missing most is likely the step of making it a priority. After that, things fall into place.
Be patient with your progress.
Stick with it.
Give it time.
Some planning now sets the stage for better results.
And, You Must Understand This About Sleep
I refer to sleep as a Result Symptom. The same for pain, fibrofog, and fatigue.
Rebalancing the tangle of fibromyalgia symptoms takes time. It takes patience and diligence. It also takes guidance to know where to focus your efforts.
As the process of healing evolves, symptoms diminish. One by one, they reduce and become less of a pain (literally).
Of all the symptoms, sleep, pain, fibrofog, and fatigue are often the last to go. They diminish as the body heals. Their resolution is a result of overall healing.
For more on this topic, check out, Why Pain, Fatigue, FibroFog, and Sleep are Results Symptoms.
Fibro Sleep Summary
You may have noticed that sleep is like a Catch-22 situation. We need sleep to heal, and as we heal, sleep improves. See the cycle? Therefore, no sleep now is a monkey-wrench in the healing process.
It’s a good thing that healing is a flexible process.
Make it a priority to put the routine for better sleep into place and the rest will follow. You’ll have some nights of better sleep than others. And, your best is good enough.
Every moment of restorative sleep adds up. It adds up to a body that has what it needs to function during the day.
So, keep up the routine, and see how healing becomes a reality for you, too.
Sue Ingebretson is the Natural Healing Editor for ProHealth.com as well as a frequent contributor to ProHealth’s Fibromyalgia site. She’s an Amazon best-selling author, speaker, and workshop leader. Additionally, Sue is an Integrative Nutrition & Health Coach, a Certified Nutritional Therapist, a Master NLP Practitioner, and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. You can find out more and contact Sue at www.RebuildingWellness.com.
Would you like to find out more about the effects of STRESS on your body? Download Sue’s free Is Stress Making You Sick? guide and discover your own Stress Profile by taking the surveys provided in this detailed 23-page report.