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Sleeping Beauty – Fibromyalgia Fatigue

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No, I didn’t prick my finger on a spinning wheel like Sleeping Beauty, nor like Rip Van Winkle did I sleep for 20 years. However, a few weeks ago, I did sleep 32 out of 36 hours. I missed Wednesday and Thursday, most of Saturday and half of Sunday because I was sleeping. Had I allowed my eyes to close even once more, I know I would have been out again.

I was exhausted –
physically and emotionally.

Fibromyalgia fatigue is unlike normal fatigue. It isn’t the tired you feel when you are young and party the night away. It isn’t the exhaustion you feel when you are a parent of a young child who refuses to sleep.

The persistent and chronic exhaustion that
comes with fibromyalgia can be debilitating.

I am fortunate that with the right supplements, medications and integrative therapies, I manage my fibromyalgia. I still have pain, but most days it is low. However, the overwhelming tiredness will not go away. I hit a wall each day about 2:30 p.m., and in order for me to get through the day and stay awake until 9 p.m., I must have my after-work nap. Without it, I simply cannot function.
Sleep Study

One of the first things I ask fibromites is if they have had a sleep study. It is important to know if other issues, such as sleep apnea, are affecting our quality of sleep. I had a sleep study done, which discovered that I have Sleep Maintenance Insomnia. I quickly fall asleep but I never reach deep restorative sleep because I wake up in the middle of the night and then I’m not able to go back to sleep. Now I take a medication that helps me sleep through the night, but unfortunately, I still do not feel rested when I awake in the morning. 
Every day, it is a struggle to prepare myself both mentally and physically to get out of bed in the morning and then to get ready for bed in the evening. I began giving in to the fatigue. I would go straight home every day after work and take a nap. Family health scares and stressors kept me from sticking to my “normal” bed routine. In November, I stopped taking my supplements due to financial reasons.

So, how does fatigue affect our daily lives? 

  • Makes it difficult to concentrate, creates “fibro fog”
  • Decreases our motivation and our desire to do anything
  • To-do lists take much longer to accomplish
  • Feel winded and exhausted after a short amount of activity
  • Creates a feeling of weakness or heaviness 

How can we manage our fatigue? 

  • Get up at the same time each day

  • Pace yourself during activities

  • Try to balance between activity and rest periods

  • Avoid over-exertion, which can increase symptoms and bring on a flare

  • Limit daytime napping

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco

  • Supplements

    • D-Ribose

    • Coenzyme Q10 Ubiquinone

    • Magnesium and Malic Acid

    • Vitamin D

    • Melatonin

  • Prescription sleep medications

    • Check for Medication Side Effects: Drugs taken for other issues may affect sleep or create sleep-related problems.

  • Low-impact activities

    • Walking

    • Yoga

    • Swimming

  • Complementary and alternative therapies

    • Acupuncture

    • Massage

  • Sleep Hygiene

    • Prepare for sleep by gradually reducing your activity level in the several hours before bedtime

    • Use relaxation tapes/yoga/meditation

    • Create a good sleep environment and routine

    • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

    • Invest in a good mattress

    • Minimize light and noise

    • Keep the room at a cool temperature 

Fibromyalgia fatigue can lead to social isolation and depression. I began noticing the signs in myself. I started canceling plans I had made with friends. I slept more. I was so sad watching my friends go to concerts, art fairs and other activities when I couldn’t even get myself to sit outside on a nice day. I was just too tired.

My long sleep was my body telling me it was time to make a change!

Two weeks ago I started taking my D-Ribose, Vitamin D and Magnesium with Malic Acid. I noticed a slight difference right away. I started getting up during commercials and doing small chores around the house to increase my activity. I made myself work outside in the flowers each evening after my nap.
We all do it. It is easier to give in to the fatigue than it is to fight it. Baby steps. I am still tired, but it isn’t as bad as it was two weeks ago and today I am outside enjoying my flowers in the sunshine – and getting some good old fashioned Vitamin D!

Melissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author of Ravyn’s Doll:  How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child. Through her Facebook page, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 16,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. In addition to her own blog, Melissa has been published in “Living Well with Fibromyalgia” and the NFMCPA “Advocate Voice.” She’s a graduate of the 2014 Class of Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association and a member of the Leaders Against Pain Action Network.
You can find Melissa at:
Twitter: MelissaSwanso22

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