Painful points spread across the body such as on the neck, shoulders, back or hips – this is the most common sign of a musculoskeletal condition known as Fibromyalgia. While the cause of this mysterious problem is not fully known, researchers suspect that environmental and genetic factors may contribute to this issue. Fibromyalgia is not known to be life-threatening. However, if left untreated it can severely affect your quality of life. The constant pain can be very annoying as well as distracting. Most importantly, the pain may prevent you from sleeping properly.
Sleep and Fibromyalgia
One of the most common complaints of people suffering from Fibromyalgia is that they find it very difficult getting adequate sleep, especially at night. This means that they wake up feeling tired and irritable. Combined with the constant pain, this can severely disturb your ability to lead a normal and functional life.
The danger of lack of sleep
It may seem that the constant pain is a more important problem than feeling a bit tired in the morning. Actually, the connection between Fibromyalgia and lack of adequate sleep is deeper than it seems. Research shows that people with reduced sleep tend to become more sensitive to pain, thus worsening the impact of Fibromyalgia in their life. Researchers in Norway have discovered that people (especially women) who do not get adequate sleep at night are at greater risk of suffering from Fibromyalgia. Lack of sleep and Fibromyalgia work together to reinforce each other – it is time to break through the vicious cycle!
Tips for better sleep
1. Don’t force yourself to sleep: Since managing pain is important, try not to go to bed if you are in pain. You simply won’t get any sleep if you are in pain. Schedule your medication so that you can get the required 8 hours rest. Avoid intensive physical activities at night as they can worsen pain. You may also opt for a hot shower before going to bed.
2. Stay away from stimulants: Steer clear of stimulant substances like tea or coffee before going to bed. The natural compounds in tea or coffee force the body to stay awake even if it is time for bed. It is better to drink herbal tea in the evening if you have any trouble sleeping. While drinking alcohol makes you sleepy, it will leave you wide awake halfway through the night, thus completely disrupting your sleep cycle.
3. Reduce stress: Avoid stress-inducing activities like watching the news before going to bed. Do something relaxing within the two hours before bedtime. Read a good book or listen to relaxing music. Work on a hobby which you find relaxing.
4. Get physical activity: Try to be active during the day as much as possible. This helps to establish your sleep cycle. Moreover, the exercise helps to strengthen your muscles and joints. Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress, which in turn helps in sleep. Activities like swimming and light aerobics can be done even by people with Fibromyalgia.
5. Don’t work in your bedroom: This helps to associate the bed with nothing but sleep. Avoid watching TV or browsing the web while in bed. Among psychiatrists, it is common knowledge that doing no activity other than sleeping in the bedroom trains your body to respect the bedtime.
By Dr. Shabtab Khalid
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