A good night’s sleep is as important to your health as eating right and exercising regularly. That’s especially true when you have fibromyalgia. Getting enough quality sleep can ease the pain of this arthritis-related condition and help you feel refreshed.
Fibromyalgia can change your brain wave patterns, which can rob you of slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep. It can also bring on other problems, such as restless legs syndrome, which can make sleeping through the night a challenge. When you don’t sleep well, fibromyalgia can feel even more uncomfortable.
Don’t let fibromyalgia steal your sleep. There are strategies you can try to help yourself get the rest you need to feel your best:
- Be as active as possible. Exercising during the day is one of the best ways to help you get a good night’s sleep. It is also one of the best things you can do to treat fibromyalgia. Start with walking. Gradually and over time, try going farther and faster. Avoid working out within three hours of bedtime, though, so you have enough time to wind down.
- Darken your bedroom. Light can keep your brain awake, making it harder to sleep. If street lamps, moonlight or early morning sun peaks in through your windows, invest in room-darkening bedroom shades. If you get up during the night to use the bathroom, use a nightlight to show the way rather than turning on a bright overhead light.
- Go to bed at the same time every day. Try to get up each morning at the same time too, even on weekends and when you’re traveling.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. It can keep you from sleeping soundly. As for alcohol, you may be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and still sleep well, but skip the nightcap. Alcohol around bedtime can make you drowsy, but cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Nix long naps. For some people, a short midafternoon nap can improve their day, but for others, it’s the recipe for lost sleep at night. If you’re among those who doze off during the day, don’t nap for long. To prevent your nap from affecting your sleep at night, set your alarm for an hour, and get up when it goes off.
- Reserve your bed only for sleeping. Watching TV or working on your laptop in bed can make it tough to fall sleep.
- Talk with your doctor. If you are having trouble sleeping despite all efforts, ask your doctor about participating in a sleep study. It can help identify any other disorders you have that may be disrupting your sleep. It’s thought, for example, that people with fibromyalgia may experience the same breathing pauses during sleep that affect people with sleep apnea. If this is the case for you, a CPAP machine (which increases air pressure in the throat to hold it open during sleep) may be helpful. Your doctor can also prescribe sleep medicine, if necessary.
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