Article by Wendy McCance
For about three days now, I have struggled to get some sleep. Each night, I will go to bed exhausted, convinced I will fall right to sleep. Each night, within an hour or two, I’m right back up and out of bed frustrated with my predicament.
The first night I began to have an issue, I had gone to bed at 8pm. I could barely keep my eyes open and knew I just needed to get some sleep. I use my phone’s alarm function to wake me each morning. I went up to bed and once tucked in started to fall asleep immediately. Between 8:15pm and 9:20pm I received three phone calls. Each time that phone rang, it jolted me out of the beginnings of falling asleep. By 9:30pm I was wide awake again and had no luck getting back to sleep.
For the last couple of days I have gone through a bit of a fog. I have managed getting through each days responsibilities, but by the evening I get anxious about how well I might sleep.
When you have fibromyalgia, sleep is like winning the lottery when you hit on a restful night. Not getting enough sleep is a cruel side effect of fibromyalgia because it effects every other symptom you deal with.
Here’s the dilemma, if I don’t fall right to sleep, not only do I seem to lose the ability to fall asleep at all that night, but worse, my body stiffens up and I get muscle cramps and pain from laying so still. It’s bad enough when I wake up midway through the night because my body hurts, but if I can fall right to sleep, sometimes I can bypass being aware of this uncomfortable side effect.
The sleep issue is the most evil part of having fibromyalgia as far as I’m concerned. Without a good nights sleep, symptoms amplify and the pain is much worse. You need restorative sleep to keep all of the other symptoms manageable.
So this is my never-ending cycle. I stress to get enough sleep each night. I become panicked when I lose the rhythm of my sleep cycle and then it can take weeks (no joke) to get it back.
In the meantime, I can fall asleep when my body can’t take it anymore, but I will wake within a couple of hours feeling lousy, but wide awake. I lose that feeling of being able to stay sleep and I am up out of bed, again.
The trick to living a satisfying life with fibromyalgia is all in understanding your body and managing your symptoms. It’s about eating well, staying active without overdoing the activity (another tricky thing to learn) and getting solid sleep.
There is no choice, you can’t run your life in a reckless manner. It can be exhausting to stay so aware of how best to take care of yourself. Each day I make sure I get the proper amount of sleep, I can’t spend too much time standing or sitting (movement keeps muscles from stiffening up) and I can’t overdo the junk like caffeine or sugar. Without the right combination of management, my symptoms flare up. getting back on track takes weeks and is miserable.
If you have an autoimmune disease, what do you struggle with the most?