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Sleepless Beauty & the Beast

Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

The hands on the clock ticked away dutifully.

The seconds turned to minutes, and the minutes turned to hours. Yet, I was still there squeezing my eyes shut like it would trick my body into falling asleep.

Grrr… I’m exhausted and annoyed.

No sleep, and I have work in the morning.

It’s challenging enough having to cope with chronic pain, but always having problems falling asleep and staying asleep affects my mood, makes me more achy, and exacerbates my already debilitating exhaustion. Then, factor that into the cognitive problems – my poor memory will suffer a blow, and I’ll probably have air in my brains today.

It’s a vicious, ongoing cycle.

I’ve had insomnia (and chronic exhaustion) since childhood, and like all fibromyalgia patients, I have wondered which came first – was it the insomnia then the beast fibromyalgia? Or the fibromyalgia then insomnia? Not that it matters in the end but still, I wonder.

Photo by petitefox

Which Causes Which?

Not surprisingly, researchers had found that women with sleeping troubles are three times more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

But this doesn’t mean that sleep deprivation causes fibromyalgia – fibromyalgia is so complicated and researchers are still trying to figure it out.

Previous research had also found that a lack of snooze also reduces the body’s ability to deal with pain. So we know that sleeping difficulties is a huge contributing factor to fibromyalgia.

I’d give anything for a night of proper sleep, and the chance to wake up feeling refreshed. I’ve never, ever, not once in my life experienced that. 

Damn it.

So Called Solutions

Apart from my prescribed sleeping aids, I’ve also followed the advice that the rheumatologists, therapists and internet have offered.

Establishing a regular sleep pattern (is it even possible for us? I’ve tried anyway), avoiding caffeine before bed, avoiding day naps (by force as I have to work), a warm, relaxing shower/bath before bed… yet sleep continues to evade me.

A fellow fibromite had mentioned that a foam mattress had aided her, so I plan to try this.

I’m yet to get to the point of exercising regularly, which doctors insist will help me sleep. I don’t doubt it, I just find it difficult to adequately relate the stresses of exercising regularly with such debilitating exhaustion and pain. With much discomfort, I can exercise for 9 minutes with a break in between.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that when I work, my sleeping meds seem to be more effective, (though they don’t keep me asleep) and this is perhaps due to pushing my body through the fatigue.

My complex relationship with sleep is annoying, yes. It evades me but when I really need to stay awake the sandman decides to visit (damn you Sandman!). I end up bopping my head rhythmically everywhere in the most inopportune of times.

I have no more shame left where that is concerned.

Does anyone out there have a remedy that could actually help with sleep? I’m desperate enough to try anything (almost).

Gentle Hugs 🙂

potofcallaloo
Alisha Nurse is a curry-loving writer & comms professional who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Journalism (International) from the University of Westminster, London. Get in touch with any feedback or questions via the contact form in the 'About' section.

16 thoughts on “Sleepless Beauty & the Beast

  1. My dear Peach! I strongly believe that exercise will work. The research on the benefits of exercise are extensive so I am sure that you will have a restful night post exercise. Just to get a routine going. Check these ppl out.. http://www.bodyrock.tv/ It’s pretty intense but there are variations for beginners.. 12 mins of your time and it’s free.. Think I will start showering you with blessings for restful sleep.. *GentleHugs&Sunshine*

  2. I am just checking out this site, so far I like it. I am, as we speak, STILL awake after only 4 hours sleep the night before last. I feel your pain there and probably so many more invisible ailments. If ONLY our peeps knew what this is really all about. I’ve suffered with this for MANY years…I look forward to not feeling so alone in this…God Bless

    1. Hi Robin, really glad to hear that you like my blog. I can relate to feeling alone in this struggle. But I since I’ve been able to talk to other sufferers, I feel a little better even if family and friends don’t really understand. You are always welcomed to visit and let me know what’s on your mind, or what you’re going through/would like to discuss etc. Much love xx

      1. I appreciate the welcome. Yesterday as I was surfing for MORE info. found out about the BIG mood swings. Thats always been in my dna anyhow but right now is not the best time to “pardon my french as a Christian woman I should not use such words but I do!”) PISS ME OFF! It’s refreshing to not have to start out with the details sometimes and hopefully somehow get out of this funk I’ve ben in for way to long now. I’m just using this program for the first time and I have renamed my smart phone to smart ass phone! Then there is me. I touch it, I screwed it up! So your help to guide me as we go here. On my phone, much slower at typing, computer right beside me, you may not wanna get me started! On Aug 16, 2012 2:38 PM, “The Invisible F” wrote: > > potofcallaloo commented: “Hi Robin, really glad to hear that you like my blog. I can relate to feeling alone in this struggle. But I since I’ve been able to talk to other sufferers, I feel a little better even if family and friends don’t really understand. You are always welcomed ” >

        1. Hi Robin,

          I know what you mean. My mood swings so quickly, especially when I’m having bad pain days etc, and I struggle to keep it up with my levels of exhaustion. But I think it helps to just smile, regardless of how Im feeling. It’s amazing how smiling outwardly can affect how one feels inwardly. It also helps when I get back other smiles from people I smile with. don’t worry – you’ll be ok. One day at a time 🙂 have a great weekend love! xx

    1. Me too. Slept a few hours this morning, well yesterday morning by now. I can go up to four days before sleep comes. ANYTHING on my mind or left unsettled, forget it. Sleep will not come.

      On Aug 19, 2012 2:03 AM, “The Invisible F” wrote: > > Rachel-Ann D Charles (@RADC83) commented: “Thanks for providing an insight on your experiences Alish, this also made for a good read. May be you can try a glass of milk at nights… let me know if you do and what the results are.” >

    2. Thanks Rach!! I’ve heard of people drinking warm milk before bed—trouble is i don’t like milk on it’s own :S a little in my tea or in a milkshakes is the closest I’ve ever come! :S But thanks for the tip— let me know if you have any other ideas xx

  3. Hello! I just wanted to comment that I was diagnosed with FM at 17 and started exhibiting symptoms at the age of 11. The first visible symptoms were sleeplessness and depression so I can completely identify with your comments. The best solutions I have found to improve sleep quality (other than meds) is exercise and meditation. The commonality is deep breathing and stress relief. So even if you can’t exercise for a long period of time (which I totally understand!) you can still benefit from the breathing and stress reduction.

    Recently, I had to stop working (I had my job for 14 years) because my FM got so bad. I was dealing with the pain but my stamina was so low that I could not get myself to work every day. I knew it would happen some day.

    I wish you the best of luck and good health. (((gentle hugs)))

    1. HI Jrae, thanks so much for your comment – really appreciate your feedback.

      I definitely plan to give regular exercise another go, will try meditation sometime soon. I could really use some stress relief as well!

      I also had to give up on my dream of being a journalist because it’s just not feasible anymore with the pace of the job against my energy levels and pain. HAve you considered working in another field (if you need to work) where you might be able to cope better? I need to work so I had no choice really but to find such a job and plod on.

      Hope you’re having pain free days my dear. Gentle hugs to you too 🙂

      1. Yes, in fact I have considered a new field. I am planning to finish my education in English so that I can become a freelance editor. I’ll be able to work from home while my daughter is in school. We could all use some flexibility in our lives, and hopefully this will be a good solution.

        Have you thought about doing some writing in free newspapers? That could get your foot in the door with journalism. It makes me sad to hear about people giving up their dreams but sometimes, circumstances dictate that you must do other things to get by.

        I do hope that you find some stress relief, restful sleep and maybe someday you can follow your dream. 🙂

        1. Hey Jrae,

          Good to know that you are working on a plan 🙂 I hope this move provides you with the flexibility you need for your daughter and health.

          I’ve recently taken up an admin job that will also give me desired training and experience in pr. I have lots of journalism experience but the problem is it’s so competitive now in London, and post recession makes it even more difficult to get a journalism job. I wouldn’t mind freelancing though if that allowed me to keep a day job. Other wise, I have been working on another dream of becoming a published author. Thanks for all the best wishes, drop by again for another chat soon 🙂 xx

  4. I found taking melatonin helped me get into a regular sleep schedule in the past. I took it at the same time every night for several weeks, and then one night I just didn’t feel like taking it anymore. I was able to maintain my new schedule (early to bed, early to rise) for many months afterwards. I felt groggy in the mornings for the first week or two. Within 30 minutes of taking it, my eyelids would become heavy, and after another 30 minutes I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.
    I am currently giving melatonin another go and am taking one 3mg tablet. (In the past I used the kind that dissolves under the tongue.)

    As for exercise…. I used to take a dance class once or twice a week. Can’t afford it right now. I received a free one-month pass for unlimited hatha yoga classes, and went 4 times per week during that month. Once a week, I tried going on a 45-minute easy hike with my sister for a few months, and that increased my energy. I ride 2 miles 4 days a week for a month or two, and that decreased my energy. Recently I saw a rhuematologist, who told me, “Whatever you want to do for exercise, start off doing it in the water first.” She then referred me to an aquatic therapy program. For one month, I spent one hour in the pool 3 times per week doing stretches and endurance-building exercises. After every session, I fell asleep as soon as I got home – it totally wiped me out. I was glad when it was over. I am supposed to keep doing it at home in my pool until the weather cools down; then I can begin a walking program; and eventually I can do a bicycling program, which is what I want to do (to help with my knee problems). But I haven’t continued on my own. Yet. I really overdid it the month-and-a-half after finishing aquatic therapy by taking on a new job. That ended 2 weeks ago. Maybe when I have recuperated, I’ll get back to an exercise program. Maybe. I’m not a big fan of exercising.
    The only time I saw exercise help with my insomnia was the summer I had a pool and a hot tub. On the days I would alternate between the two (mostly floating in the pool and then warning up in the hot tub) and sit out in the sun for a few minutes, I had no problems falling asleep, and I woke up early the next morning with energy.

    1. HI Salina,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Found it very interesting reading about what worked fo you and what didn’t. My physiotherapist also recommended water exercises. Unfortunately I wont be able to join a gym so I can access a pool regularly any time soon. She also recommended biking which Id really really love to try.

      Did you stay asleep when you fell asleep with the Melatonin Salina? Amitriptyline and Duloxetine have helped me to fall asleep but trouble is staying asleep and getting deep sleep 🙁

      xx

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