Sleeping Tips

Good sleep is the foundation of good health and often in fibromyalgia and other
persistent or chronic pain conditions it can be really poor.

Poor sleep adds insult to the already fatigued body and can increase levels of
inflammation.

Pain, discomfort, anxiety or night panic, restless legs, brain ‘whizz’, light or noise sensitivity and your body’s inability to relax due to the overwhelm will affect sleep.

You have probably tried many things to help your sleep but these are some strategies we recommend.

  • A Bedtime routine may help. So even if you are not sleepy going through the same bedtime routine each night will help prepare your body and brain for sleep.
  • Off loading your thoughts before you go to bed is a really useful exercise. You may want to do this an hour or so before you go to bed so that the thoughts are not rushing through your head at bed time. This ‘brain dumping’ type of journaling can just be a list of what you need to do tomorrow, what things you were really grateful for today, or just all the random thoughts that are going around your head at the time. Just clear your head to prepare it for sleep.
  • With the brain/fibro fog that often affects the thinking capacity of people with persistent pain, worrying about the tasks you need to do the next day can take up more brain power so keeping a notebook and pen a nearby is always handy.
  • If you wake up and have thoughts rushing just jot them down rather than spend hours with them keeping you awake.
  • Preparing your room for sleep can help. Our bodies find it much easier to fall asleep if the room is slightly cooler between 16-18°C (60-65 °F).
  • Light may be a problem for you and even the tiniest LED light may cause disturbance so turning them off completely or putting tape over any small electrical lights is recommended as well as effective black out at the window.
  • Sometimes curtains with black out still let in a lot of light so a piece of blackout fabric pinned to the window frame or suction blackout blinds that attach to the glass are more effective.

Just remember that your body and brain are feeling overwhelmed so anything that will reduce the stimulation will help.

  • Noise can also be very disturbing so you may benefit from ear plugs but if you have tried these and find them uncomfortable then the distraction of ‘white noise’ may help.. There are numerous free apps with different types of white noise. An easy one to use is White Noise generator by Relaxio. You can choose from a variety of sounds from rain to a fan and alter the volume to set it to play for as long as you require (up to 8 hours)

At this point it might be a good time to mention electronic devices such as tablets and phones. Whilst it is best to not use them at bedtime or during the night they can have some really helpful technology on them to assist your ability to get to sleep so just a couple of factors to consider.

  • Installing an app that reduces the blue light emitted from your device will help it be less stimulating.
  • Reducing the screen brightness right down also creates less visual stimulation.
  • You can enable the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. This means you can set your phone to not make any notification noises between the hours you select, except from people you chose for instance your parents or children. You can then rest easy.
  • It may be best to not use your device as your clock. It certainly is convenient, but there is a temptation to just check your messages if you wake up and want to know the time.
  • It is recommended to avoid all social media before bed and during the night, even if you have been awake for ages as it can be very triggering.

Where devices are useful is for bed time stories…yes bed time stories!

  • On YouTube (free) and via apps such as CALM (some free, some paid) there are bed time stories for adults. You can fall asleep whilst someone reads to you. You may never hear the end of the story but that is perfect. You do need to search through for a voice that feels calming to you. One of our favourites is Blue Gold read by Stephen Fry (https://youtu.be/5mGifCwig8I )

When going off to sleep is troublesome or going back to sleep is difficult there are some really good sleep meditations specially designed to calm your body and nervous system and help you go into a deep sleep. There are some links included here which are effective but find something that suits you.
The EnTrance sleep meditations are good and allow you just to drift off when they finish.

Flat headphones, in a headband, are also useful so that you can lie on your side and not irritate your ears.

Other things you can do to prepare yourself for sleep include breathing techniques, a very gentle and simple Tai Chi or Qigong routine or an EFT tapping routine.

There are pages in this toolkit for all these techniques with specific references for sleep.

30 minute deep sleep

30 minute deep sleep

50 Minute mediation to beat insmonia