Sleep problems are one of the most common complaints among people with fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. With both conditions, poor sleep is a major source of intensified symptoms. Patients may spend a night in bed, but wake up as tired as when they went to bed. Other sleep problems are common as
well, such as difficulty getting to sleep, waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning, and over sleeping.
Importance of Sleep
- Repairs damaged tissue
- Critical for producing growth hormone as well as increasing muscle and decreasing fat.
- Important for immune function
Often patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia have initially experienced a intense stressful situation, an injury (even mild), toxic exposure, pregnancy, or an antibiotic-sensitive infection. From there the condition worsened until you felt an all-over-like flu explosion. To make matter worse, it was as though your body had a complete nervous breakdown, and blew a fuse. Fast forward, issues with nervous disorders and increased pain began to penetrate throughout the body.
These energy crises may be seen in the root of brain activity, or the control center, named the hypothalamus. It is as though, when this condition is in full peak, the hypothalamus goes into hibernation. Many doctors feel that hypothalamic suppression can be found in the mitochondria, or the energy furnaces in the cells. They begin to produce less energy leaving us feeling fatigued when our fuse is blown.
What does the Hypothalamus Do?
- Major sleep control center
- Controls the body's entire hormonal system through the pituitary gland.
- Temperature regulation
- Autonomic nervous system regulation (blood pressure, pulse, sweating, and bowel function.
Hence you can see why so many antidepressants are prescribed, including Elavil (amitriptyline) and Pamelor (nortriptyline), that work by raising the levels of chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Others such as Cymbalta (duloxetine), Savella (milnacipran), and Effexor (venlafaxine). Cymbalta and Savella are specifically
FDA-approved to treat fibromyalgia by increasing serotonin in the brain. Also, Lyrica (pregabalin) is an FDA-approved drug treatment for fibromyalgia that targets nerve signals. The medicine has long been used to relieve nerve pain in patients with shingles and diabetic neuropathy. It is also used to treat partial seizures as is Klonopin. All of these may have possible roots in "jump starting" the hypothalamus again by regulating brain signals. It is believed that with proper sleep, diet, reduced infections, hormonal support, and exercise it can be treatable.
Getting Sleep Back
- Train your bladder. How many times to do you wake at night with a full bladder? Normal people have full bladders that relieve themselves when they wake in the morning. Fibromyalgia patients often wake frequently running to the bathroom all odd hours of the night. Begin to talk to your bladder each night before you go to sleep. Say, "Nighttime is for sleeping. We will go to the bathroom in the morning when we wake up." When you do get it up in the middle of the night try the same commentary and try to roll over and go back to sleep. If you are unable, after five minutes, do get up and relieve yourself. By doing this each night you will begin to train your system into normalcy again.
- Keep you favorite natural sleep remedy by your bed. Is it Sleepy Time Tea, Chamomile Tea, or Valerian Drops? Begin to sip your tea or take your drops when feeling anxiety ridden before lying down to sleep. Use them when you awaken in the middle of the night too.
- Retrain your brain each day realizing you can never get it all done. It doesn't matter how fast you go. In fact, you may notice, the faster you go the more things you can do filling your plate endlessly. Slow down, you are agitating your brain into sleepless nights. You'll soon find there are fewer things to do on your to-do-list. Some things may even drift away as you realize you really didn't want to do them anyway. Remember, fibro patients have over active brains normally and that needed intensity we feel at the moment may dissipate as hours go by.
- Do what makes you feel good and ditch the rest. Make new lists of things. One list should be the things that feel good. Yes, there are things you do for others that actually make you feel good. These things may include cooking for your family, and ensuring their health is up to par. The second list should be for things you think you should do but make you feel terrible. These things may be meetings and extracurricular activities that you don't really like, but think you should do. These are things you need to stop right now. They are not helping your condition and making your sleepless nights heighten. You are in need of retraining your brain!
- Consume little or no alcohol before bedtime
- No caffeine after 4 p.m.
- No chocolate after 4 p.m.
- Do not use your bed for problem solving.
- Take a hot bath, with the Fibro Soak.
- Keep your room comfortable.
When your mind begins to race and think; yes, when those overactive nerves are going into overdrive, calm your thoughts and tell your brain, "This is not the time. It is time to sleep." Sip on your tea, take your drops, or medications, and think of wonderful thoughts that make you feel happy. Make this a priority and you'll feel improvements!