(see also the page "RLS Medications")
People with Autoimmune Disease and/or Fibromyalgia notice that when they lie down at night to go to sleep, if they don't concentrate on relaxing each muscle group individually, their muscles are as taut as guitar strings. Sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night, their bodies so tense that they might as well be trying to levitate. Even the face muscles are tensed.
Nonrestorative sleep occurs in over 80 percent of people with Autoimmune Disease or Fibromyalgia. Sleep disturbance is one of the most perplexing problems and may be responsible for fatigue, headache, memory and concentration problems and much more. Dysfunctional sleep patterns may contribute to muscle atrophy and pain.
Improve your sleep to decrease your pain. Don't kid yourself. Five or even six hours of sleep each night aren't enough. So, if insufficient sleep is a problem for you, as it is for so many with these illnesses, face up to it. You may need medication, an alternative remedy, or another form of treatment to solve this no- or low-sleep problem that you're going through.
Most people with Autoimmune Disease and/or Fibromyalgia who experience sleep problems get little, if any, delta sleep. Sleep studies done on these people have shown that in 90% of cases, alpha waves intrude as soon as delta sleep is reached. This is known as the alpha-delta sleep anomaly. This explains why many are such light sleepers, and why they become fully alert if anyone comes into the room or speaks to them while they are sleeping. Someone flushes a toilet and you wake up. You hear a bird chirp or an animal and the sound acts as an untimely wake-up call. It almost seems like a leaf could fall off a tree and wake you up.
Less Sleep - More Pain. When people with Autoimmune Disease and/or Fibromyalgia sleep even less than they usually do, they hurt more. Sleep experts say that in experiments in which these people are purposely deprived of sleep, their pain is significantly greater.
Insomnia is a frightening and life-altering symptom. You feel trapped, knowing that you must get some sleep if you are to function at all the next day. But sleep often remains elusive. Chronic pain worsens sleep difficulties.
Nap during midmorning or midafternoon to generate greater alertness and productivity during the day. An afternoon nap may reduce fatigue and enable you to continue functioning longer.
Compulsive urination insomnia appears to be very common with some Autoimmune Diseases and Fibromyalgia. Most people urinate before they go to bed, and a small amount of urine is usually left in the bladder. Because these people have hypersensitive nerve-endings, they feel the bladder pressure, so they soon get up to urinate again. Whenever they wake, which can be often, they visit the bathroom. This can happen more than thirty times a night.
A couple of goldfish are worth investing in to help cure your insomnia. Place the bowl or tank beside your bed and watch the fish swimming around at night. This has a wonderfully hypnotic and soporific effect. Watch them closely for at least 10 minutes, and then turn off the light.
The great Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh, cured his insomnia with a "strong dose" of camphor oil on his pillow. This is said to relieve any nasal congestion and, after a time, will safely dull your senses and ease you to sleep. Try Vicks ointment just under the noise, or crush camphor mint leaves.
If you are on (or have been on) prednisone, your stomach could be irritated without you even being consciously aware of it. I found that out when as a last resort one night I took a Zantac - and then blessed sleep came.
Restless Leg Syndrome? Boy - does that run in our family, I've always had it, my father has it, my aunt had it and my grandmother had it. I dislike taking prescription drugs and found that melatonin and lithium orotate (this is NOT the prescription lithium which is lithium carbonate, but an over-the-counter item you can find and ) work very well - for me.
If you start yawning and need to rub your eyes, these are the early warning signs of approaching sleepiness. Go to bed and settle in your preferred going-to-sleep position. If you don't get right into bed, the reflex arousal will put you into an alert state again.
The reflex arousal occurs when you are sleepy, but your actions signal that you aren't going to sleep. Then, you start manufacturing biochemicals to overcome the sleepy feeling. It is a temporary feeling and it can be dangerous. The moment you relax the hypervigilant state that put you into arousal, you can fall asleep instantly. If you are doing something that requires you to be awake at this time, like driving, you are in trouble.
Avoid arousing situations before you go to bed. Avoid doing research, paying bills, eating late, or checking your email before retiring for bed. Also avoid TV programs that leave your heart racing or encourage feelings of horror, outrage, disgust (i.e. news, commercials).
Forget about tomorrow. You will cope with tomorrow even better if you don't try to deal with it the night before. Don't fight sleep if it comes early. If you start to yawn, get to bed. Sleep is often viewed as the enemy. Treat it as a friend, and it will come to visit you more often.
Absolutely you must sleep at least seven hours per night because studies clearly show that a lack of sleep aggravates the symptoms. You don't have to get to bed extremely early, but don't expect to stay up past midnight and then be bright and fresh at 6 am the next day - especially day after day.
For 2 hours prior to sleeping, restrict your activities to those that are relaxing. Those activities might include taking a bath or shower, reading, watching a video. Avoid anxiety-provoking activities.
Check how dark your room is. It could be that light is keeping you awake. Try to blacken out the room completely, or use a pink colored nightlight. Colored night lights can be very soothing. Or small electric lights with colored bulbs.
Before going to bed, stand by an open window, or on the patio and breathe in very deeply filling your lungs with fresh air. Hold your breath for ten seconds and then release it completely. Breathe in again very slowly, filling your lungs with as much air as they can take, and this time hold your breath for five seconds and exhale. Repeat this three times. Finally, breathe in and out very quickly ten times and get straight to bed.
You can use audio books and have a bedtime story read to you.
Place a delicious, relaxing fragrance beside your bed. Perhaps this would be a scented candle which you can burn, some mild incense, a favorite perfume, or even a vase of your favorite flowers. CLose your eyes and concentrate on the smell. If you use a candle, you might place it in a dish of water so that if it happens to fall or burn down it will be extinguished.
Keep an ice bag handy to your bed. If you can't sleep because you are too hot, take it and gently dab your face. Once your face feels cool and fresh, place it across your nose and inhale. Breathe in the cooled air. Dab your ankles, feet and wrists and neck also.
Manage nighttime pain with analgesics, heat, cold, relaxation exercises, or whatever techniques work best for you. If you routinely wake with pain at 2 am, take an analgesic before bedtime to see if it will help you sleep longer.
A New England tradition suggests a quarter of an apple nibbled slowly before midnight ensures sound sleep after midnight. The legendary Marlene Dietrich cured her insomnia by eating an onion and sardine sandwich before retiring. Whatever snack you choose, try to avoid foods with a very high sugar content. Sugar acts as a stimulant and you don't need stimulants when you're trying to get restful sleep.
Before going to bed take a drink of hot milk or cold milk, hot chocolate or cold chocolate milk.
Peppermint aids in inducing sleep. Peppermint tea just before bedtime might help.
Tagamet (cimetidine) and Zantac (ranitidine) are normally thought of as antiulcer medications. However, they block the absorption of the stimulating neurotransmitter histamine, and appear to improve level-four sleep.
Take a whole pint of ice-cold milk to bed with you. Make sure that it is very cold, taken straight from the refrigerator. Once you're in bed, sip it slowly, sitting upright. Try and drink the whole pint. Then lie back until you feel comfortable and relaxed.
For the very occasional insomnia that nothing else will cure, take some oatmeal mixed with very hot milk and make a thick porridge.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall asleep, eat some natural yogurt, and then wash it down with milk.
Midnight feast. If every mental cure for insomnia has failed, get up. Don't put on your robe or slippers. Go to the kitchen just as you are and cut yourself a thick slice of bread, preferably homemade, and chew each mouthful at least 20 times. When you finish, drink a glass of ice cold milk. This will make you feel very cool and your feet may be quite cold. Hurry back to your bed and fall asleep in comfort.
If you've been lying awake for 20 minutes, get up and go to a different part of the house. Read a book or watch a video until you feel tired.
Current research suggests that these nocturnal panic attacks are due to some neurological mechanism that is not understood at present. They are not dangerous. The uncomfortable feelings they generate are uncomfortable but they last only a little while.
When you experience a nocturnal panic attacak, get up and wash hour face so you become fully awake. Once you're fully awake, find something relaxing to do until you feel drowsy. Spend about 5 - 20 minutes with a distracting and relaxing activity that allows your body to settle down such as reading a book or having a cup of hot cocoa. Then go back to bed.
Don't be mad at yourself or not falling asleep or if you wake up frequently and don't blame anyone. Be philosophical; these things happen.
Prepare for episodes of nighttime pain so that you may deal with it easily and effectively. There are many things you have done in the past and can do again. Experiment until you find methods that work for different problems. Develop a list of strategies that work.
Analyze. As you lie awake, analyze WHY you are awake. Are you too hot or too cold? Is there enough air in the room? Is there a noise that's disturbing you? Is your pillow lumpy? Are the blankets too light or too heavy? Decide precisely what is keeping you awake and then do something about it if you can, or silently laugh about it if you can't.
Counting and breathing. Lie back on your bed. Breathe in very deeply for a count of one. Hold it for a count of one. Breathe out for a count of one. Now breathe in very deeply and count one, two. Hold it, counting one, two. Release, counting one, two. Do this until you reach ten. If you have not dropped off by this time, repeat the exercise in reverse order from ten to one.