Getting a good night’s sleep is one of my biggest challenges day to day. Almost everyone living with FM (or CFS, chronic pain or another chronic illness) can relate to this struggle. There seem to be so many obstacles to getting a full night of restful sleep:
– changes in how the brain regulates sleep/wake cycles (researchers have found that Fibromyalgia patients have disordered deep sleep – intrusions of ‘alpha waves’ associated with light sleep during deep sleep ‘delta waves’)
-hormonal changes, such as reduced production of growth hormone, responsible for night time tissue repair
-increased environmental sensitivity, such as to light or sound
I usually need 10 to 11 hours of sleep to feel functional the next day. I did a sleep study that showed I wake up 14x per hour without realizing it, which is why I need to sleep so long. I need absolute dark and silence to stay asleep. There are lots of ways to reduce light, from blackout blinds to sleep masks. Noise, on other hand, is harder to control. Ear plugs are often uncomfortable or ineffective, as anyone with a snoring husband can attest to! Headphones or ear buds are even worse.
Enter sleepphones, which are comfortable headphones embedded in a fleecy headband. I tried them out this week and they are really comfy and allow you to sleep in any position. I use them in addition to an app called white noise lite by tmsoft. It offers different sounds, from pure static white noise to the sound of rain, the ocean, fans, airplanes, trains on tracks, crickets, chimes etc. You can mix them, put them on timers or create a playlist. I use silicone earplugs and listen to rain combined with white noise.
Another great option is to listen to sleep music. I like Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s sleep music, especially the ‘classical music for sleep’ and ‘peaceful music for sleep’. He also puts out CDs like ‘the delta sleep system’, but I find delta music sounds like aliens in outer space. All of these options are meant to influence your brain waves in the direction of slow wave delta sleep. These options are all safe, affordable, non-medical choices. I hope these tips help others out there get a better night’s sleep!