hope my fellow americans are sound asleep right now, and everybody else, well, i still haven't figured out what schedule you guys are on, but i hope this finds you well!
it's about 3:30 AM right now, and i've been up and at 'em for a while now. this is the latest i've slept in quite a few days... strange, right? weirdly enough, i've actually gotten used to it and don't really mind it too much most days (insomnia is a really common part of fibromyalgia).
because of this new habit, though, i've been trying some new techniques to help me sleep, and thought i'd share a bit. so can we talk about sleep real quick?
i'm obviously no expert, or i'd still be sleeping right now! but i have tried a battery of different methods to deal with sleeplessness, and thought maybe my experiences would help you guys navigate your own potential issues (that i pray you don't ever have!).
ambien - i tried this drug when i first got diagnosed with fibro. it was a while ago, so i'm not sure how fair my evaluation is but i do remember it not working for me, and the little bit of sleep i did get made me terribly groggy when i took it. however, one of my good friends has used it for years and he swears by it, so i think it all depends on how your body chemistry reacts with it. i don't think i had any other side effects, so i'd say if you're desperate, it's worth a shot at least.
antidepressants - there is a strong connection between insomnia and decreased serotonin levels in the brain, which is also (not shockingly) a cause of depression. while i was on Prozac for a very short while in high school for depression, i recently was prescribed a different one (Lexapro?) to manage my sleep.
i know plenty of people who have amazing results with them for both depression and sleep issues, but my body does not like these kinds of drugs! i become paranoid like someone is "watching me," my heart races, and i sweat a lot... not good! i've always come off antidepressants quickfastandinahurry.
fibromyalgia prescriptions (Cymbalta, Lyrica, etc.) - fibro and nerve issues are characterized by a problem in the same part of your brain depression is, so many medicines prescribed for fibro are also prescribed as antidepressants. i know fibro doesn't apply to most of you (praise God!), but i just wanted to let you know my opinion on these medicines. i've met and heard from many people that thrive on them and feel like the meds have given them their lives back, and i'm very grateful for that! but for me, i would consider these meds a last resort: they are incredibly hard on your body. the process to adjust to them is severe, and the side effects can be crippling. i have never felt more like a zombie than when i was on these. just my thoughts!
melatonin - this is a natural supplement often used to promote healthy sleep patterns. it helps your "body clock" establish a sleep schedule. it took me a few weeks to realize that my problem wasn't my sleep patterns, but that i couldn't stay asleep. while melatonin did help me feel sleepy at the same time each night, i would still wake up after a few short hours. if staying asleep isn't your problem, just getting asleep in the first place, i would definitely recommend melatonin! i didn't experience any side effects, other than frustration :)
5-HTP - this is the supplement i'm currently taking. i just started taking it a few days ago, so the verdict is still out, but i have high hopes for this one. 5-HTP is the herbal version of tryptophan, which promotes raised serotonin levels in the brain (my problem in the first place!). i'll let you know how it goes!
SAMe - this is the next one i might consider trying. it is commonly used to help patients with chronic pain sleep through the night. a few nights i've realized it actually was the pain responsible for waking me up, so i feel it'd be worth a try possibly. SAMe is also a natural supplement, but it's a bit pricier than most supplements so i'm trying it last (college kid!).
tequila - haha i'm just kidding, i'm not getting that desperate!
i hope my experiences help shed some light on insomnia and the methods available to you, should you need it. we all go through times of struggling to sleep, and that's normal! when you do have that random, restless night, here are some things you should try:
- concentrating on relaxing breathing. take a deep, slow breath for a count of four, then slowly release it for a count of for. repeat ten times.
- don't allow your mind to run away with itself. nighttime is the time to shut off your mind. if you can't stop it from running, keep a notepad next to your bed and jot down all your thoughts before you sleep each night so you don't lay awake trying to remember something important.
- i know i sound like your mom, but establishing a routine is crucial. if you don't regularly go to bed around the same time, your body will constantly struggle to know when to sleep. please, please, please honor your body and its sleep patterns! we're big kids now - let's be responsible if at all possible.
- do something that deeply relaxes you before bed, as well as if you wake up in the middle of the night. meditate, pray, do some gentle yoga (one of my faves), stretch, or read a calming book (no stephen king!).
- don't turn on the light if you can help it, and use a small, soft glow to read by. your computer isn't a great bet because the screen can be stimulating to your brain. bright lights tell your brain it's morning, so this applies to going to pee, too!
- if all else fails and you're still awake 30 minutes later, get up! laying in bed will only stress you out and reinforce that sleepless pattern. do something quiet and non-stimulating until you feel sleepy.
- as much as possible, don't stress. yes, not sleeping sucks, but worrying about it pretty much guarantees you won't sleep, and that you'll feel like crap the next day. take one day at a time, and don't allow your mind to wander about how you'll function tomorrow. you can do this!
the best comfort i've had though my insomnia?
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (New International Version)
this has been my battle cry for the last year or so. what a gift to know that even when i am an absolute wreck (which is often!), God still provides the opportunity for me to be powerful! i am capable of living this life victoriously even though i will struggle so much - praise God!
have you tried any sleep remedies?
what are your tips for sleeping well?