10 Tips for Sleeping Well With Fibromyalgiaby Ginger Vieira Health Writer & Patient Advocate
Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical part of managing daily pain and preventing flare-ups with fibromyalgia. But all that pain can also make it harder to fall asleep, and let’s not forget about fibro’s sinister symptom of insomnia.
You shouldn’t have to suffer with the consequences of little to no sleep. Here are 10 tips for getting the snooze-time you absolutely need.
Avoid stimulants & alcohol late in the day
Coffee, tea, chocolate, and many sodas contain caffeine, which is the last thing you need late in the day if you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. You might consider reducing how much coffee you’re drinking even in the first part of the day, too. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant, but it can easily interfere with sleep. You might fall asleep more easily, but you probably won’t feel well-rested in the morning.
Sleep in a dark, quiet room
Make sure your bedroom is a dark and comfortable place you look forward to seeking refuge in for the night. Sleeping in a cooler room has shown to help achieve a deeper sleep with plenty of warmth from blankets. White noise machines can help clear out subtle sound distractions. For some people, listening to soothing music or an audiobook can help induce sleep.
Take a bath or shower before bed
With fibromyalgia, we’re definitely more sensitive to cold temperatures. In the winter, it can be especially helpful to take a hot bath or shower right before bed so your muscles are relaxed and comfortable. In contrast, in the summer heat, a cooler bath or shower might actually help you feel more comfortable. The goal is to soothe and relax your sore muscles. Sometimes tucking an ice pack (or a hot pack) between your neck and the pillow can help as well.
Try a little massage
If you live with a spouse or partner, ask him or her to give you a gentle massage before bed to help relax your painful muscles. You can also try a small, portable back-massager that you place on your own couch or recliner. (I have one and it’s been a lifesaver when my back muscles start spasming.) If all else fails, place a tennis ball under the tightest spot on your back while lying on the floor for a DIY myofascial muscle release.
Try some light stretching or vinyasas
Light stretching or even a short and gentle vinyasa yoga routine can help relax those tense muscles, especially if you focus on taking deep, long breaths. For insomnia, lying in bed wide awake for two hours despite feeling completely exhausted is cruel and frustrating. Working gently through a few minutes of sun salutations can help ease the frustration and give your mind a reprieve from the overall stress of insomnia.
Create a relaxing music playlist
Create a playlist of songs that give you the most pleasantly peaceful feeling. Combine your favorite sleepy tunes with a white noise machine, a dark, cool room, and a thick flannel comforter, and you just might have all the ingredients you need to make falling asleep with fibromyalgia as delightful as possible.
Don’t refuse sleep medications
Night after night of insomnia is a recipe for a major flare-up. While taking sleep medications every night isn’t ideal, having a medication when everything else isn’t working is critical. Whether it’s a prescription or an over-the-counter drug, there’s nothing wrong with taking a medication when sleep just won’t come.
Pick up a good book
Even if you aren’t a regular bedtime reader, there’s nothing like trying to read small print in a poorly lit room to help your eyes feel heavy and tired. And the distraction of the story will help take your mind off pain or insomnia. However, a riveting read can keep you up for hours, so perhaps pick a book that is horribly boring instead!
Give up on sleeping and get out of bed
Sometimes, honestly, the best thing to do for the worst cases of insomnia or pain is to stop stirring in bed getting more and more frustrated. Get up and do something productive. Maybe that means giving your refrigerator a 20-minute clean up, vacuuming, or finishing a presentation for work. The goal is to let go of the desperate desire to sleep, distract yourself, and get back into be in 30 minutes or so.
Take time off work when you need it
Chances are, you’ll fall asleep eventually. But falling asleep at 3 a.m. doesn’t change the fact that you have to get out of bed at 6 a.m. to get to work on time. Functioning on three hours of sleep is almost worse than getting no sleep at all. If you’re really in an insomnia rut or pain flare-up, take a sick day and sleep when your body will finally let you.