SLEEP SUNDAY – LETS TALK ABOUT SLEEP AND FIBROMYALGIA IN PARTICULAR…

Another week has flown by and its time for my Sleep Sunday – Let’s Talk About Sleep post here on my Back Pain Blog. 

I am a member of a group called MyFibroTeam which I have to admit I do not sit and read their articles on a regular basis. However, I have never deleted any of their emails so I decided to sit and read through all the links they had sent me. I came across this article on Fibromyalgia and Insomnia which I thought was perfect for this weeks post after my article yesterday on fibro flare-ups.

MyFibroTeam is the social network for those living with fibromyalgia. You get the emotional support you need from others like you and gain practical advice and insights on managing treatment or therapies for fibromyalgia. MyFibroTeam is the only social network where you can truly connect, make real friendships, and share daily ups and downs in a judgement-free place. It is certainly somewhere I will now be visiting on a regular basis. Some members have given their personal tips for a good nights sleep. 

According to MyFibroTeam members report that chronic lack of sleep exacerbates pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, including head and neck pain: Tenderness and sensitivity around the head, neck and ears, sparks lots of conversation on MyFibroTeam.

“I can’t put any pressure at the base of my skull so I have to sleep on very flat pillows,” reported one member. Others use “pillows that fit the curve of their necks,” or “three under the knees and feet.” One woman said her bed feels like “laying on bricks. “I sleep better in my recliner,” she added.

Some MyFibroTeam members report excessive sweating during sleep. “Every night, my T-shirts are drenched,” wrote one member. Another uses “towels on top of the sheets.” One member said her night sweats became “less frequent” after buying “cooling pillows and a weightless blanket.” This is definitely something I will cover in another post.

Sleep apnea: Members who snore loudly or feel tired the next day have gotten tested for sleep apnea, a condition which causes breathing to stop and start throughout the night. “I was waking up every three hours and getting just 20 minutes of a deep sleep,” shared one member. “After being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea, I now sleep eight hours a night. I feel great, have energy, and no pain, headache, or tiredness.” Your doctor can order a sleep study to diagnose the disorder.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Members also report having this sleep disorder, which involves involuntary leg movements. “Muscle relaxers really helped my excruciating spasms, back pain, and insomnia,” shared one man. Another member said: “Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) helps a little but the heating pad is really my best friend.”

After reading the above symptoms which so many Fibro sufferers have to deal with its no surprise that many of us have difficulty in sleeping. Of course, I am sure most of us would have tried over the counter prescriptions like Nytol/ Herbal Sleep Supplements or melatonin and prescription medications like Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline which seem to work for a while then wear off.

The latest trend for helping you sleep iMedical marijuana : Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD), used alone or in combination with other remedies (prescribed by their doctors), which MyFibroTeam says have helped many members manage fibro insomnia. “I’ve been using CBD oil for three months. The pain is much better and I’m finally sleeping at night,” said one woman. Others report that cannabis helps them fall asleep, but not stay asleep. “I chew one gummy and get about three hours of sleep, max,” explained another member.

I’d love to hear from any fibro sufferer if this really does help with their sleep. 

I am trying different pillow sprays at the moment and I am having great success with one in particular called Ease by Grass & Co which has orange, eucalyptus and ginger in it. I will write an article on the different pillow sprays next Sleep Sunday as I feel this could be the way forward for many of us without having to rely on medication to help us sleep.

 

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FIBROMYALGIA FLARE UPS – WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CAUSE OF THEM?…

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are quite common for Fibromyalgia sufferers but what is the biggest cause of them?

Well, apparently its The Weather – hip hip hooray now I know I’m not imagining it!

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms.  Extreme fatigue, aching joints, tender muscles and general weariness can interrupt your day and leave you worrying about your deteriorating condition. Luckily, worsening symptoms usually have a distinct cause, and with the right approach, they can be treated directly and effectively. Get to the bottom of intensifying fibro fatigue and discomfort before you try to treat it. Some flare-ups can last a few days to a few weeks and there are a number of causes for them.

For me, the change in weather has always had the biggest impact on my Fibro and not just when it turns colder.

Temperature makes a difference in how we feel with Fibro but it can also affect other musculoskeletal disorders. Colder weather seems to make symptoms worse whereas a climate where the temperature remains warmer seems to be less painful for Fibro sufferers.

A damp climate can also worsen symptoms, with a combination of cold and damp (from sleet and snow) which can be the most aggravating climate. So, avoid holidays in Alaska or the Midwest. Changes in the barometer can also trigger symptoms. Also if rain or snow is forecast this can trigger some symptoms to flare-up. They say a consistently warm, dry climate is probably best for Fibro sufferers.

According to Fibromyalgia-symptoms.org, there are five “major weather factors” that can affect our bodies. They are temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind. We may not be able to control what the weather does, but we can take some steps to try and head off a #fibro flare before it occurs when it is time for a seasonal change.

Brian Barr solicitors say that so far, researchers have been unable to determine why the changes in weather affect sufferers, however, there are some possible explanations. Firstly, changes in temperature can affect sleep patterns. Getting plenty of sleep is really important if you have #fibromyalgia, and even small shifts in your sleep pattern can aggravate the condition. Secondly, as the seasons change, the amount of light you are exposed to can throw off your circadian rhythm (body clock), making you feel low and more tired than usual. Lastly, there may be a connection between low temperatures and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which appear to be connected to pain intensity.

New Life Outlook Fibromyalgia points out that it is not uncommon to hear someone with arthritis claiming their knee or hip can predict the weather better than a meteorologist. They always know in advance when a cold front or a rainstorm are moving in, with almost scary accuracy. Many with one type of rheumatic condition or another, including #fibromyalgia, have made claims that the changes of weather will affect their pain levels, fatigue levels, or other various symptoms.

There is lots of help and advice online about Fibro Flare-Ups from Fibromyalgia New Life Outlook and UK Fibromyalgia.

Other factors that cause Fibromyalgia flare-ups include –

  1. Stress
  2. Sleep (or lack of)
  3. Overexertion
  4. Exercise or over-exertion
  5. Illness
  6. Diet – processed foods in particular
  7. Hormonal change
  8. Travel
  9. Medication changes

One thing I found helped me with a flare-up was by writing it in my diary when it happened and what I did to help with it and if it helped.

I also have a list of all the things I enjoy that take me away from my pain like one of my hobbies (making cards) and baking but maybe for you something like Tai Chi may help.

Just knowing something that works will help get through the flare-up.

Make a note in your diary of a particular treatment that helped or a medication or piece of equipment like a tens machine that helped.

Knowing that there is something you can do, use or otherwise for your flare-up, will get you through the worst days and back to controlling it as you normally do.