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Studies show that poor sleep can result in poor cardiovascular health, particularly for women, and that circadian rhythm disruption could be an understudied risk factor in heart health.

One minute they are telling us that we need a full night’s sleep to function correctly and even that sleeping may help you to lose some weight! Now, researchers are careful to note however that oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

So, how much sleep should we have? Well, the amount of sleep varies significantly over the course of our lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits.

They say that sometimes circumstances mean we need more sleep, for instance during times of stress or illness. However, the typically recommended amount of sleep for adults should be between seven and nine hours each night.

When we’re sleeping, our brains are actively working to process the information from the day into our long-term and short-term memory. Good sleep not only helps our bodies and minds to rest and repair, but it also allows us to perform better too.

The Paper Gown writes about Beauty Sleep and says that the term “beauty sleep” typically describes an extra hour or two of sleep in the evening that helps you look and feel your best in the morning. However, it goes beyond that. Adequate rest is essential for physical and mental well-being. It helps manage stress, reduce inflammation in the body, improve concentration and focus at work or school, and even boost mood. 

With a global problem of insufficient sleep, there are serious public health implications to address. Studies paint a worrying picture; an estimated 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep disturbances or illnesses such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle? Pain makes it difficult to sleep, but sleep deprivation means the body cannot repair itself – making the pain worse. Healthline points out that people with chronic pain don’t necessarily see improvements in sleep once their pain is resolved.

In fact, the pain often only continues to worsen until sleep is addressed. This may be related to the fact that some people with chronic pain may battle anxiety which in turn may cause stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol to flood their systems. Over time, anxiety creates overstimulation of the nervous system, which makes it difficult to sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation points out that sixty-five per cent of those with no pain reported good or exceptionally good sleep quality, while only 45 per cent of those with acute pain and 37 per cent of those with chronic pain did the same. Additionally, 23 per cent of those with chronic pain reported higher stress levels, compared with 7 per cent of those without pain.

Those with acute or chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems impact their daily lives. Among people who’ve had sleep difficulties in the past week, more than half of those with chronic pain say those difficulties interfered with their work. That drops to 23 per cent of those without pain. People with pain are also far more apt than others to report that lack of sleep interferes with their mood, activities, relationships, and enjoyment of life overall.

People with pain also feel less control over their sleep, worry more about lack of sleep affecting their health and exhibit greater sleep sensitivity. They’re more likely than others to say environmental factors make it more difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep. These factors include noise, light, temperature, and their mattresses alike, suggesting that taking greater care of the bedroom environment may be particularly helpful to pain sufferers.

While both chronic and acute pain is related to lost sleep, the survey indicates that chronic pain is an especially powerful problem. Indeed, one in four people with chronic pain, 23 per cent, say they’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder by a doctor, compared with just 6 per cent of all others.

Sleep station comment that It’s a never-ending battle and a vicious circle between sleep disturbance and pain. In some there may be an element of chicken and egg – is the pain-causing sleep problems or is the mediocre quality of your sleep making your pain feel worse? Pain can, for example, be the main reason that you wake in the night, and these interruptions during the night can lead you to get less sleep, and most important of all, less excellent quality restorative sleep. This sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold and your tolerance for pain and thus can make your pain feel worse.

Source: ZocDoc Healthline, The National Sleep Foundation Sleep Station

Source: ZocDoc

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A touching and true story of ME sufferer Dawn Symons from being diagnosed to recovering.

When did you first get diagnosed?

I wasn’t diagnosed with ME until 2012, but I’ve had ME since I was in my 20’s, so I’ve had it for about 34 years.

And what was it like when you first got your diagnosis? How did that feel?

I felt relieved because I finally had a label for what I was experiencing. Until that point, I experienced a lot of judgment from people for being lazy and hypochondriac, and this wasn’t the case. Finally, having a diagnosis meant that what I was experiencing was real.

Can you tell us your experience of ME?

My experience has changed depending on how severe my condition is. At its worst point, I could hardly even roll over in bed. I was bed bound for around 18 months. Things slowly got better during my recovery. Some days were better than others. I had many setbacks. I still experience symptoms of ME now, I am now able to work, but I have to rearrange a lot of things in my life to allow that to happen. At the moment, I am able to work around 4 hours per day and manage a massage studio in Truro, Cornwall, helping many clients with a whole range of issues.

So at its worst, would this be considered a severe level of CFS?

Yes, I was classed as severe at my rock bottom. It’s a bit like getting up and trying to run a marathon. You hit a wall. And it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because your body has become so weak, and then you try to do something, and you feel worse, and the symptoms that you are experiencing with the muscle pain, with the weakness, with the extreme fatigue. I wonder if that’s to do with the condition itself or because there is a weakness in the body. Although I was classed as severe, there are still people who have it worse than me. I’ve seen people bedridden for long periods and in hospital for months.

When you hit rock bottom, was that when you got the diagnosis?

No, it was after the diagnosis because I got no help. There was no help, there was no support, and at the time, I felt there was no hope. The doctor sent me off to see a Chronic Fatigue Specialist who ran through all of the tests to confirm that I had Chronic Fatigue, and that was pretty much it. And then I was on my own. This is the reason I created First Aid For Stress. It provides support and a clear process for recovery as well as managing symptoms and life. This is something I didn’t have.

Did/ do you take medication for CFS / ME?

I am so sensitive to medications. I can take a dose that, for other people, would do nothing, but for me, it absolutely floors me. Many people who are suffering are very fragile and very sensitive, and we have to learn to appreciate that that’s okay. I realised that I had to change my focus. The focus that I had in the past had to change. It is just not possible to do many of the same activities that I had done in the past.

What did you realise in your recovery journey that you put in the First Aid For Stress Program?

Dealing with stress is very important. Unless you deal with the worry and fear and come to accept the fact that you have Chronic Fatigue, you will not be able to recover. 

The worst thing for your energy levels is your mind chattering, your mental state. It’s so important to learn to be kinder to yourself. To do some meditation, one of the core parts of my work is the meditations that I’ve recorded which are freely available to everyone.

Listening to the recording repeatedly begins to rewire the brain. I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to my own meditation. I almost had to hypnotise myself into believing it because every time I stepped out of my comfort zone, I was knocked back down again. I offer this meditation in the introduction. If someone were to listen to this meditation and only do this, it would transform them because it would help them with the mental chatter that comes with chronic fatigue syndrome.   

It will bring peace of mind to an otherwise anxious and low state. It’s about getting into that still state and seeing that the experience that we are having isn’t the sum of what we are. There is a place that’s full of energy. There is a place that has no pain, the more that we can marinade in that space, the more that we can begin to be open to the possibility that we can experience something different.

What do you say to people who say a program won’t help them because everyone with ME / CFS experiences different symptoms and has different triggers?

I agree with them. That is exactly right. Everyone has had a different experience. That is why this program is multifaceted. That’s why it covers so much, the healing wheel and the progress check and the implementation of the smallest things. That’s why people pick their own focus for their recovery. Once they start adding those small activities into their schedule, they start to see the change.

BIO: Dawn Symons from First Aid For Stress and Maga Therapy. Dawn has lectured and written widely, specialising in tension & stress reduction irrespective of the cause, applying the latest scientific thinking to provide logical, effective & progressive results. She facilitates the First Aid For Stress Program for people suffering from ME / CFS / Anxiety / Depression and Chronic Illness.

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If, you find changing your bed quite an ordeal and also find that it can flare up your back pain then here are a few tips that might stop that from happening.

  1. Change your bed just before you go to bed so you can rest straight after you have changed it.
  2. Use a fitted sheet for your bottom sheet.
  3. Have a top sheet under your duvet so when you change your bed you don’t need to change your quilt cover every time just the sheets and pillow covers.
  4. Turn your duvet cover inside out and lay it flat on your bed so that the opening is at the foot of your bed, then put your duvet flat, on top of your duvet cover, making sure all of the corners are matched up. Starting at the head of your bed, roll your duvet and duvet cover down the bed together then when you get to the end of your bed, take one end and reach into the duvet cover and flip it over exposing the right side of your duvet. If you have someone else that can flip this for you then that’s even better. The Sheet Society have a great video to show you how to do this method which is called The Burrito Method.
  5. Grab your pillows and give them a good fluffing before you place them on the bed. To fluff a pillow, grab it on either side and squeeze the sides together before releasing it.
  6. Tuck everything in, using hospital corners. The trend now is all your bedding tucked in. Apart from it then looking much neater it keeps it neater during the week.
  7. Buy a lightweight throw if you have extra bedding in the winter.

Source: Wiki How Sheet Society