TUESDAY TIPS FROM #BACKPAINBLOG – THE IMPORTANCE OF REST DAYS…

Our Tuesday tips this week are the importance of rest days for people suffering from any type of pain.

Is there such a thing as too much rest? What if you get out of shape or lose muscle? Is it necessary to rest completely, or is “taking it easy” enough, and for how long? How do you know when to lay off and when to “use it or lose it”? How can you rest anatomy that you need to use all day, every day?

Pro Health say that ‘Rest is a key factor in successfully managing and living with fibromyalgia.  However, most people with fibromyalgia tend to push themselves to their limit every day.  Often this results in a push/crash cycle – doing way too much one day, then taking several days to recover.’

When you are in less pain it’s easy to expand more energy than you have available. I do it all the time and then my symptoms are intensified and I’m in the bad books with the family. ‘The trouble is ‘, as I say to my family, ‘the bell doesn’t ring until after I’ve overdone it.’

Spine Universe wrote that some specific benefits for fibromyalgia sufferers are:

  • It strengthens your muscles. Muscles that are lean, flexible, and strong combat stress. Strong muscles also support your body and bones better, which aid movement and support.
  • It increases energy. People with fibromyalgia often experience debilitating fatigue, and regular physical activity can help boost energy and endurance levels.
  • It promotes a restful sleep. Research shows that exercise helps you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Sleep disorders are a common fibromyalgia symptom—one that exacerbates the disorder’s widespread pain. Better sleep can mean less pain.
  • It’s good for your mental health. Exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and depression—all common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
  • It keeps the weight off. The more weight you carry, the more stress it puts on your body, causing pain. Exercise, along with a balanced diet, will help you reach or maintain a healthy weight.

I think we all know that doing nothing at all while in pain does not mean you will get better but pacing yourself and resting regularly can definitely give a kick start. I redesigned my bedroom to feel like a sanctuary and most days between 3-4pm I close my blinds, pop my heat cushion on and get under the duvet for 40 winks. The difference for me if I don’t have my rest days is pain, pain and much more pain.

 

 

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WORLD SLEEP DAY AND NATIONAL BED MONTH,MARCH 2019…

The month of March has been declared as National Bed Month and also on the 15th March is World Sleep Day which is something many chronic pain sufferers would love to enjoy.

The Sleep Council (helping you get a better nights sleep, create awareness campaigns. The idea behind The Sleep Council awareness campaigns is to highlight the impact of a good night’s sleep on health and wellbeing, the good lifestyle habits to follow and how to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep.

During their awareness campaigns, they actively encourage everyone to get involved and show their support.

The Sleep Council Awareness Campaigns

1st – 31st March

A month dedicated to improving a good night’s kip with a comfortable, supportive bed.

For tips and advice on choosing a new bed and a full list of NBF approved members, visit the National Bed Federation website.

Friday, March 15, 2019 is the 12th annual World Sleep Day. Created and hosted by World Sleep Society, World Sleep Day is an internationally recognized awareness event bringing researchers, health professionals and patients together to recognize sleep and its important impact on our health.

World Sleep Day 2019 will incorporate the slogan, ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging,’ intended to emphasize the importance of sleep in overall health at any age. This focus is purposefully broad in meaning, surrounding the message that quality of life can be improved with healthy sleep. Conversely, when sleep fails, health declines, decreasing quality of life. Sound sleep is a treasured function and one of the core pillars of health. World Sleep Society has compiled ten tips for healthier sleep. These recommendations for children and adults can be viewed on worldsleepday.org under resources.

So, what’s the answer to a good nights sleep? I have written many articles on sleep deprivation and how this is something Fibromyalgia patients suffer from big time. I have gone through most of them to list the most important things to remember in order to get a good nights sleep.

Arthritis Health says that “Positive bedtime habits and environment changes include:

  • Using a high-quality mattress with comfortable sheets and blankets
  • Eliminating light and noise from the bedroom, including glare and sounds from electronics; a sound machine that generates white noise may help mask outside noises (people will often use a fan for this purpose)
  • Lowering the temperature in the bedroom to 68 degrees or lower
  • Using deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques (tensing and then relaxing muscle groups in sequence)
  • Using a biofeedback device to help individuals recognize signs of tension and actively work to relax muscles, slow breathing, and calm down
  • Going to bed at the same time every day
  • Getting up and doing something calming if sleeplessness sets in, returning to bed only once feeling tired

Other obvious tricks from sleep experts are to try a camomile tea before you go to bed. Put your book if it’s on a screen to the blue shade to read. Have a warm bath with some lavender oil drops which can help you to relax. Spray your pillow with watered down lavender oil.

Be smart about napping as while it is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep napping can make it worse. For me personally, if I go for my afternoon rest later than 3pm then I find it difficult to go off at the usual bedtime.

They even suggest turning off or down your light as the night goes on as melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s day, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, therefore making you more alert (I’ve not tried this one).

The N:Rem Sleep System wrote a great guest post here which included a free ebook on Why is Sleep So Important For Fibromyalgia Sufferers.

The Pillow Advisor explains how to choose the correct pillow to suit the way you sleep.

There is much more on this article here.

And finally if all else fails try pressing these acupuncture points to help you sleep. Place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the centre of your breastbone, at the acupressure point known as ‘Sea of Tranquility’. Now close your eyes and apply steady pressure, not too hard, for a minute or two. You will then soon feel tension, anxiety and stress start to slip away.

You could also use your first two fingers and tap them across the top of your head from temple to temple. Then work from front to back and side to side as this can get blood and oxygen moving to ease tension and restore focus.

To destress your shoulders make a gengle half closed fist and with a loose wrist, tap your right hand gently but firmly up your left arm, along your shoulder and up the side and back of your neck. Repat the same process on the other side to ease tension and release endorphins.

14 TIPS ON HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP…

Have a glass of semi-skimmed milk with 2 teaspoons of honey before you got to bed for a natural goodnight’s sleep. Our immune system also works harder during sleep to fight and prevent illness.

Take Melatonin which is a hormone that plays a key part in regulating your natural body-clock. Studies have shown that melatonin improves sleep quality, particularly in the elderly.

Hypnotherapy is another one which is supposed to help – obviously, it’s self-hypnosis which you might find some tricks on that on the internet otherwise you would need to book an appointment with a Hypnotherapist to take you through it.

Take Valerian as it is thought to have a sedative effect. Studies have shown that the root of the valerian makes getting to sleep easier and increases a deeper sleep.

Relaxation therapy which is where you (the patient) focuses on relaxing different muscle groups.

Don’t go to bed early as this can create negative associations with being in bed that turn a short bout of poor sleep into chronic insomnia.

Sounds silly but they suggest you put your Pj’s on as doing this can make a big difference to your routine and mindset on how you wind down.

Take a warm bath with Lavender oils.

Eat more leeks and onions or garlic and artichokes as they contain prebiotic fibres that fuel the healthy bacteria in our gut and can have a profound effect on our health and sleep.

Fill a hot water bottle about half an hour before you go to bed and do this regularly so a routine helps you to unwind.

If you have to pop to the loo in the night then install a red light (or a battery operated red candle) in your bathroom as it can make it easier to fall back to sleep.

Make sure you have the right mattress. There are lots of companies who let you try before you buy so give some a trial run and see if a different mattress helps with your sleep. A huge £100 off (for February)the Nrem Mattress* using the code BACKPAINBLOG100 

Listen to music, relaxation music not head banging stuff.

Sort out your bedroom. I made mine my sanctuary and redesigned it completely a couple of years ago. I had some Venetian blinds fitted in a dark wood colour so that I could make the room dark at any time of the day or early evening. I changed my curtains from a busy floral pattern to a plain cream colour.

I changed the wattage of my lights to as low as I could have them, but still be able to read. I changed the light shades to compliment the curtains in a plain colour. 

I bought a small electric heat pad to warm the bed up on a cold night or cold afternoon. I filled the bed with lots of cushions as well as a v-shaped cushion.  I made sure that my bedside clock had a dark background rather than a bright luminous one. I bought a radio/ cd and put it next to my side of the bed so if I’m having trouble going off to sleep or wake up in pain and need help going back to sleep again, then I can simply press the play button, pop my earphones in without even disturbing my husband.

I have a lavender spray which I spray on my pillow just before I go to bed. The room temperature is very important to me. I actually have no heat on in the bedroom as I prefer to snuggle down under the duvet. 

MORE TRICKS TO HELP YOU SLEEP…

Every magazine that you pick up seems to have another trick to help you sleep but if only one trick you try works for you then it’s always worth posting about.

In this months Woman & Home, they suggest that even if you do not feel tired going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day helps you to sleep better.

If you do decide to do a walk or short workout never do this late in the evening as it will pump adrenaline and you will find  it difficult to go off to sleep.

Avoid large meals and caffeine two hours before you usually go to bed and try if you can to just read and not participate in anything on your screens.

Other obvious tricks from sleep experts are to try a camomile tea before you go to bed. Put your book if it’s on a screen to the blue shade to read. Have a warm bath with some lavender oil drops which can help you to relax. Spray your pillow with watered down lavender oil.

Be smart about napping as while it is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep napping can make it worse. For me personally, if I go for my afternoon rest later than 3pm then I find it difficult to go off at the usual bedtime.

They even suggest turning off or down your light as the night goes on as melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s day, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, therefore making you more alert (I’ve not tried this one).

Get the right mattress, check out what are available from N: Rem Sleep System (put BACK PAIN BLOG in discount code for £30 off if you purchase from them). If all else fails then maybe a light therapy box would work for you (sorry no discount codes for that one).

 

FIGHTING THE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION…

I know I am far from suffering alone when I talk about sleepless nights whether you are suffering from chronic pain or not. Once the cycle of disbelief that you will sleep through the night sets in then your brain is already warning you that it’s going to be the same every night.

There are hundred’s of blog posts and websites on how to get a better nights sleep. I don’t know about you, but I have spent plenty of money on investing and trying different tactics to help with my sleep.

Most nights I manage to get off to sleep without a problem once my amitryptyline has kicked. I always seem to feel so exhausted that I try to convince myself that this will be the best nights sleep I have had in ages. Admittedly over the last six months the persistent pins and needles from my trapped ulnar nerve combined with my low back and neck pain, has woken me up continuously every night without fail. But I honestly convinced myself that once the elbow surgery was done I would be able to get a better nights sleep.

For the first couple of nights after the surgery I was obviously woken up more with the pain from the surgery but I only had a  light sedation so I felt sure after a couple of days that things would start settling down again. How wrong could I have been. The nights are sooooo long when you are constantly waking up and then the mornings seem a blur and a haze seems to envelope my eyes and I find it harder and harder to concentrate for longer than a couple of minutes. All I want to do is fall asleep sitting upright.

According to Wikepedia Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function.

I’ve tried caffeine first thing and find that does wake me up pretty quickly and the shower is a blessing in disguise but before the clock has struck eleven I am already desperate to nod off. The best time of the day for me seems to be after an afternoon sleep (which I have daily) at around 4pm when I always have a cup of tea and a biscuit. My surge of energy then makes me want to do a million things all at once and I really wish I could feel like this first in the morning instead of late afternoon, but I guess if this is how my body works then I shall just have to accept it this way.

One good side to this is that I am always the party animal at night when we go out and in fact a lot of people I know think I must be joking when I complain about how the lack of sleep and pain makes me feel as I always seem to be on top form when they see me. Little do they know that this little dormouse has to work very hard to have her bit of fun time in a 24 hour period.

According to an article on WEB MD Charles Bea, MD says that ‘there is a link between pain and sleep problems, exactly how the two conditions are connected varies from person to person. “You have to determine what is the chicken and what is the egg,” he says. “Is pain a manifestation of, or made worse by, a sleep disorder or is pain causing the poor quality of sleep?”

Charles Bae, MD, a neurologist in the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, puts it this way: “Pain can be the main reason that someone wakes up multiple times a night, and this results in a decrease in sleep quantity and quality, and on the flip side, sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold and pain tolerance and make existing pain feel worse”.

So what’s the answer – Spine Health say that “Psychological techniques. Meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, and deep breathing exercises are some of the more common practices.Sleep medications. Specifically designed to help with sleep, these medications may be considered by themselves or along with other strategies in certain circumstances”, may help with your sleep pattern.

Arthritis Health says that “Positive bedtime habits and environment changes include:

  • Using a high-quality mattress with comfortable sheets and blankets
  • Eliminating light and noise from the bedroom, including glare and sounds from electronics; a sound machine that generates white noise may help mask outside noises (people will often use a fan for this purpose)
  • Lowering the temperature in the bedroom to 68 degrees or lower
  • Using deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques (tensing and then relaxing muscle groups in sequence)
  • Using a biofeedback device to help individuals recognize signs of tension and actively work to relax muscles, slow breathing, and calm down
  • Going to bed at the same time every day
  • Getting up and doing something calming if sleeplessness sets in, returning to bed only once feeling tired

If you have any unique suggestions on how to get back to sleep after being woken up with pain then please let us know so we can all try it.