It has been said that fibromyalgia can be caused from suffering with insomnia. For me – the fibromyalgia came first and the insomnia came with it.
Insomnia basically is where you have trouble sleeping. This includes trouble falling asleep, lying awake in the night, not feeling rested, waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep. Many people suffer from it not only people with fibromyalgia.
There are a lot of causes of insomnia in general of which some are quiet obvious. Stress, room temperature, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs as well as work patterns that affect normal sleep.
How do I know if I have insomnia?
People that suffer with insomnia will:
- take 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep
- OR are unable to sleep longer than 6 hours per night
- AND suffer with one of the above for three or more nights a week
What causes insomnia with fibromyalgia?
People who suffer with fibromyalgia are often lacking the serotonin hormone which when low which impacts on sleep quality. When serotonin levels are high it impacts on wakefulness.
Serotonin levels are impacted and lowered when stressed so it really is a vicious cycle. It is really important as it helps to regulate mood, cognition and behaviour. When the levels of serotonin are normal it helps to calm the mind which helps when trying to fall asleep.
What can I do to increase serotonin levels?
Increasing serotonin levels will help to improve your mood and sleep patterns too so it is important to think about ways that you can increase it. There are supplements that you can buy to increase serotonin but there are lots of natural ways.
Foods that are high in carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta and bread lead to increased tryptophan levels (this is the natural amino acid that makes serotonin) that is in turn, turned into serotonin. There are other foods that contain L-tryptophan such as chicken, turkey, salmon, beef and eggs.
When you exercise levels or serotonin are increased in your brain. Exercising when you have fibromyalgia is often difficult so my policy is always little and often – do what you can!
Serotonin levels are naturally higher during the summer months compared to the winter months. It is far easier to be in the sunlight in the summer months but it is equally important in the winter months too. I know I always feel brighter on the days where it is sunny outside. Sunlight is important too for the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes the production of serotonin in your body.
4. Remembering the good times
This may seem a strange point to include but by remembering good things that have happened in your life or times when you have been really happy increases serotonin production. Being positive actually helps boost serotonin production in the brain. I find this point particularly amazing! Look through photographs, chat with friends, remember places that you’ve visited or things that you have done – but remember – focus on what you can do now.
Other things that will help your sleep.
- aving a routine to relax before bedtime is really important. In the last hour before you fall asleep you should spend this time relaxing. This could be by having a bath or reading a book.
- Try not to nap. Although napping is great if you’re having a flare or have had trouble sleeping the night before you will often find that when you have had a nap you struggle to fall asleep that night more than usual. The perfect power nap is now known to be 20 minutes. Set your alarm if you do need to take a nap so that it doesn’t affect your night time routine.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine especially at night. Both of these are known to affect sleep so keep these to a minimal amount.
- Avoid eating late. Eating late affects your cognitive function and memory. It also affects the dreams that you have too – which in turn can affect your ability to fall asleep. It heightens your blood pressure, gives an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and affects your cholesterol levels too. As your body has less time to digest and process foods when you have eaten late it also increases the chances that you will suffer from acid reflux. Lastly, eating late also means that you are more likely to feel hungry the next morning as your pancreas releases insulin which creates more glucose. This glucose means that more of the hormone ghrelin is released and leads to that hungry feeling.
- Make sure that you bedroom is the right temperature to fall asleep in. It is recommended that anywhere between 18’c and 21’c is the optimum temperature for your bedroom. Also make sure that you use your bedroom primarily for sleeping. Try to avoid working on a laptop in your bedroom or watching the TV as this can aggravate your insomnia.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Establishing this routine is proven to lead to a better sleep pattern.
- Lavender oil has been used to many years to aid sleep. I have recently started using this as I thought it would be something cheap and easy to try. Make sure that you buy the essential oil as this is the better quality. Here is a link to some lavender oil that has brilliant reviews and won’t break the bank!
After speaking to my psychologist lately about insomnia I told him what I had been doing. Instead of fighting sleep and getting annoyed that I couldn’t get to sleep I started to keep a book on my bedside table. In those times that I couldn’t sleep I would read a book and this in turn would relax me and help me to fall asleep. This has got to be my best tip.
I hope that you have found this article interesting and a good read 🙂 thank you for your continuing support on my blog. I would love to know what you think 🙂