On Sleep and Chronic Illness

alexander-possingham-CeWNEEsHPbA-unsplash

Sleep. What an interesting and topical topic. Seeing as sleep is essential for the functioning of the immune system and many people are struggling to sleep right now because of anxiety associated with the pandemic, I figured I should write about sleep and how to help with sleep as someone with chronic illness.

I feel like us spoonies struggle with sleep in two different ways. We either sleep too much (hypersomnia) or just cannot sleep (insomnia). Personally I struggle to stick to a normal 9-5 working sleeping pattern due to pain and nausea and because my ME seems to like the hours from 9pm onwards more and hates early morning rising. Many times I’ve gone into work on 4 hours sleep or less. I can easily sleep 10+ hours a night and have naps throughout the day when I’m in a flare. So I guess I go both ways…

Sleep is essential and not having enough of it can make it that much harder to get through the day or make us hyper tired and delerious and then crash later. So if your in the camp that is struggling to get to sleep at night or struggling to get to sleep early enough because your body clock is just against that 9-5 life then here’s a few tips.

  1. Have a wind down routine Although some people can just switch off and yeah I can sometimes, most people can’t. Be it having a hot bath, doing some yoga, reading a book, watching some TV or a combination of the above a wind down routine is essential for a good nights sleep.
  2.  Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. If you work I’m sure you’ll relate to not sleeping great on a Sunday night because you slept in over the weekend. Going to bed and getting up at the same time can have a demonstrable impact on your sleep.
  3. Sleep tea/night tea can help. I drink the Pukka brand of night tea.
  4. Don’t stress about not being able to get to sleep. For some it helps to get up and do something and for others it doesn’t.
  5. If you can,  spend your day somewhere other than your bed, and ideally your bedroom.
  6.  If you have night meds to take that may help you sleep take them in good time. This does two things, helps you fall asleep on time and means you feel less drowsy in the morning.
  7. I listen to podcasts/audio books to go to sleep, I find this helps occupy my brain whilst I’m trying to sleep.
  8. Putting lavender oil on your pillowcase is known to help with sleep
  9.  Try to limit your caffeine intake, especially past early afternoon!
  10. Finally, if you struggle with sleep because of pain try putting pillows under in-between different body parts (For example in-between your legs)

I hope this has proven helpful, there are many other tips and tricks floating around but I wanted to keep it to 10. What helps you sleep?

 

Insomnia, sleep, sleep as a spoonie

Sleep issues are something I’ve suffered with for years. More predominantly since I was around college age and stress got to me which added an extra layer to my sleep issues. When before it was just chronic pain and nausea affecting me.

I know sleep issues are something many adults suffer with, many adults moan about. Say “they haven’t been sleeping.” or “There’s not enough time.” or “They couldn’t get to sleep.” It is somewhat an epidemic. Quite possibly due to modern society. Modern technology and the expectation in some career paths to be 100% totally dedicated to your work and nothing else.

But sleep is essential for everything. And something that should be prioritised whenever possible. It can be frustrating when we can’t get to sleep and only have a maximum number of hours we could possibly get anyway. Especially for us spoonie’s who often suffer from fatigue regardless of getting enough sleep, yet also have the issue of not being able to sleep due to symptoms of our illnesses. It’s quite a difficult situation to be in.

I’m someone who has tried everything and found that although it doesn’t always work a must for me is to have some sort of sleep music or hypnosis to send me off. If not the slightest noise will disrupt and disturb me. And there can be a lot of noise at uni residences.

I’ve also found atleast a basic routine helps, trying to go to sleep not too early or not too late and if I end up being up a lot with a pain flair trying to get my sleep pattern back as soon as possible in order to catch up again is most sensible to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation which generally make me feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, or with some awful flu. Even if it’s 5-6 hours rather than 7-9.

I guess most non spoonies wouldn’t understand that. They may feel 5-6 hours is acceptable sleep, although not enough for optimal human health they can manage on that. Yet us spoonies have out bodies fighting against us anyway and often struggle to one extend or another with energy, especially if we try to live busy normal lives despite out illness so we need a minimum of enough sleep to manage well.

AMAZING REALISATION AND DAMN YOU ED FOR MANIPULATING ME ONCE AGAIN!

CLIMBING. CLIMBING. CLIMBING.

HAVING A LITTLE SET BACK AND I MIGHT BE COMPETING IN WALES IN TWO WEEKS IF MY DAD SAYS YES AND IT SEEMS IM ONLY GOING BACKWARDS!


Ok previously I thought. No I knew the reason for my current going backwards was my weight. Fat doesn’t help you get up the wall and ED said I needed to get skinny again or I’ll never beable to climb as high as a dream. Oh but how come people much heavier than me can climb? With a lot more fat than me ed? HOW ED? That’s what I relised today. There are many factoes contributing to my current lapse. 

Has my climbing got worse? Yes. Has my technique got worse. yes? Am I less focused/ less commited? Yes!

And here is why. 

  1. Exhaustion! Ok it doesn’t take a genious to work out that if your not sleeping as much as you need to your not going to performe to our best. I have been sleeping in a lot lately jut out of an inability to tay awake. I constantly feel axausted. Recantly I have started trying to  sleep 8 hours a night but I can’t seem to get to sleep and if I o then I wake up uring the night and/or have slightly bizzare and horrible dreams which mess with my mind. 
  2. Nutrition, nutrition, nutriton. Relating to my lack of sleep ina way, I find it as an axcuse not to have breakfast. I am currently struggling with my eating disorder a little and I’m not really eating meals just random snacks and even then I’m finding it hard to eat. This ofcourse has an impact on my focus level and climbing ability. 
  3. Recant run of inury’s This is rather self explanitary.
  4. I have a cold. Idk this might affect my climbing ability.
  5. Exam stress. I’m so worried about not passing these exams and failing that not only am I not revising because im stressed and I currently can’t escape to my room cause no laptop and theres no space on the desk downstairs but the stress is having an effect on my focus levels.  

So how to deal with this and get back on track?

  1. I need to work out a schedule. Like  9:30 bed, 7pm: revise till 9pm 4:30pm: Workout…. And draw it up so it’s set in stone.
  2. I need to calm down about the exams!
  3. I need to start meal plans again! *cries* Oh but not your average nutitionist set meal plan! MY OWN MEAL PLAN! (For breakfast and lunches anyway and maybe snacks. My parents prep my dinners.)

Ok I’m going to revise now. Once I’ve cleard this damn desk. Bye!!!!!!