Sleep hygiene is the daily habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference in the quality of your sleep.
Sleep problems are very common with fibromyalgia. In addition to sleep problems, a majority of people with FM experience sleep disorders. A starting point to improve sleep is to develop good sleep hygiene by changing your sleep habits and your sleep environment.
There was a study in 2012 to evaluate the effectiveness of sleep hygiene instructions for women with fibromyalgia. Seventy women with fibromyalgia completed the study. They were evaluated and then asked to practice sleep hygiene. After three months, the group was re-evaluated.
CONCLUSION: The sleep hygiene instructions allowed changing the patients’ behavior, which resulted in pain and fatigue improvement, increased subjective quality of sleep, in addition to facilitating falling asleep after waking up in the middle of the night.
Good Sleep Habits
Identify the factors that are most disruptive to your own sleep and then focus on altering particular behaviors and patterns to overcome these factors.
- Keep a regular schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This resets your body’s circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature, and other important bodily functions.
- No caffeine, alcohol, spicy or sugary foods 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. These can affect your ability to stay asleep.
- Exercise early in the day, at least 3 hours before bedtime. Regular exercise can help deepen sleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime can decrease your ability to fall asleep.
- Avoid using your bedroom to work, study or eat.
- Relax your mind and body at least an hour before bedtime. Relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and stretching can help reduce anxiety and reduce muscle tension. Then read, listen to music or any other activity that keeps you calm.
- Take a hot bath. An Epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender oil or chamomile oil will soothe achy muscles and help you relax.
- Set a fluid curfew. If you wake up more than once a night to urinate, stop drinking fluids an hour or two before bedtime.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Take out the dog, lock the doors, brush your teeth… Your body gets used to this routine helping you to fall asleep quicker, over time.
- When you can’t sleep, get up and do something boring and repetitive. If problems are keeping you awake, try writing them down. Then go back to bed.
Your Sleep Environment
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. It should make you feel relaxed and peaceful. Use your senses to create the best environment for sleep.
- Make your bed comfortable. Proper mattress support is important to gaining a full nights rest. Memory foam mattress toppers and pillow top mattress pads have a comforting effect on sensitive muscles and joints. A wool mattress topper is supposed to be especially helpful for fibromyalgia. Wool has the ability to support and distribute body weight away from pressure points and tender points. One can also use a heated blanket or mattress pad to loosen tight muscles and relieve aches. And, you need the right pillow to provide the necessary support for the neck and spine.
- Keep your bedroom comfortably cool. To get proper sleep, the body has an internal temperature level that it needs to reach. The ideal room temperature to help the body achieve this is between 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep your bedroom dark. Artificial light can send wake-up messages to the brain, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Check your room for any sources of artificial light, for example; street or porch lights, or even the glow from the power buttons of electronics like TV’s or bright alarm clocks. Block these to make the room dark while you sleep. Consider using low-wattage, incandescent lamps at your bedside. There is even a light bulb that helps your body produce more melatonin. It’s rather expensive but it is supposed to last 50 times longer than an ordinary bulb.
- Make your bedroom quiet. While you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds. Traffic sounds, barking dogs, and many other sounds can disrupt sleep. Use white noise from a fan, air purifier or sound machine to block out other noises. Or you could try listening to delta wave sleep music.
- Certain smells may have an effect on your sleep. For example, lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. Try spraying your pillow with a little lavender oil.
Food And Sleep
The last sleep hygiene tip is to have a bedtime snack. Certain foods can help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep. The best bedtime snacks consist of foods containing tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that aids in the sleep process.
The trick is to combine a tryptophan food with a healthy carbohydrate. Carbohydrates cause the release of insulin, which helps tryptophan reach the brain and cause sleepiness. Step 2: Bedtime Snacks That Help You Sleep