Sleep – the thing I seem to need more of than pretty much anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve always been one of those people who need lots of sleep. Sleep deprived me cannot function. Simple.
But then I got diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Sleep – at least good quality sleep – became something I could only hope for. That’s the funny(?!?) thing about CFS. You’re always exhausted – like bone deep exhausted. But sleep doesn’t really happen. Not proper sleep. It’s a half sleep where to everyone else you look like you’re sleeping. Your body is stuck. Your mind is switched off, or talking nonsense. But you feel pain. You hear every sound. Then there’s the nights where there’s no sleep at all. Where the pain is so much that just breathing feels like too much effort. And now and again there’s those miracle nights. The ones where you sleep all night long, hours and hours of real sleep. And then you wake up, feeling just as rubbish as if you’d not even been to bed. Arghhhh!!!!
I have help to sleep now – amitriptyline, technically an antidepressant, but not prescribed as that nowadays. Its used to help manage nerve pain (another one of my wonderful CFS symptoms) and one of the side effects is sleep. So I take it every evening (my days would be entirely written off if I took them at any other time!) and I fall asleep. And sometimes I sleep right through. Anything less than 10 hours in bed and I won’t be able to cope. Gone are the days where I’d regularly need someone to physically help me out of bed. Nowadays it’s more likely to be the snooze button that causes the problems!
Throughout the worst of my illness it was always the mornings that I knew I had to be functional for. I had to be able to get up in the morning and get my daughter to school. After that I could spend all day in bed if I needed to. But mornings – they had to happen.
So I started setting my alarm. And going to bed early. Then earlier. And earlier. And much earlier. Seriously – 9pm became a really late night! Now its my normal bedtime. I’m so rock’n’roll!! It’s all part of my pacing – I don’t need to be able to do lots in the evening. At least not regularly, but mornings – they matter.
Now I have a lumie. An alarm clock that wakes you up with light, a gradually increasing light. It’s changed my life! Now I can get up at the time I intend to get up. I still need those tablets to help me sleep, but I can get up when I have to. I just might need a whole load of naps during the day 😉
Every now and then I try to come off those tablets. I’ve seen lots of people struggle with taking them and the side effects they can cause. I thought I was lucky because I didn’t seem to have those problems, but now that I’ve been on them for so long it seems my body needs them if I’m to get any sleep. The doctor gave me a plan, to very slowly reduce the dose, but even a slight reduction seems to immediately trigger total insomnia and within a week I’m in more pain than I know what to do with. So I go back up again, and within a couple of days I’m ok again. I’m not sure if that means I’m going to have to accept taking those tablets forever, or if its actually a temporary withdrawal type process I go through, and if I could just cope with it for a little longer it would ease of and I’d find myself able to manage perfectly well without them. Who knows right now?!
But sleep is important – and sometimes difficult – regardless of any underlying health issues. It’s the way our bodies restore and recover from the previous day so we’re ready for the next one. A good nights sleep makes everyone feel better!
It’s World Sleep Day on Friday 16th March, and given all the fun and games I go through to get enough quality sleep, its definitely a day I can get behind!
Neal’s Yard Remedies have some advice for getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling (and looking) better for it. And we all know how much I love NYR products – click through to my NYR shop if you’d like to try any of these ones, or get in touch if you’d like to know more.
Step 1: Have a bubble bath with Aromatic Foaming Bath £15.50
Step 2: After your bath, massage a small amount of Beauty Sleep Body Butter into your skin £23.00
Step 3: Apply 2-3 pumps of Beauty Sleep Concentrate on your face and neck, under your night cream £35.00
Step 4: Take 1 Beauty Sleep Supplement before bed to help reduce fatigue and improve your skin £26.50
Step 5: Finish by spritzing Goodnight Pillow Mist around the room and onto your pillow £15.50
Now, I’ll be honest – this is definitely not my regular night time routine, as much as I’d love it to be! I rarely get chance to have a bath in the evenings, but that just makes it more special when I do! I love the beauty sleep body butter and use it most days. Its so rich and lasts ages as you really do only need a small amount. I’ve recently got some of the beauty sleep concentrate to try, so haven’t been using it for quite so long, but as someone who has been battling dry skin more often than not lately it certainly seems to be helping. I absolutely love the pillow mist – it smells gorgeous and has become a non-neg otiable part of my bed time routine over the last few months. Who doesn’t want to go to bed smelling great and feeling relaxed?! It's not a miracle cure for CFS or an instant solution to insomnia, but it helps me get off to sleep a little easier than before.
What does your bedtime routine look like? How do you make sure you get enough sleep? And will you be doing anything to mark World Sleep Day? PJs all day sounds good to me!