When it comes to answering Fibromyalgia answers, people perk up their ears about sleep. What helps one area of the chronic illness community also helps another. Today’s Q&A centers around common topics – sleep and relaxation. This is Part 2 of our Fibromyalgia Awareness series.
What do sleep and relaxation have to do with each other?
You’ll soon find out.
In Part 1 of this series, we pointed our attention to that restless, uncomfortable, and scary feeling that can surround our current situation – COVID-19, Quarantine – as well as our ongoing situation with our health challenges. That Q&A reply centered on the topic of uncertainty. It’s a good idea to read it first.
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Fibromyalgia Answers – Sleep and Relaxation
Once we understand the uncertainty factor – and how it can knock us off-center, we can take a look at some of the challenges it causes.
I’ve mentioned many times that I refer to sleep (along with pain, fatigue, and fibrofog) as a “results symptoms.” You can read an explanation HERE. A results symptom is one that resolves itself – in time – when other situations and practices are put into place first.
Getting your ducks in a row in other areas can have a profound and direct beneficial result on a results symptom.
When it comes to sleep, it’s pretty obvious that stress gets in the way. I wouldn’t claim to know what your particular stressors are at this time, but we can begin with the uncertainty discussed in last week’s post. Feelings that stem from the unknown stir stressful thoughts. In turn, the body experiences increased symptoms.
It’s a cycle that we’d rather not ride.
There are several fundamental (and well-known) ways to deal with poor sleep. These include getting adequate magnesium, turning off digital devices at least an hour before bed, making sure your bedroom is dark and not too warm, and setting a regular bedtime. These can all prove very helpful.
For much more information on setting and adapting to a regular sleep routine, you can read a detailed client case study on the topic in my book, *Get Back into Whack.
Fibromyalgia Answers – Relaxation
Relaxation has to become a priority. Self-care is non-negotiable. Taking steps to relax your body, in a way that suits you best, has to become a daily practice.
Do you like warm soaks in the tub, light stretching, deep breathing, Tapping, prayer, therapeutic aromatherapy, soothing reading, meditation, or calming music? What appeals to you?
The first step is to help your body experience a relaxed state. Next, it’s mind over matter.
It’s easy to say that a body that can’t sleep isn’t relaxed enough. But there’s a lot more to it than that. The brain is a busy organ. It governs regulatory functions in the body (heart rate, breathing, etc.) as well as sends signals to the organs responsible for hormone regulation. If the brain (and our thoughts) believe that danger is ahead, reaching the desired state of sleep won’t be easy.
Every thought we have is linked to an emotion or feeling. Feelings transmit information to the body – especially to our autonomic nervous system. They “tell” our body whether to relax or stay alert.
This is where monitoring and re-routing your thoughts can help.
The simplest way to re-route thoughts before bed is to create a gratitude/thankfulness/ appreciation practice. It’s far too easy to go to bed thinking about what’s not done and what’s yet-to-do tomorrow. This only makes the brain busier.
Give Your Brain a Better Job
The brain (the mind, actually) is a solution-making machine. Give it a problem and it will church away on solutions. If the “problem” is why you can’t sleep, your mind will come up with a litany of reasons of why you can’t sleep.
It’s far better to ask your brain to solve questions that you want – rather than what you don’t want.
Before bed, ask yourself why it’s so easy to feel relaxed. Ask how it is, that your body feels so, so comfortable in your bed. How the temperature feels just right. And, how your day tomorrow will flow with ease and satisfaction.
This isn’t my first rodeo.
I know this may sound weird. And, it’ll take some brain retraining on your part. The brain wants to go back to familiar patterns (like a snapped rubber band), so be patient with yourself. Be kind. Allow your thoughts to drift and if they go into a negative loop, re-direct them again to something productive.
As always, let me know if you need help or guidance. I’m happy to answer questions or give you some helpful suggestions.
Now that we’ve discussed sleep and relaxation, next week, we’ll dive into the topic that I feel will surprise you the most. We’ll take a look at a topic you’ll not hear at your next doctor’s visit.
Until then, practice and experiment with your favorite relaxation techniques, and here’s to a better night’s sleep for you!
*This post includes an Amazon affiliate link. From it, I may receive important pennies that help to defray the cost of this site.
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