‘Oh Sleep! it is a gentle thing’
– The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Getting enough sleep, getting enough quality sleep is an obsession for many people in today’s hectic world, but for a Fibromyalgia suffer it is the single most important thing for addressing so many of your symptoms. The internet, newspapers, magazines and bookshops are loaded with suggestions for improving sleep – most usually dependent on purchasing something.
‘Blessings on him who invented sleep’
– Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Within this plethora of information there are some gems. To help save you time and energy here are a few points that I have found most helpful:
- Full memory foam mattress
- Sculpted memory foam pillow
- Best quality duvet you can afford — goose down and a size larger than your bed
- TWO hot water bottles
- Soft, warm and well-fitting pajamas
- Bed socks
- Clean, dust free and clutter free bedroom
- Remove all electrical devices from the bedroom (use an old-fashioned alarm clock if one is needed)
I cannot stress enough how much my sleep improved with a memory foam mattress. Now these can be very expensive but we found Dormeo on-line and purchased a double mattress of medium firmness for under £300. It was delivered within a week and came with a 15 year guarantee. Nearly 5 years on it’s still as good as new. It took a few nights to get used to it, especially the lack of depth when you sit on the bed, but I noticed an almost immediate improvement in the quality of sleep, when I got some, and after a while I stopped aching so badly in the mornings.
It was a while longer before I found a decent memory foam pillow but this has proved to be another excellent purchase. I tried flat memory foam and a half-bolster shaped pillow to start with and both helped a little. But the real break through was with a more sculpted variety which I found thanks to a local chiropractor, New Milton Chiropractic Clinic. I wasn’t even there for myself but was in the waiting room while my daughter was with the chiropractor and saw a selection of pillows on display. The receptionist explained the differences and said I could try one for a couple of nights, then, if it suited me, she would order it for me. The trial was a great success and my new pillow was with me within a week for under £50. This pillow comes everywhere with me, it even fits in my Ryanair friendly hand luggage. I will not, cannot sleep without it.
Keeping warm is vital but a bit tricky when your body cannot support much weight. Fortunately, we already had a king-size, goose down duvet, which has a good overhang on a double bed and therefore prevents unwanted drafts.
Hot-water bottles are a must. I use two: one for my feet and one near my neck and shoulders.
Needless to say a nice soft, warm pair of pajamas and some bed socks are essential.
THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
A lot has been written about the bedroom environment – normally by those selling stuff, I have found the following most useful:
- Keep the room clutter free and clean. So, if you only vacuum one room, make it your bedroom.
- Remove electrical items: TV, stereo, computers, mobile phones – anything that has an irritating light.
- Keep the room as dark as possible. Invest in thick curtains or a blackout blind.
BED TIME ROUTINE
‘Give me mandragora . . .
That I might sleep out this great gap of time’
– Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare
The one and only thing that has made any significant improvement to my sleep, other than the above points, is following the advice given by Paul McKenna in his book ‘I Can Make You Sleep’. Forget pills, lotions, sprays and herbal concoctions. Read this book, follow the instructions and your sleep will improve. The initial improvement for me was vast. I still have some bad nights, usually because of pain at about 2am, but so long as I follow the ‘rules of sleep’ set out in McKenna’s book, the bad nights don’t become a habit and better nights follow.
‘I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.’
– A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare
Improving Sleep, Improving Symptoms, Improving Life