I have wanted to write and article on Insomnia and related sleep problems now for some time. This is because I would say that Insomnia is by biggest problem and it can happen to anyone not just those with Fibromyalgia, CFS & M.E. It is also the most common medical complaint I hear from my friends and because of my problems I have been looking at Insomnia as a subject for many years.

Insomnia

Its effects on me
The reason Insomnia is my biggest problem is rather simple: It magnifies any medical complaint and makes it worse. Problems with my sleep cause me to become very tired, experience more pain, experience more “Fibro Fog” or “Brain Fog” and over the years sleep has had a dramatic effect on my memory. Insomnia is capable of completely ruining your life as it is so hard to control and can stop or seriously hamper you in performing any task you choose.

What is Insomnia
There are various myths around about Insomnia, I have been amazed by how many people think Insomnia is a condition that makes people require less sleep than normal. The truth is almost any problem in your control over sleep could be classed as Insomnia at first. On some occasions when Insomnia is investigated other medical conditions are found such as Sleep Apnoea. For the rest of us there are plenty of things to try but almost nothing to turn to that can help.

How to tackle it
First and foremost learn more about Insomnia on basic heath websites such as the NHS website, patient.co.uk etc etc to make sure what you think is Insomnia is accurate. Secondly open yourself up to the idea that Insomnia can be caused by many things and can be helped by even more. You are going to have to start looking at the reasons “why” you have sleep problems and start trying various things out. Number one on your list should be “good sleep hygiene.” This is a fairly new term explaining how you can change your behaviour, surroundings and psychology in order to give you a better chance of having a good nights sleep. People with Insomnia can often associate their bedrooms with things that are not related to sleep. Your bedroom should be a place for sleep and not many other activities. You should not be using your bedroom or at least your bed as a multi purpose place for eating, playing games, watching television, reading, writing or working. You need to associate your bed with sleep and relaxation. If for some reason your bedroom is to noisy, too hot, too cold, too light or too uncomfortable look into what you can do to solve these problems. Establish a good routine and avoid using stimulants (including caffeine and sugar), exercising, watching action packed television or playing computer games before you go try and go to sleep. Studies have shown that engaging yourself in a gripping television program or movie, playing a fast paced computer game, or emotionally identifying with characters in books can cause your body to respond as if you were the character in the same situation and it can increase your heart rate, release adrenaline and speed up your brain activity all things which are the opposite of relaxing yourself into refreshing sleep.

After you look and “good sleep hygiene” you should then go talk things through with your GP if you are not finding any improvement. Now advice from your GP can vary a lot, some GP’s will refer you to an expert, look into the reasons behind your sleep problem and help you with them but some will send you off with a prescription for a tranquilliser. It goes without saying that you should try most things BEFORE you start to try Drug related assistance for your sleep. All medications have side effects and are always a compromise, if you can steer clear of medications at the start your body will thank you for it. I am by no means saying that you should not take medications at all, I am just saying do not make it one of your first steps. It is also worth pointing out that medications that can help you sleep could effect your abilities to drive, operate machinery and alter your functions when awake and a lot of sleep related medicines can be addictive as well. It is also worth mentioning you should go see your GP straight away if your sleep problems are related to pain or difficulties in breathing.

Complimentary medicine can also pay its part in helping you to sleep depending on what is behind your sleeping problems. It is worth exploring natural remedies or therapies but always run this by your doctor first and discuss taking natural remedies alongside any medication as dangerous drug interactions are not limited to medicines alone and some of these interactions can be very dangerous and people giving you natural and complimentary medicine are likely to be far less qualified than your GP.

Insomnia & Fibromyalgia
This is a difficult one and I would go as far as saying sleep problems can actually cause Fibromyalgia and if you have been diagnosed with it your probably going to know already what sleep problems can do to you. When you have Fibromyalgia it is very difficult to judge how much sleep your body needs, sometimes it seems to cope fine with little sleep and terribly with long sleep and there is no way to find out what your body needs. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, like me you may live the majority of your time in bed. Due to this you will have to break some of the rules about good sleep hygiene and use your bed not just for sleeping but for living in. If this is the case a day bed may be an investment. Another investment that I made a few years ago was a Tempur mattress, they are very expensive but I knew if it could help me there was a greater chance of me being able to do some activities that could bring money into the family. With Fibromyalgia your more likely to feel the lumps and bumps in feathers and springs used in normal mattresses and a memory foam mattress can really help. If you sleep in the same bed as your partner it does a good job of keeping your movements to your side of the bed so not to disturb their sleep, with this in mind I went for a Superking Size bed and is worth considering the option if you have the space. One thing I will say about memory foam is that it can keep you warmer than a regular mattress so if you have problems overheating in the night memory foam might not be for you.

Every cloud has a silver lining and Fibromyalgia is certainly a cloud of the big dark type. However one silver lining is this: Some medications used to treat Fibromyalgia pain can also be used to treat sleep problems so you could take one pill to help both.

The over-active mind
The over active mind is probably the most common cause of Insomnia that people have used when discussing their sleep problems with me. Also it is a problem for me. Firstly I would urge you to look at sleep hygiene again as you may be stimulating your mind too much before or during the time you are trying to sleep however there are exceptions. Things like television, books or games before bed have been known to work for the over active mind as they take your mind of your daily stress and transport it to a far less anxious place before bed. Don’t be afraid to try things that are not considered good sleep hygiene as you will soon know if they work and if they don’t you can cut them back out again just as easy. The notepad and paper idea is a good one, the concept is that if you have things going through your mind all the time you may be getting anxious about remembering them all in the morning, a simple pen and paper by the bed allows you to make a note of the idea in seconds knowing its safe and this in turn reduces your levels of anxiety and stress. One last thing is explore the mind based therapies, things like counselling and CBT can be accessed through the health service (if you don’t mind waiting) and could really help you if its your mind stopping you to sleep so make sure you look into these.

Help Me
If you have any ideas to help Insomnia then let me know. You can comment on this post at the bottom and send me an email or contact form asking me to approve your comment (as I get thousands of fake comments a day so I have to approve comments manually one by one)

The last thing you should do
……… is lie in bed, frustrated and let Insomnia ruin your life. Insomnia is so difficult to treat and there are so many causes for it, but it is better to be patient and to try something new than to lie in bed winding yourself up. Often it could be better to get up, read a book, have a walk round the house and go back to bed for a fresh try!

Since writing this a friend found a story from the BBC that seemed to back up what I was saying. Read “Bad sleep ‘dramatically’ alters body”

Insomnia E-books

Searching around soon turns up many books on the subject of Insomnia, most seem to promise to solve your problems even though I’m rather sceptical. I have complied a collection of e-books for the Kindle under £2 for anyone wanting to read more about the subject or for those who are trying everything everything to solve their sleep problems. It is worth mentioning that now and again these books do come up for FREE and Amazon Prime members can “borrow” these books from Amazon at no cost. I have not read any of these books however if you do I would love to have people get in touch with a review of the book they have read, if this happens I will put each book with a review into the products section of this website and I am more than happy to credit you in your review.