Ever since I can remember I’ve had trouble sleeping. I inherited it from my dad. In college I actually became known for it. This was more than just pulling the occasional all-nighters like most students. I didn’t sleep at night. Ever.
Just one example: my senior year I researched and wrote my special honors thesis in 72 hours. Straight. I only got up from my desk to get a coffee refill or use the bathroom. I fully believed that “sleep was for the weak.” That by giving up sleep I suddenly had an extra 8 hours to get shit done. And I got shit done.
The problem however, is once you graduate from college, being able to stay up 72 hours straight isn’t a skill you need anymore. In fact, it becomes a disadvantage. When it’s 3am and your brain is still running on all cylinders, what do you do? Do you mindlessly watch TV or read a book to try to pass the time? Or do you find a project that needs to get done, like completely reorganizing your closet or kitchen?
I honestly don’t know the answer. I’ve done both. In fact my best work normally is done between 2 and 3am.
So why am I telling you all this? Because for the last couple of weeks I’ve been having trouble sleeping. And have started to see a pattern with my fibromyalgia pain.
Fibromyalgia and Sleep
Most people with fibromyalgia will tell you there are some days where all they can do is lay in bed. If they move or get up, the pain would be excruciating. Add to that the chronic fatigue that typically comes with fibro and now the entire day is wasted.
But one of the problems with fibromyalgia is that it’s different for each person. I say “most people with fibromyalgia,” because I am the exact opposite. I cannot under any circumstances stay laying in bed, even for an hour. I cannot nap. I can’t even sit on the couch for more than an hour. Otherwise my fibromyalgia pain will start.
So I’ve learned. When my eyes open in the morning, I can’t enjoy the warmth of my bed for an extra 15 minutes like many people do on the weekends. I have to get up. If I’m spending my day reading or writing a blog post on my couch, as soon as I feel the pain start in my back I’m immediately putting on my coat to go for a walk.
However for the last few weeks, I’ve been suffering from more fibromyalgia pain than normal. I know it’s not food related. Because of the Whole30, I’ve been gluten, dairy and soy free. I haven’t touched alcohol, which occasionally is also a trigger. And I haven’t been laying in bed or sitting on the couch.
During the last two weeks I’ve had at least four days where my fibromyalgia has been bad. And all four nights before I had terrible insomnia. That’s enough proof for me to see a connection.
Which means if I’m going to truly be pain free, I’m going to have to make some changes.
My Sleep Experiment
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you’ve probably looked online for help. A quick google search for “tips to help you sleep” will give you thousands of suggestions. No caffeine after noon, turn off electronics, keep your room dark and cold, workout, create a bedtime routine, take melatonin, meditate…the list is endless. And as someone with insomnia, I’ve tried them all. Normally with no luck.
But clearly I have to do something. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to seriously give any and all suggestions a try. And then report back. Hopefully I will learn something that works to share with you guys who go through the same thing.
Starting tonight. After I finish writing this blog post (it’s currently 9pm), I’m brushing my teeth, putting on my amber glasses, and getting into bed with a book.
Crossing fingers that I’m not still reading at 3am….