Answer "true" or "false" to the following eight questions to determine if you or someone you care about may have a sleep problem. And be honest! Nobody but you needs to know your answers.
1. On most nights, falling asleep takes me an hour or more.
2. After I fall asleep, I sleep at least seven or eight hours. If I wake up, I fall back to sleep again easily.
3. I rely on at least several drinks of beer, wine, or another form of alcohol before bed.
4. I consider myself a light sleeper.
5. My partner says that I snore.
6. When I wake up in the morning, I feel refreshed.
7. I take naps on the weekend.
8. I like watching scary or exciting TV programs before bed.
What do your answers mean? Let's take them one by one.
If you answered "true" to question 1, you have plenty of company — and you also have a sleep problem.
Lisa was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about a year ago, and she says that on most nights, she just lies in bed and can't sleep. The hours pass from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., but she feels almost more wide awake than she did at noon. She wonders what's wrong with her. Part of Lisa's problem may be that she's just trying too hard to fall asleep. Ironically, the harder she tries, the angrier and more frustrated she gets and the less likely she is to fall asleep. Ease up, Lisa! She (and maybe you) needs to try some of the sleep remedies provided later in this chapter.
If you answered "true" to question 2, good for you! Keep up the good work. Maybe you have some good sleep tips that you can share with your fellow fibromyalgia sufferers.
If you answered "true" to question 3, you need to break this habit as soon as possible. One glass of beer or wine may be a good way to get to sleep for some people. But having more than one glass of beer or wine, as well as drinking any other forms of alcohol, is definitely not a smart choice. You're far more likely to wake up, dehydrated and headachy, around 1 or 2 a.m. with a bad case of insomnia.
If you answered "true" to question 4, you may be a person who isn't getting enough sleep. Do you ever feel truly rested in the morning? If not, you need to try my sleep suggestions later in this chapter.
Maybe you haven't been exercising much (or at all) because of your pain and fatigue. But if you can manage some light exercise, such as a short walk an hour or two before bedtime, this activity could help you get to sleep easier. Be sure to read Chapter 15 for more information on how exercising can improve your FMS symptoms.
Did you answer "true" to question 5? If so, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition by itself. It's also bad because the lack of sleep that this condition induces can also increase the pain of fibromyalgia. Talk to your doctor about resolving this problem.
If you answered "true" to question 6, and you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, that's great! Sounds like you're doing the right thing. Whatever it is, keep doing it.
If your answer to question 7 was "true," I have to tell you that taking naps on the weekend is a no-no for the person with fibromyalgia — unless a daily siesta is your status quo. If you make naps a weekend-only habit, you may disrupt your sleep cycle. Whenever possible, maintain the same sleep hours (within an hour or two) on weeknights and weekends. You should get up at about the same time every day and go to bed at about the same time every night. This habit is especially important for people with sleep problems — with or without fibromyalgia.
If you answered "true" to question 8, and you become excited or upset by scary or violent movies, but you don't want to give them up, avoid watching them before bedtime. Watch a DVD of Saw III on Saturday afternoon instead of late at night.
Most people don't get enough refreshing sleep, and people with fibromyalgia aren't alone in being sleep deprived. According to a survey performed by the National Sleep Foundation in 2000, two-thirds of 1,000 people reported having trouble sleeping at least a few times a week. In fact, sometimes the sleep deprivation is voluntary. Nearly half (45 percent) said that they'd sacrifice more sleep if they could get more done. Yet sleep deprivation leads to car crashes, mistakes at work, and yelling at your kids. A good night's sleep is important for everyone, and it's especially vital for people with FMS.
Infrequently, sleep apnea is the cause of fatigue or daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea is a medical problem that causes people (especially people who are overweight) to actually stop breathing while they're asleep. Although each apnea episode lasts for only a short period, and the breathing eventually gets jump-started again by the brain, people can suffer from dozens of these episodes each hour. These lapses of breathing, when added together, can be dangerous for people. In some cases, they can cause heart or lung problems and even be fatal. If your spouse commonly complains that your snoring can be heard in other rooms of the house, or you constantly wake up with choking and coughing, you may have an allergy or a problem with sleep apnea. See your doctor to find out, and if you have this problem, get treatment for it.
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Who Else Wants To Sleep From Lights Out 'Til Sunrise Without Staring At The Ceiling For Hours Leaving You Feeling Fresh And Ready To Face A New Day You know you should be asleep. You've dedicated the last three hours in the dark to trying to get some sleep. But you're wide awake.