Burning Midnight Oil: Struggling to Sleep
It is the end of the day, you cannot wait for bedtime. You follow a routine of bath, dinner, medication, and warm pajamas. Your body is ready, and your mind is ready. Take me to bed. It is winter and the nights are cooler, so the itching is less. You slide into bed and with some convincing, you drift off to sleep. Your body sighs deeply and sinks into the mattress. Then suddenly you are awake, unsure why, you try to turn over to shift your position, and then you feel it. It feels as if someone has ever so gently cracked each one of your ribs while you were asleep. Now if you are anything like me and your sleeping partner is a four year old dreaming cowgirl, then having your ribs broken is actually a distinct possibility. Too scared to move, as you are waking the reality of the pain is sinking in at a rapid pace. Roll over. Look at the clock and it is only 23:30, two hours after you lay down to sleep. That is when you know it is going to be a long night.
Growing accustomed to sleep issues
I know that so many of you will be able to relate to this. Struggling to sleep when you have psoriatic arthritis is one of the greatest challenges that I have faced. Considering that I have lived through three years of minimal sleeping and a colic baby, this is saying something. The beginning of this winter has been a rough one for me. Usually it takes around two months for the major winter aches and pains to set in on a daily and nightly basis for me. Not this year, we are aiming for overachiever this year in the department of putting me through my paces. Over the years I have become accustomed, and I use this term loosely, to not sleeping a lot. The few people who are very close to me have to listen to me grumble through the extra tired days, and they will ask me, “How do you cope?” Truth is though that sometimes, more often than I may care to mention, I do not actually cope. I just look ahead and do what must be done in that moment to remain a relative version of sane and “in less pain”.
The longer I lay, the more pain
I no longer go to bed a 9pm. I used to and loved it, but no longer do. The longer I lay down, the more pain there is. Ribs, shoulders, hips, back – they are my worst at night. Bedtime is now officially around 11pm. Sounds late, but I would rather have five hours solid sleep than eight hours of broken and disrupted sleep. By “solid sleep”, I mean getting up twice instead of 10 times. Before bed, I have a warm shower – not too hot lest I set off an itchy skin spell. I choose pajamas that are soft, smooth and not too hot, so cotton is normally the first choice. I drink a warm cup of herbal sleepy tea to assist my mind in shutting down for the night. My bed is normally made and the mood quiet and peaceful. Sounds a bit like a routine for baby person, doesn’t it. I drink my pain killers and crawl in to drift off until my inevitable rude awakening. When I wake up with all this pain, excruciating some nights, I no longer lie there and wait for sleep to come in bits and pieces again. I get up. No matter what time it is. I do not always do much, but I find that being up is less painful for me. I do small things, I make a cup of tea and pick up the things laying around the house. I straighten the house and bathrooms. When I feel that the pain is a little less, I will sit on my couch and read. Usually within an hour or two I am ready for round two of this sleep business. Warm bean bags and hot water bottles are always on hand during this nightly adventure to keep me warm and make me feel better.
My new investment for this winter is an eggshell foam mattress topper. On the advice of a friend whose mom suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, I bought one of these. I will be sure to let you know if it has the desired effect. It is said to relieve the pressure on your body and makes for easier sleeping.
What are your tips and tricks for getting through the long nights?