Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule
Sleep. Aahhhh. That ever-elusive best friend in the middle of the night. Often contradictory and in short supply, sleep makes the ultimate difference in daily life and fatigue levels with psoriatic arthritis. In its primary function, sleep is meant to be restorative. It is meant to allow the body to replenish itself and provide a time of healing and rest. Without it, our ability to even simply function is lost. But you’d be surprised at the difference maintaining a regular sleep schedule can make.
Importance of a regular sleep schedule with PsA
We all know that we need at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but how many of us actually work to make that happen? Or more important, how many of us can make it routinely happen? There is very little that is more destructive to our health with psoriatic arthritis than an irregular sleep schedule. We get 4 hours one night, then “think” that we can “make it up” another night and end up sleeping for 9 or even 10 hours. Or worse, we end up worn out and napping throughout the day if we are lucky enough to have the time or ability.
Making sleep a priority
But really, with a chaotic sleep schedule like that, we are doing nothing but shooting ourselves in our already throbbing foot. Doing our best to maintain a regular sleep schedule is the number one thing we can do to fight one of the worst enemies of life with psoriatic arthritis, fatigue. I know it is difficult and there are just some things that are just outside our control. Children need us in the middle of the night. Aches and pains keep up from being able to fall asleep and itching and scratching keep up from staying asleep. Trust me, I get it. Our emails are expected to be answered immediately and we are able to be contacted 24/7. We live in a world where people who make sleep a priority are seen as lazy or weak. All of these are working against us as we work to maintain a regular sleep schedule. But if we are serious about fighting fatigue, we need to get serious about maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
Tips for sticking to a sleep schedule
Be RUTHLESS about your bedtime and after-hours events
When my children we smaller, I would guard their bedtime like a pit bull guards his bone. Once I realized the difference that maintaining a regular sleep schedule made, I began to do the same for my own bedtime. Instead of evenings out, I favored brunch dates and my DVR has had a great workout as I saved my favorite late-night shows for the next day. Treat our own bedtimes the way we treat bedtime for our toddlers. Bedtime is bedtime, no matter what.
Create relaxing environment
Say adios to your electronics. Turn off your alerts and notifications. Most phones these days have a Do Not Disturb feature that allows you to metaphorically unplug and give your eyes (and your brain) a much-needed break. Your body will be much more inclined to relax if you aren’t surfing your phone before bed. Close your curtains and create a calming atmosphere in your bedroom. Limit visual clutter (I know, that's a difficult one).
Routine, routine, routine
Set yourself up with a calming routine and stick with it. Once your body becomes used to the routine, it uses these cues to settle into a restful state as it prepares for sleep. Use hot teas, aromatherapy, meditation, or evening restorative yoga as part of your evening routine to trigger your body to prepare for rest.
Keep creams, medicine, and water close at hand
There is nothing that kills a sleep schedule like having to get up out of bed to retrieve your medicine or a drink of water after you were all comfy and cozy in bed. Keep a bin of medicine and itch creams in your nightstand and water on a coaster. That way, you won’t have to leave the comfort of your bed.
Yes, maintaining a regular sleep schedule is difficult. But when it comes to managing fatigue related to psoriatic arthritis, you'd be surprised at the difference it can make with a little effort and planning.
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?