Sleep doesn’t always come easy for those of us with PsA. We suffer from insomnia, painsomnia, and sometimes our bodies would rather sleep during the day rather than at night. For the first twelve years of my chronic life I only slept 2-4 hours a night and that was on a “good” day. I felt and looked like a zombie. To reach the point of where I am at now, which is sleeping 8-10 hours a night; I had to address each of the above mentioned reasons.
If you’re not familiar with the term painsomnia, it is the inability to sleep due to high levels of physical pain. It’s not that we aren’t tired, in fact we are exhausted. Instead, it is not being able to get comfortable or to relax because of pain. Sometimes we get lucky and find a position that is less painful. However, one wrong move or if we stay in that position too long our pain level spikes. Painsomnia occurs when our minds want to drift off to dreamland, but our chronic illness is screaming and punching us. To combat painsomnia I had to address my pain. I had to find the true sources. This wasn’t easy as my entire body throbbed with pain. Many adjustments and changes needed to take place with my treatment plan. Once I found a plan that made it possible for me to feel each area that my pain was stemming from I was able to address them. While I couldn’t remove them, I could reduce the inflammation that fueled them and make an effort to not aggravate them.
Insomnia comes in many forms. Both physical and mental stimulation is what keeps me up. I have learned that I need a good 2-3 hours to start preparing myself for a good night’s sleep. I start by changing into my nighttime pajamas and washing my face. Since my evening pain medication can take up to 2 hours to take full effect I make sure to take them at least 2 hours before I want to be asleep. Some nights I follow one of my evening yoga routines to relax. No matter what I do it is imperative that my mind and body aren’t over stimulated by loud or upbeat music, excitement, or stress. I have also had to accept that my bedtime will be delayed when I do go out for an evening of fun.
3. Day sleeper
In my post, Soaking Up Moon Beams and Watching the Sun Rise, I shared how my nights and days get mixed up a few times a year. Sleeping during the day can be difficult. The phone rings, friends text, the doorbell rings, and the sun shines bright! To get a better day’s sleep, I turn off the phones. I turn on my cellphone’s do not disturb function and program it so that only one or two people are able to ring through in case of an emergency. If there is no one at home to answer the door, I put a sign on it. My sign says “Do not knock or ring doorbell if you wish to live, baby is sleeping, mother is a (word that rhymes with stitch). Come back later”. So what if my baby is 15 and I am actually the one who is sleeping??!! It works! And last but not least I had to block out the sun. I close my blinds and use a sleep mask. Don’t like sleep masks? Try blackout curtains instead.
What helps you sleep?