It’s no secret that good sleep, (which is different than just attempting to sleep) is a powerful mechanism we all need. For those suffering from major illness like neuromyelitis optica (NMO), regular, good quality sleep is necessary for maintenance, repair and I’d even go as far as to say survival.
I suffer from horrible insomnia. I know it’s from a list of reasons and I do what I can to improve it but admittedly, it’s a work in progress. Yes, stress is a factor but that won’t change in my life; I’m the type who seeks out being busy and juggling multiple balls in the air.
Another major factor is what I call “painsomnia”. Currently I require pain medication and sleeping pills to get a restful night. I’m not a fan of more medication so I recently worked with a sleep clinic to find a way to manage this better. The result was that pain will always be a factor and staying still for an extended period of time will always aggravate it. Without medication my arms and legs tingle then eventually ache until they are on fire with pins and needles. On a regular basis my dog finds me pacing through our bedroom to subside the pain.
I’ve put into place other coping mechanisms to help with my sleep quality.
Diffuser – I love my essential oils. The soothing smell of lavender or sleep blends help me feel relaxed.
Positive sleep habits – The sleep clinic suggested cognitive behavioural therapy, which puts into practice good habits like no TVs half hour before bed and meditation.
Good bedding – My recent guilty pleasure is nice sheets with calming dark colours. I find loud bedding counterintuitive.
Bedtime snacks – My medication regime even during the day is tough to swallow (ha!) so I find consuming several smaller meals beneficial to tolerating all the pills. But by the end of the day I’m still hungry so I consume light snacks like air popcorn, a banana and drink a herbal tea like chamomile or peppermint.
Wakeup Light – There’s research that says how you wake up will affect your energy for the day. I’ve always hated the jarring sound of an alarm so we’ve now installed lights and quiet piano music that fades on till it’s time to wake up.
Photo credit: Alexandru Zdrobau