20 'Hacks' That Can Make Sleeping With Fibromyalgia Easier
Sleep disturbances are a common symptom for those with fibromyalgia. You may find yourself struggling to fall asleep due to pain or insomnia, or perhaps you can fall asleep fairly easily but tend to wake up frequently throughout the night. Either way, not getting enough sleep can be frustrating and add extra exhaustion to any general fatigue you may already be struggling with.
If fibromyalgia causes sleeping to be difficult for you, you’re not alone. To help you drift off a bit easier, we asked our Mighty community what “hacks” they use to get some sleep despite the obstacles fibro can present. For many, it often takes a combination of medications, practices and products (discovered through a lot of trial and error) to figure out what best helps you relax, relieve pain and stay distracted long enough to catch some zzz’s. Hopefully some of the following ideas can be helpful to keep in your “toolbox” for the next time you find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night.
Join the Spoonie Life Hacks group to get tips for tackling everyday tasks from other people who live with chronic illnesses.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
- “Someone once told me to tell myself that, even if I’m not sleeping, I’m still getting rest. Somehow that takes that ‘oh no! I’m not going to get any sleep!’ stress away and my mind and body relaxes.” – Marian V.
- “A heated mattress pad – it works wonders! When I am sore, it soothes the pain so I can fall asleep quicker and have a more restful sleep.” – Jennifer H.
- “I make a pillow nest! Pillow for my head and body pillows on both sides. I hold one and put the bottom part of it between my legs. The other one is tucked under my back and bottom to support my body. My boyfriend will then tuck my blankets around me so between the pillows and tight blankets my body can fully relax and still be held in place! It has taken myself and my boyfriend a lot to perfect this but it saves me and takes so much pressure off my body!” – Garnet D.
- “I try not to nap in the day if possible, take my pills early, take a shower before bed and exercise at the end of the day so I’m very tired.” – Mariana S.C.
- “I alternate heat and ice for bad pain points. I have learned that I need to be distracted from thinking about the pain. Bluetooth headphones and a movie or TV series that I have seen a million times before. I don’t watch it, I just listen on my headphones. I am distracted just enough to relax and it allows me sleep for at least a few-hour stint.” – Paula D.
- “Just recently I have been applying a few drops of essential oils, bergamot and frankincense, to the bottoms of my feet. Sleep has been deep and restful.” – Angela S.
- “I listen to podcasts after I take my nightly medication. It can help keep my mind off the pain or any negative emotions I might be experiencing. I choose podcasts that aren’t too thought-provoking and put them on timer so it goes off eventually. It really helps me cope on nights with intense pain.” – Alix M.
- “I just downloaded a few sleep apps with relaxation sounds. Surprisingly I fell asleep to one of them the other night. But my problem is staying asleep. I often wake in the middle of the night and have insomnia for up to three hours.” – Allison M.
- “My husband bought an Enso adjustable bed. It even has a massage feature. It is great for when I am hurting, my muscles are sore, or I can’t sleep flat. It will elevate my legs above heart level to help with swelling and sore restless legs.” – Jennie C.
- “I have to keep my room cool because when my pain flares up I get heat flashes. So taking meds and reading with the fan on allows for my body to cool down and get sleepy to escape the pain.” – Taisha A.
- “My gel bead eye mask and a bunch of pillows!” – Eloise T.
- “Heating pad. I know you aren’t supposed to sleep with them but I can’t go to sleep without it. Then it is still hard. It has an automatic timer so it goes off in an hour but I have to admit I usually turn it back on during the night.” – Carol E.
- “I use a diffuser in the room usually with lavender, take my medications and don’t use any electronics once I get in bed. If I get bored, I focus on my breathing, and the lavender.” – Lisa T.
- “Warmth in the winter is definitely key for me. Although, I have a dog and a cat that keep me warm instead of a heated blanket or mattress pad. They also help keep my mood up which is a big plus too.” – Lara B.
- “I take a bath as hot as I can stand. It fools my nerves long enough for me to fall asleep. And I use a heating pad if I happen to wake up after that and can’t go back to sleep.” – Michelle P.
- “I take my meds and then my husband gives me a leg and foot rub. It helps with the pain, the restless leg syndrome and helps me relax enough to fall asleep.” – Stephanie W.
- “I don’t really have problems getting to sleep, but rather staying asleep. When I wake in the middle of night for whatever reason and then find myself one to three hours later still trying to get back to sleep, I generally at the one-hour mark go to the loo and have a drink, scroll through my Facebook – on the darkest setting so it’s not bright – and will eventually get tired in about 10 to 15 minutes and drift off again. If I get to the two-hour mark, I’ll take [medication] that generally works immediately, but if worst case scenario, I start heading towards three hours awake, I give up and get up regardless of what time it is. I then do anything that is needed, washing, etc.” – Em L.
- “Would not be able to sleep without my memory foam mattress topper!” – Jayne D.
- “Meditation! I can’t recommend it enough, it’s cured my insomnia and made me able to come off of sleeping tablets that I’ve been on so long. For anyone interested, if you go into YouTube and search ‘guided meditation for sleep,’ loads will come up! All you have to do is lay back, listen and follow what they say. If you have thoughts that’s fine, just come back to the meditation when you realize you’ve drifted off, eventually the thoughts will quiet down.” – Katie T.
- “I knit and read – the rhythmic motion soothes me and I eventually fall asleep.” – Lakshmi R.
MORE ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA:
Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.