For individuals with the chronic health condition of fibromyalgia, the symptoms experienced include widespread muscle pain and fatigue. The condition is most prevalent among the middle aged, with women being particularly at risk. Women are seven times more likely to come down with the disorder. Along with the pain, tenderness, and fatigue, other symptoms are as follows:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Cognitive or memory problems, which is sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”
- Painful menstrual cycles in women
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive issues
One of the most challenging aspects for many fibromyalgia sufferers is the lack of quality sleep they are able to get, causing them to wake up exhausted and unprepared mentally or physically for the following day. Getting deep rest can make a dramatic difference in pain levels and the person’s sense of wellbeing. When sleep is consistently difficult to attain, this can take a physical and emotional toll on any person. We’ve gathered the following 10 tips that are known to help increase the chances of getting better sleep:
- Exercise – getting regular exercise may sound like the last thing you want to do while suffering from constant pain, but it is actually an essential part of fibromyalgia care. We are not recommending that you overexert yourself. Simply adding in walks or lap swimming can provide the benefits you are looking for without having to do anything too strenuous. Working out in the day can have positive effects on nighttime sleep, but try to avoid activity within the 3 hours before bedtime when physical activity could energize you, making it harder to fall sleep.
- Medication – medications are a very popular solution for individuals struggling with sleep problems. Doctors may prescribe pills to help with falling or staying asleep, but many people have concerns about whether long-term use can lead to developing a dependency on sleep medications.
- Treat other conditions – if you are like many fibromyalgia sufferers, you may have peripheral conditions that are disrupting your sleep. Restless leg syndrome is one of the more common conditions that, once resolved, can easily help to improve sleep quality.
- Regular sleep schedule – getting into the habit of setting a bedtime each night and staying with it every day (even on the weekends) can help increase your overall quality of sleep because it trains your body to feel tired around the same time.
- Skip the nap – unfortunately, daytime naps can interrupt nighttime rest. If napping is a necessity, try to aim for no more than 60 minutes early in the afternoon and get moving as soon as you wake up.
- Get some sun – getting outside into the sunshine within the first hour of waking up can aid in syncing your circadian rhythm. A short walk outside, or even eating your breakfast or drinking your coffee outdoors during the warmer months would be enough to have this same effect.
- Make it dark – ensuring you have a dark bedroom when it’s time for bed is one of the most conducive things you can do when creating a healthy sleep environment. In order to block out any excess light, purchase room-darkening (blackout) shades, and cover up or replace bright alarm clocks or other LED light sources.
- Turn off electronics – avoiding electronics such as the TV, iPad or smartphone during the hours before bedtime is an important step in preparing your brain for sleep. The blue light that shines off of electronic devices actually disturbs your circadian rhythm by reducing melatonin levels. Melatonin is important for getting your body ready for sleep as it is the natural sleep hormone your body produces that lets you know when you’re tired and when it is time to wake up.
- Invest in a quality bed – the quality of your mattress and its ability to provide you with the necessary support needed to reduce pain will dramatically impact the quality or your sleep.
- Avoid overeating or drinking before bedtime – staying away from food and beverages a few hours prior to bedtime can help with sleep quality. By avoiding liquids, it allows your body time to empty your bladder before getting in bed so you can sleep through the night without multiple trips to the bathroom. Steering clear of caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate), alcohol, and spicy foods before bedtime can also lead to better quality of sleep.
A Natural Way to Help with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can be challenging to treat and to manage. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, including the fact that much about the condition is still not understood. Most of the care options available are focused on reducing individual symptoms instead dealing with the root cause. This is where upper cervical chiropractic care has brought hope for so many individuals caught in the dilemma of finding a satisfactory option. The upper cervical specialization within the chiropractic profession takes an intimate look at how central nervous system function can be affected by a misalignment in the upper neck. One thing that is agreed upon about fibromyalgia is that sufferers process pain differently than those without the condition, which is why fibromyalgia is now being considered a pain processing disorder. The central nervous system has the job of transmitting and processing pain, which is the reason that upper cervical chiropractic care is showing so much promise as a way that patients can achieve natural and lasting relief.
The treatment that we provide involves gentle and precise adjustments to the atlas, the uppermost vertebra in the spine. This small bone has the vital job of ensuring that the brainstem (which controls the flow of messages between your brain and body) functions properly and that your blood and cerebrospinal fluid is flowing efficiently to and from the brain. It is no surprise that many people with fibromyalgia have also experienced some type of head or neck injury in their past. Even a mild injury that did not cause much pain or discomfort at the time can cause a small misalignment of the atlas and will eventually have far-reaching effects resulting in the development of conditions like fibromyalgia. Adjusting the underlying problem, or misalignment, can be the catalyst that begins your body’s natural ability to heal and function normally again.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. McClure, call our Charlevoix office at 231-547-4691. You can also click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.