Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid. Some of the symptoms associated with an overactive thyroid are difficulty getting to sleep, brittle nails, and some hair loss.
I was originally diagnosed with this disease when I was 12 years old and it was treated with medication for a year. But since starting a new medication this year for my Ankylosing Spondylitis, it has returned.
I had many nights where I just couldn’t fall asleep and it was very frustrating lying in bed waiting for sleep to come and didn’t until many hours later. After I finally got to sleep, I would wake up in the middle of the night restless and alert.
I started medication earlier this year which has assisted with the symptoms so I’m sleeping better now. But I researched some other ways to fall asleep so I don’t have to rely on medication. Before I get into the tips, I’ll first define insomnia, mention some insomnia myths, and why insomnia can happen.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by having problems getting to sleep and staying asleep during the night. It can take a toll on your energy, mood, and your ability to function during the day.
Some insomnia myths
- Having a drink to sleep
Some people believe that a drink before bedtime will make them sleepy enough so they don’t notice the pain. But this is a bad habit that needs to be broken because consistent use of alcohol can cause liver damage leading to cirrhosis (a build up of scar tissue) which can destroy the liver.
- Napping during the day
Taking a short 20 minute nap can be restful and help to make you alert. But if you have insomnia, napping for long periods of time during the day can disrupt your brain’s sleep rhythm, making it very hard for you to fall asleep.
Why does Insomnia happen?
Insomnia has been shown to be prevalent among women and older adults and can occur because of stress, anxiety, depression, and physical pain. Additionally, menopause, and working late night rotating shifts can also increase your chances.
If you’re experiencing any one of these factors, it doesn’t mean that one or all will cause insomnia. But the presence of any one of these factors can significantly increase your chances.
Insomnia can also severely decrease your quality of life such as making you anxious and causing extreme fatigue. Your chronic pain can also become heightened because your mind is continually focused on worrying if you can fall asleep.
7 Best Tips to Fall Asleep (When You’re in a Flare)
When you’re getting ready for bed and you begin to worry that you won’t be able to fall asleep, it will only make the process harder. Your thoughts can begin to creep into your head causing you even more anxiety. Especially if you have a big day ahead at work because you’re scared you’ll mess up and not look professional.
If you’re suffering from insomnia and your painful flare is off the charts, there is hope. I’ve listed below some tips to get you started towards a good night’s sleep:
Tip 1: Use a bedtime routine
Studies show that the importance of a bedtime routine for adults can:
- increase sleep duration
- increase sleep quality
Try to get into the practice of winding down and relaxing before going to bed. You can try curling up with a book in your favorite chair.
I put a free guide together just for you if you’re having a hard time falling asleep.
Tip 2: Daily movement
It’s important to move regularly each day to help with stiff joints and muscles. You can take a walk in the evening to calm your mind and promote restfulness. Strenuous activity before bedtime can keep you alert and also increase your body temperature keeping it elevated for a few hours.
Tip 3: Eat dinner a few hours before bedtime
Eating your dinner a few hours before you go to bed, allows your stomach to properly digest. Focus on eating a smaller meal consisting of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein to satisfy your hunger.
Tip 4: Practice mindfulness meditation
Studies support mindfulness meditation can assist with chronic pain management. It allows you to focus on the parts of your body causing discomfort and trains your mind to deal with your chronic pain during the day.
Tip 5: Stay off of all electronics 1 hour before bedtime
If you believe staying on your smartphone in bed to help relax you so you can fall asleep isn’t true. This activity can stimulate you instead and interfere with your brain’s melatonin levels. Increased melatonin levels are required for you to fall alseep.
Tip 6: Stop drinking caffeine before bed
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you stop drinking caffeine at least 6 hours before going to bed. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and causes your body to forget that it’s tired.
Tip 7: Keep your room cool
The temperature in your bedroom can make a big difference in your sleep quality because sleep usually occurs when your body temperature drops. Additionally, if your bedroom is too hot or too cold you may toss and turn during the night.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Insomnia
Dealing with insomnia can be very frustrating because it can rob you of energy and your sleep. It’s important to address so that it doesn’t turn into a chronic problem.
I hope you found some of these 7 tips to getting a good night’s sleep (when you’re in a flare) helpful and would appreciate if you shared this post with a friend.