June 7, 2016

Adopted Sleep Habits


Blog - 53For years my sleep habits were simple, go all day and night, and sleep when you no longer could keep your eyes open.  If I wanted to do something, I did, and made up for the missed sleep whenever I could.  I was always tired, yet ready to roll.  Then everything changed. I was tired and the joints in my hands and feet were killing me. I attributed my exhaustion and pain to lack of sleep and did not seek medical help until I could no longer stand my fatigue and pain.  After months of doctors’ visits I was finally diagnosed with severe RA.    The lack of sleep, pain, & medications took a big toll on my appearance and personality.   All the things in my life changed once I was diagnosed with RA and it has taken years to change my behaviors to accommodate my RA.  This is how I have addressed my chronic fatigue.

Eventually my body began to respond to the medication, my activity level increased, yet I was still fatigued. I was getting adequate sleep, yet I never woke up feeling rested and usually struggled either staying awake or alert during the day.  I had read that sleep deprivation can raise susceptibility to infection and aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, which was an eye opener!  As I have been doing for the last 2 years, adjusting my behavior to make living with RA more manageable, I had to change my sleep habits.

My sleep habits are simple adjustments I made to my nightly routine.  I go to bed and wake up the same time each day, including weekends.  I added walking the dog as soon as I’m up to my routine, instead of walking him at night.  The nightlight in my bedroom has been removed and I no longer go to bed with my iPad in hand.  I also drop lavender oil on my pillows before bedtime and use a deep-breathing exercise I learned in physical therapy.  All of these adjustments helped, but the most significant adjustment I have made is, decreasing my consumption of coffee and caffeinated drinks.  I do have coffee in the morning and limit how much I have at that time.  The rest of the day I drink water or  decaffeinated tea.  All these small adjustments have helped me sleep better, stay asleep, probably contributed to some weight loss, and helped me live my days with “flare”.

XO - 1