"Listen to your body" is the mantra of the chronically ill. We say this to ourselves and to each other, we know it to be true, and yet oftentimes we feel guilty for resting when we need to or prioritizing sleep over other things. There is something about our culture that prides itself on long hours and never-ending to-do lists that leaves those of us who need the occasional respite from this "all go, no quit" world feeling like we're not quite doing enough. Because of this, a lot of Spoonies tend t0 over-extend themselves, thus making their symptoms worse and perpetuating the cycle, when pacing yourself, resting as needed, and getting more restful sleep will actually help keep your flares to a minimum.
"Different" isn't something humans deal with very well (to put it politely), and having different physical limitations is something a lot of people just "can't understand." But really, they say you can only understand something from your own perspective, so if you've lived a relatively healthy life, it makes sense that you wouldn't really be able to grasp living a life in which you never really feel your best, a world where you may need to rest after showering or doing another "simple chore."
Now, I'm not saying this excuses the deluge of unhelpful and often hurtful comments that tend to come from these types of people, and I'm definitely not saying that having people like this in your life doesn't make things like the guilt described above even worse.
What I am saying is that not everyone will get it, but those of that do get it are here to support you- and to back you up with some facts.
Studies have shown that people with chronic pain, including those with Fibromyalgia, do not reach the deeper levels of sleep (stages 3 and 4) as often as those that have no chronic pain, illnesses or syndromes to speak of do- which isn't great since those deep stages of sleep is when the body heals and replenishes itself. So we do not wake up feeling as rested/replenished as non- Spoonies do, because even though we may have slept the same amount of time or more, we weren't necessarily getting as much needed "good" rest- so we're pretty much usually starting the day behind most other people in terms of energy and restored health.
We then go about our day literally fighting our bodies in the form of any combination of symptoms that chose to show up on any given day, constantly double-tasking because a part of ourselves is constantly distracted by pain, nausea, or any number of a combination of symptoms. This takes it's toll both mentally and physically, especially since you weren't operating with all gears to begin with and/or may be experiencing side-effects from medications/remedies you may take to help manage your symptoms or any number of other complications that comes from a chronic illness or syndrome- hence the all the napping Spoonies out there.
It makes sense then that when we asked our members and followers how they treated their Fibromyalgia, rest, naps, and the prioritization of getting better sleep at night was one of the most popular responses. The cycle of being in too much pain to sleep (often referred to as "painsomnia"), and needing sleep to help you manage/ease your pain is not easily managed. Especially when you also need to do things like cook, clean, work, shower- you know, live your life, but taking the time to do things that will help you get a more restful night's sleep is a major part of most Spoonie treatment plans- and highly encouraged by medical professionals.
For some, getting the best night's sleep possible means doing regular light exercise like walking, restorative yoga, or stretching. Others may lye on an acupressure mat before bed. For some, it's a calming tea, essential oils, or a hot bath. Maybe for you, it's medication, herbal remedies, meditation, journaling, regular massages- or any combination of these things that helps you get the best sleep possible to help you heal from the day you've had and prepare your body for the next day. In my opinion, there is no "right way" or a "best recipe" for a good night's sleep because everyone is different, and frankly, what you need to relax or body and mind changes from one night to the next, so that whole "listen to your body" thing is imperative.
If you currently have issues with your sleeping patterns, and don't currently actively do things to improve them, I highly suggest you start because it's a big part of the healing process. If you need to rest or nap during the day, please do so without guilt- managing a chronic illness or syndrome is taxing, and sometimes your body and/or mind needs a break, and that's okay!
If you'd like to read a little more about this, here are some articles you may find helpful:
What are some of the things you do to help you get a more restful night's sleep? Let us know in the comments below!
Heather, Fabulous Fibro-Fighter and FSC Founder