Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chronic Illness & Sleeplessness Part Two - Let's Get Some Sleep!

DISCLAIMER: Please remember This is NOT health advice.  Please talk to your Doctor or Health Professional if you have specific concerns about mobility, joint pains or anything else. Thank you.   Also, I haven't been paid or asked to write this post. These are just my own experiences & things that have helped me. I hope that they can be useful and help others. 

Hi Honeys 
Hello again :) In my last post  I talked about lack of sleep and possible causes, at least in so far as how they have affected me.  Today I wanted to share some of the coping mechanisms I've found over the years.

Chronic Illness & Sleeplessness - Lets Get Some Sleep

The single biggest thief of sleep is pain. I so wish I could find something that would make all of the pain disappear for Spoonies everywhere, but even if we can't make it go away altogether honeys, there are ways to minimise it or at least to address some of the problems directly.  Again my experiences may be very different from others but if any of these ideas help anyone in any way I'd be so happy.

OK, lets start with the single most important factor that affects sleep. Our beds. I like our bed. It's pretty and the only part of it we've changed over the years is the mattress. Even a good mattress though can be pain inducing for Spoonies. Too soft, too hard, just too there :/ So, last summer in an effort to achieve more than the usual 3 - 4 hours of (broken) sleep I normally have, I decided something had to change.

Our mattress is fine, and as everyone is finding in these austere times we're living in, splashing hard earned money on replacing things that don't need replacing is a definite no no.  So, what were the other options? We bought a memory foam mattress topper which secures to the top of the existing mattress with very strong elasticated straps which loop under the corners of the original mattress.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Memory foam mattress topper Image found here

This has been, by far, the single best investment we've made because the difference it has made has been incredible. Difficult to believe that such a thin layer of foam can so totally change the way your mattress feels but it has. It made such a difference that after our first night sleeping on it, next morning we talked and I immediately ordered another one to be delivered to my dear Mother in Law. She too loves hers and says it makes such a difference to how she sleeps.

I sleep on my side, I have Osteo Arthritis in the base of my spine and find it acutely painful to lie on my back ever.  Other than the pain in my spine, one of the problems I often face when lying down is a dreadful pain in my ankles, and to a lesser degree my knees.  This pain isn't a sharp pain, more a dull ache which stays that way unless my ankles touch or knock against each other, if this happens the pain becomes sharp enough to wake me. 

I find a great way to avoid this is to sleep with a pillow, just an ordinary pillow between your legs, from your ankles to your knees. It helps to align your spine when lying down and to avoid ankles and knees from knocking together when sleeping. I also have a little shaped pillow, bought some time ago, which is designed for this purpose. It looks similar to this:

Knee Pillow To Align Spine
Knee pillow Image found here

As I've said though, a normal pillow can help too.  OK, so now we're in bed and as comfortable as we are able to be, but sleep still evades us. It can truly be maddening to feel completely exhausted all evening and to eventually make it to bed and find that your eyes just refuse to close!

I've battled this for many years. I have been completely unable to sleep for days at a time, no matter how tired I was, at one point.  I began watching TV in bed. It helped. It tired my eyes I suppose because I started to fall asleep not long after I went to bed. So for several years now part of my nightly ritual is to switch the TV on.  I really can't sleep now without it. It's certainly not an ideal situation though. My husband has to get up very early for work and having the TV on all night really isn't fair to him.

While shopping recently with my husband, we discovered pillows designed with speakers built in! what a fabulous idea! There is a wire at the end of the pillow which you simply plug into your iphone, mp3 player, ipad etc and whilst you can hear it clearly when lying on the pillow, your partner can snooze happily :)

The only drawback I could see was that it wouldn't be possible to wash the pillow.  Then I discovered this....

Pillow Speaker
Pillow speaker Image found here

These little speakers are  almost flat, have a 1.8 metre long cord and have a 3.5mm connector.  I adore mine! I've blogged here about my love of reading and how "fibro fog" has tried, and happily has failed, to take it away from me.  After buying one of these little speakers, I set about filling an MP3 player with some of our audio books and have found that I drift off easily listening to the lovely Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter stories or wonderful Jason Isaacs reading the Jackson Brodie novels, among others :) The biggest advantage of this over keeping the TV on is of course that since it's under my pillow, hubby can't hear it!

So, these are a couple of examples of things that make my life a little easier in coping with chronic pain at night.  What do you do to cope? How do you deal with sleeplessness? I'd love to hear. Do please share in the comments section below.  

Thank you so much for visiting honeys, I hope you have a fabulous day, filled with smiles & hugs, and that you have more spoons than you can use :)  xx     


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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, I'm so glad you found this post helpful. By sharing our coping methods we can all help each other live a happy life, even when we have a chronic health condition. Thank you for visiting, have a fabulous weekend, hugs x

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