Sleep problems are common with ME/CFS. One of the cardinal symptoms is un-refreshing sleep; however, this lack of feeling rested is compounded when the patient is unable to get to sleep or when they continually wake through the night.
During the early chronic stages of the illness an individual may sleep anywhere between 12 – 18 hours a day (this was my experience). This obviously means they will sleep through the day as well as at night. The body is at charge here and it’s letting you know that if you do not completely rest then considerable harm may ensue.
As the illness progresses sleep may return to a more normal presentation. Although depending upon the severity of ME/CFS the person, may still need several hours sleep during the day.
Problems arise when a person cannot sleep well during the night and they slip into a pattern of sleeping during the day. Reasons for this are unknown but could relate to disruption of the central nervous system and brain function. A person may also find they are unable to sleep because of other symptoms for example muscle or joint pain.
Sleep is essential for recovery and repair, without adequate sleep concentration and planning will become very difficult thus compounding cognitive function. Many biological processes are recycled during sleep including the chemicals needed to produce energy. Without adequate sleep and rest recovery will become impossible!
Listed below are some strategies which may improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. We suggest you research some of the below strategies and consult with your GP or healthcare provider to develop a plan if sleeping is a problem or becoming a problem for you.
- Melatonin Therapy
- Stabilise Blood Sugar through diet
- Get up at a regular time each morning
- Learn to pace activity effectively
- If you are capable of sustaining medium or high levels of activity practice Yoga and Meditation daily
- Cut out Caffeine and other Stimulants
- Try a Body Scan Meditation an hour before bed
- Reduce daily stress
- Supplement the relaxation mineral Magnesium (changes in diet will also supply more of this mineral, nuts, sea vegetables, beans and greens)
- Use an eye mask or ear plugs to reduce environmental stimuli