Good evening and welcome back to this weeks instalment of the Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles. This week we will be looking at the benefits of a constant wake time, and how you should decide what that wake time should be.
The first active step I took in improving my sleep was to decide on what time I should get up every morning. Before making this decision both my sleep and wake times were all over the place and my body had pretty much forgotten how to sleep properly (it also forgot last night), and when you are dealing with fibromyalgia symptoms, sleep is key. Without even a hint of decent sleep, my days are full of pain, tiredness, brain fog and anxiety. With sleep, the ‘normal’ Sarah makes more of an appearance, which is the case on most days. When I have bad days, my worst of which usually follow a bad night in the sack, I’m pretty much walking through mud and thinking about going back to bed all day. My brain forgets how to connect with my mouth, and my pain drives me to distraction. OK when you are at home, absolutely not OK when you are at work.
So why choose a constant wake up time, and how do you decide what time it should be?
Our bodies love, and actually crave a constant wake up time. If you cast your mind back to when we spoke about circadian rhythms in this post, you will remember that our bodies need to find their rhythms and a constant wake up time is a good anchor point for getting your circadian hormones in sync. By waking and getting up into the daylight (see this post) at the same time every day (and yes that includes weekends) you are telling your body that it is time to get up and time to start your day. Over time your body will naturally begin to suppress your sleepy hormones while you sleep in preparation for your wake up time, which should mean that when you wake up you aren’t quite as groggy as you have been accustomed to, most likely because you have been woken up mid sleep cycle (you can find out more about sleep cycles here). Initially you will more than likely need an alarm to wake you up, but after time you will probably find that you will naturally wake up close to when your alarm is due to go off (although I would still set an alarm just in case!).
Without a constant waking time our bodies become confused, they don’t know when they should be sleeping and when they should be awake, and this is one of the best ways to lend you body a helping hand. Once you are getting up at the same time each day you should notice that you pretty much start to feel tired at the same time each day due to your body secreting all of the right hormones to send you the cues that you should start thinking about sleep. But how do you decide what time is the best time for you to get up?
Firstly, take a look at this post to find out what type of person you are. Are you a morning person or are you an evening person? You should try to factor this in to your wake up time where there is flexibility to, as it is probably not much good setting a time that is very early in the morning if you are more of an evening person. However, employment may dictate your wake up time in which case, short of looking for a new job that starts later, you may just need to suck it up. However, you may find that you become more of a morning person over time.
Secondly, you should take a look at an average week for your lifestyle, do you work? Do you have children that you need to get up an ready for school? The best advice is to pick the earliest possible time you need to be up and stick to it. This time should ideally be 90 minutes to 2 hours before you need to be at work if you do work, or before you have to be mentally on the ball for anything else. I’ll give you an example –
The first thing I have to do in the mornings is get my children up for school. They usually get up at around 7am. Knowing that there is no hope in hell of having a shower and fixing my mug once they are up (or it would be a massive rush which kind of goes against the grain of controlling fibromyalgia), I know that I need to get up before that point. I start work at 10am on weekdays and 8am on weekends. I have therefore made my wake up time 6.15am. On a weekday this gives me enough time to get myself up and accept the fact that morning has come (I am not a morning person) before my little larks are awake full of the joys of spring, and by the time they do I am usually over my morning sulk. On a weekend this is plenty of time to get myself up and out the door to make the journey to work, be there with a little time to spare and not feel stressed before I even get to work because I have been rushing.
Honestly, doing this has been one of the biggest things in turning my sleep around, with some frustrating exceptions. As I’ve always said, my sleep isn’t perfect but it is a million times better than it was before I started paying more attention to my sleep hygiene. Also, this is a nice gentle way of making a change without the use of medication which is important to me.
For those of you that are new to these posts I would encourage you to ready the first four posts before embarking on making this change –
Lastly I would like to add that this advice is not just aimed at fibromyalgia warriors, but anybody who make be struggling with sleep disturbances.
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This post along with many more inspirational posts than mine can be found at The Fibro Blogger Directory