I’ve been finding my fibromyalgia more difficult to manage since the seasons have changed. The switch from warm to cold, and from long days to short days is playing havoc in many ways for me. The cold triggers my pain, the less vitamin D triggers my fatigue and pain, and the dark mornings make it feel almost impossible to wake up (despite being awake for large portions of the night).
The one thing I learnt from last year is that if my sleep goes off, then everything goes off and for me it seems to all pin on how my mornings go. If I spring out of bed at a good time, full of energy, then my morning is less stressful and I carry that through to the rest of my day. I make better food choices and I also sleep much better the next night as I don’t have as many anxieties floating around in my head, I have less pain, and I go to bed feeling content with my day.
If I keep on pressing the snooze button, and roll out of bed groggy and foggy, my mornings do not go well at all, and that horrible feeling of not having a good morning, being snappy with my kids, and not having the energy for my daily walk before work all hang around me like a bad smell. I feel tired all day, too tired to do the things that I know help my fibromyalgia. I often forget to take lunch to work and either don’t eat at all or make poor choices. I then get home, feel terrible, and don’t sleep very well because of the rubbish day I had. My pain increases keeping me awake too.
One thing that I know for a fact helps me to wake up is light. In the summer this is easy as the natural light provided by early sunrises are invigorating and natures way of waking anyone up naturally (see this post for information about sleep cycles). In the darker months there is nothing that gives off natural light so we have to find something else to help us.
Introducing…… the daylight alarm clock!
I’d been toying with buying one for so long but couldn’t bear the expense, but luckily, when talking about it with a friend from work, and it turned out she had one that she wasn’t using, so it’s now my new toy. The one she has leant me is a Philips Lumie.
I was excited but sceptical. Would it really work or would it just annoy me? There was only one way to find out and that was to try it!
I won’t bore you too much with the how it works bit, but in a nutshell you set the alarm for time you want to be awake and it starts to light up the room slowly in the 30 minutes prior to the time you have set. It starts off as a very dim red/amber light and builds up to a blue light (see this post all about the benefits of blue light), to a brightness of your choosing. You can also choose for a nice sound to be played as you wake up, such as wind, sea or birds. The aim is for the light to naturally bring you out of a sleep cycle, instead of being dragged out of deep sleep by your alarm clock, and so avoiding sleep inertia, which is basically that feeling you get when you have been rudely awoken by someone or something and you basically feel punch drunk.
So, I set it up for maximum brightness in the morning and birds. Turns out maximum brightness is a bit hardcore, even for someone who needs light to wake up, and I was waking up about 20 minutes before I wanted to (20 minutes is precious), and so over the last week I have worked out my ideal level to wake up at 6am is 3/4 of the maximum setting. The birds are nice too.
Waking up is definitely more gentle, no more alarm blaring in me ear and waking me up with a jolt, and that feels nice. I am still a bit sleepy when I wake up but I think that is because I’ve been a little naughty and not done all of my sleep hygiene as well as I could have rather than the light not working, so this week I am working on getting that right before I pass judgement.
Once I’m awake things are looking better. I generally get up, open the curtains (even though it is dark outside), make myself some lemon and ginger and just allow myself more time to wake up properly before I get on with my morning. My mornings are now back to being under control, and I’m managing to be more productive with more energy than I had a couple of weeks ago. My morning walks are back, I’m remembering my lunch, and I’m not rushing to the school gates anymore!
Is it as good as a bright summers morning? No. Is it better than waking up to an alarm clock and being dragged from deep sleep part of my sleep cycle? Most definitely! Most importantly, do I feel better when I wake up, is my fibromyalgia more controlled and am I sleeping better? Yes, yes, and yes!
Nothing is going to substitute the light we get on those long summer days, but this is a good compromise and I would strongly encourage you to try it if you suffer like I do in the mornings!
Do you use a daylight alarm clock? what do you think? Is there anyone it hasn’t worked for?
Don’t forget you can find me on social media by clicking the icons to the right of this article if you are on desktop or the bottom if you are on your phone/tablet.