There is a magical period of peace every day in everyone’s life, a brief time when we can completely let go and forget our troubles. This beautiful escape is called sleep. It’s the only time we are completely unaware and able to unplug our brains.
Sleep is one of the most important factors in recharging our bodies and preparing them for the next day. For those who are sick with a chronic illness, good rest can be hard to come by, but it’s not completely impossible. Here are five tips to regulate the body and get a better night of sleep:
1. Expose yourself to sunlight.
There is a system built into our bodies called the circadian rhythm that controls our sleep patterns. Your eyes are like windows, and when natural sunlight enters them, it alerts your brain that it’s daytime so it knows to stay awake. The sun also has a healing effect on our bodies as it delivers vitamin D into our pores. It also helps wear off energy, so that when you lie in bed at night, your body welcomes a good night’s rest. If you are on medication that causes sunlight sensitivity, simply sit in the shade in an outdoor area. Your eyes will still soak up the beaming rays, and fresh air is cleansing for your immune system.
2. Expend your energy.
Some of us are too sick to work, so this leads to staying in the house and focusing on our illness. Our brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily, as well as our bodies. Sometimes, the pain and fatigue levels are too high to get out of bed, but when you have a good day, take 100% advantage. Exercise, stretching, or light walking can help warm up our muscles, mobilize our joints, and tire out the body in a healthy way.
3. Stay away from artificial light before bedtime.
Once the sun goes down and your brain begins to register darkness, it starts producing melatonin to prepare the body for rest. In our current technological era, we are exposed to high amounts of artificial light from the different screens we view every day. This can confuse the brain into thinking it’s daytime, even when it’s night. The best way to avoid this is to stay away from all screens before bedtime. But if you can’t resist, put your phone on night mode, which filters out “blue light.”
4. Try relaxation techniques.
There are many rough days peppered in with the good ones while living a chronic-illness lifestyle. There are so many life-changing moments that shouldn’t stay trapped in our heads. Writing these thoughts out can help us come to some clarity and release any emotions you may be going through. Any form of prayer, meditation, or deep breathing before bed also can put these thoughts at bay. If you suffer from pain at night, ask your spouse or relative to rub relaxing cream on your joints and lay down with a heating pad. I have a shoulder heating pad that has helped me fall asleep many times!
5. Talk to your doctor about medication.
If ALL else fails and it’s just been a really rough day, ask your doctor for something to help you sleep. There are medications that calm anxiety and also can help with sleep. This should not be a permanent method of sleep because an addiction could possibly form, but it’s OK to take once in a while, if your doctor OKs it.
When I don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, my whole body aches; it seems to exacerbate my symptoms. So, I’ve found it so important to be one of the main focuses for healing and having energy for the new day. A strict regimen of all of the above techniques combined should have you sleeping like a baby in no time.
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.