It is National bed month 2023 and as someone with several chronic illnesses that have the symptom of fatigue, it means a lot to me! So lets chat about getting better sleep.
Since 1990, March has been dedicated by the Sleep Council as national bed month, a chance to swap tips and tricks of getting a good night sleep. Along with the Sleep Charity, and Bed Advice UK, they want the nation to sleep better and as someone with chronic illnesses I agree!
I have shared here on the blog, as well as on my YouTube channel ways I have found of improving my sleep. But a recent flare of my ME has given me pause to look at how I can improve my bedroom and my bed routine to get an even better night’s sleep.
ME is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but there is a lot more to the illness than just feeling tired. It comes with nausea, shaking, heart palpitations, sore throat, flu-like symptoms as well as sleep disturbances which I always found to be rather ironic.
Having a good sleep is incredibly important when you are dealing with fatigue, and especially when naps and sleep disturbance are regular you have to be comfortable in bed. So, lets talk about how to get the best sleep possible with the symptoms you deal with:
- Bed: Getting a new bed can sometimes be out of reach, but if your mattress is uncomfortable have you thought of getting a new one? Even turning your mattress, which you should do every 6 months or so, can make a big difference. If getting a new mattress is out of your budget, there are mattress toppers, I got mine for a good price from ASDA. They are soft and just lie on top of your mattress and under your under sheet, I have about four on my bed and they make such a difference with my pain levels and help me get comfortable.
- Routine: A good routine at night is important, going to bed at the same time, doing the same things will help you to start to wind down and get into the right frame of mind for a good night sleep. Once I got a good nightly routine I found my ability to drift off to sleep to be so much faster so it does work.
- Hot cocoa: I have a hot drink every night before bed, I need it to take my night meds and it really helps. Chamomile tea, hot chocolate, anything decaffeinated will help calm you especially if taken as part of a routine.
- Supplements: I have always found it hard to get off to sleep, even as a child I would be up late reading or daydreaming, struggling to fall asleep. I have tried a few supplements over the years, but at the moment I take CBD from Holland and Barrett, I get it delivered monthly which works out a lot cheaper and means I never run out. For me, it helps to relax and takes the edge off my pain along with my evening meds so that I can get comfortable easier. There are lots of supplements on the market so speak to your pharmacist about what they suggest and to make sure they will not interfere with prescribed medication.
- Off the phone: I know you have heard this before, but being on your phone, scrolling on social media is never going to help you sleep and if it is something you struggle with, leave you phone in another room. I plug my phone in at night, and though it is beside the bed, it had a night mode that puts it on silent and black and white so it isn’t much use so have a look yours might do the same.
- Exercise: I have a whole playlist of spoonie friendly exercise routines, I find doing a gentle evening routine before bed makes me even more tired. I used to do my exercise in the morning, but it would leave me too tired to do anything else. Even if all you do is have a little stretch on the bed, you will find that it will help you to keep your body moving and get to sleep faster…win win!
- Listen to something: I have struggled with thoughts for a long time, meditation and mindfulness have helped me so much. However, in the still of the night my mind goes crazy with thoughts and it makes it difficult to sleep. So, me and my husband listen to podcasts to fall asleep to and we have them on all night. Maybe what would help you would be an audiobook, or the radio, so long as it is not the TV and it helps you to drift off go for it. You can even buy little speakers that sit under your pillow so only you can hear it while your head is on the pillow. So, don’t be afraid to have a look around and find what works for you.
- Cosy: look at your bedroom, is it tidy, is it clean, has it been decorated in a way that works for you? I moved into my parents old room with my husband because we moved in with mom to look after her. The bedroom has not yet been decorated, but I made sure to replace the furniture with our own, put up pictures and I have plans to do a total redecoration later in the year (that will be up on my YouTube channel). Making your bedroom clean, tidy and cosy with blankets, throw pillows, pretty pictures, whatever you need, will make a difference to your sleep. Once you feel comfortable and relaxed you will sleep better.
- Essential oils: I have a little oil burner, each night I fill it with essential oils and light the candle and the room fills with lovely scents. While we lay in bed, before going to sleep, we breathe them in and it helps us relax and then when we are going to sleep I blow out the candle and spray a sleep spray on the bed clothes. I also sometimes use a body lotion with lavender if I shower or take a bath before bed which is just as helpful. The use of essential oils can be powerful and doesn’t have to cost the earth so shop around in your local chemist you might be surprised what you can find.
I really hope these tips that have actually helped me, will also help you have a better night sleep, and more effective naps as they can be used then as well. This National Bed Month 2023, lets really try and put as much care into how we go to sleep as we would into a child. Sleep is so important especially when you are battling chronic illnesses, and let me know any tips I missed.