We all love to use the expression “sleeping like a baby”. But when was the last time you woke up and felt like you had a wonderful, refreshing and restful sleep?
Even in otherwise healthy people, many 21st Century lifestyle choices, which are meant to make our lives easier, are destroying our sleep quality. TVs in the bedroom, hand held devices constantly buzzing and ringing, late night phone calls, work emails at bedtime, alcohol, caffeinated drinks and preservative filled food are some of the culprits. Understanding our sleeping needs is the starting point for change.
The combination of unhelpful lifestyle factors with stress, anxiety and excessive fatigue can fuel a cycle of sleep disruption which can become an established pattern of behaviour. Once established this sort of pattern can be very difficult to overcome. Sometimes strategies to try and break the cycle can make things worse before they get better. The pitfall here is to discontinue helpful strategies before they have had time to work. So persistence with these helpful strategies is key to success.
Quality versus Quantity
Sleep disruption is common in fatigue spectrum illnesses but the nature of the sleep disruption is very variable. A commonly held misconception is that if we are tired we should sleep more. Whilst this works for people who genuinely are achieving too little sleep, in general, symptoms of fatigue are not relieved by increasing sleep quantity. In fact it is more likely for excessive sleep to worsen fatigue and fuel the fatigue cycle. This happens by reducing sleep quality, creating a “jet lag” type problem. It can also even reduce physical fitness level over time. This can happen when postural activity is replaced by lying down for a few more hours each day. This adaptation, if prolonged, can cause significant loss of physical stamina and strength, muscle weakness and pain. As the skeletal muscles support the skeleton, prolonged immobility through excessive rest or excessive sleep can result in severe muscle and bone pain. Pain itself is very disruptive to sleep quality and so a vicious cycle can emerge.
Poor quality or too little sleeps is also very destructive to health and well-bei
For more information about how to optimise your sleep quality check out my “Home Truths about Sleep” article.