There are many ways to fight chronic fatigue naturally. The best way is simply to get more sleep. I know, not always that simple right. Many people experience chronic fatigue and unfortunately those who have fibromyalgia are usually all too familiar with this symptom. Still, for many people out there, it is difficult to find natural remedies and treatment options.
I personally suffer from insomnia, so I’ve done a fair bit of research on this topic over the years. Sleeping pills have been proven effective for many people, however, there are always side effects and the possibility of dependence. I am not suggesting you discount their use entirely, I would only like to mention some natural alternatives. Here you will find tips on how to get a better sleep at night and fight fatigue during the day.
The importance of sleep
Just like eating healthy and getting enough exercise, we also need the proper amount of sleep every night. Not getting enough can lead to weight gain, loss of concentration (fibro fog), increased inflammation, depression and increase your chances of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The two basic types of sleep are Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. There are three different stages of non-REM sleep.
Your body will first go through three stages of non-REM sleep, the last one being ‘deep sleep.’ During this deep sleep phase, everything slows down, your heart rate, your breathing, even your brain waves. It is difficult to wake someone when they are in deep sleep. During deep sleep, our body’s release human growth hormones and begin the healing process. Your body repairs muscle tissue, organs and the immune system.
Remember that vivid dream you had the other night. This likely took place during REM sleep when most dreaming occurs. This is also when brain waves become more active, breathing and heartbeat increase and although eyelids remain closed, there is much rapid eye movement taking place. REM sleep usually occurs about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. REM sleep is important for memory storage, helping us learn throughout the day as well as overall cognitive functioning. ‘Restorative sleep’ consists of both REM and deep sleep. So, how much sleep do we require? Most individuals require at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Too much pain
One of the many benefits of getting enough sleep is that your body and mind go through a repairing and healing process. This is something that those with fibromyalgia need more than anyone. However, it’s not always easy to obtain. Fibromyalgia patients often experience chronic pain which can negatively affect sleep. Without that restorative sleep, the symptoms of fatigue coupled with muscle, joint and tissue pain only get worse. Memory, stress levels and the ability to concentrate are also affected.
According to the National Sleep Foundation 65% of those with no pain reported good to very good sleep quality, while 45% with acute pain and only 37% with chronic pain reported the same. And those who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems that significantly affect their lives. Some suggest good sleep hygiene practices for a better night sleep. If pain worsens, however, or is greatly affecting your ability to fall asleep every night, you may need to speak with your doctor about other forms of pain management. For information on natural ways of reducing pain, visit by blog on Natural Fibromyalgia Pain Relief.
What is Sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a set of habits you do every night that should eventually help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and ensure a better over all quality of sleep. Keep in mind, however that you may not see results immediately, the key is to do them every night. The good news is, good sleep hygiene can be very easy to practice and can make a real positive change, not only sleep and how you feel the next morning.
- Be sure you are sleeping in a dark room, or use a sleep mask
- Try ear plugs to block out any noise
- Try to create a consistent sleep and wake up schedule
- Exercise during the day may help you sleep but exercise too close to bed time may do the opposite.
- Stay away from stimulants at night such as caffeine
- Getting enough water during the day is important, but not too close to bed time. Too many trips to the bathroom can interfere with your sleep.
- Try not to eat too much right before bed or consume things that will give you heart burn, bloat or indigestion.
- Develop a bed time routine that works for you and stick to it night after night.
What about a melatonin supplement?
I hear many people talk about how they use melatonin for insomnia. This supplement is frequently marketed as a safe and natural sleep aid. But does it work? Actually the answer is no. Yes, our body’s naturally produce it, but that does not mean it is safe to take as a supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain and putting more of this hormone into your body can have dangerous effects. Experimenting with hormone therapy is not something I would take lightly.
Melatonin controls your circadian rhythms, which is your internal 24-hour clock. This is why your body will produce more melatonin later in the evening and at night in response to the increasing darkness. Still, it is not a sleep hormone and there is little to no evidence that it actually helps induce sleep or allows you to stay asleep longer.
Furthermore, your body already produces this hormone naturally. Increasing this amount may interfere with your body’s own ability to produce it in the future, causing more harm than good. If you still really want to give this a try, as least talk to a trusted health care professional first and take the minimum required dosage. Personally, I believe that there are a lot of other options out there that are far more effective and safer to use.
Tips for insomnia
Many people, including those who have fibromyalgia, also suffer from insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some people, the sleep hygiene habits mentioned above help, but there are also other things that may be worth a try.
A white noise machine. White noise machines are great for blocking out background noise and usually sound like static on a radio. The sounds on these machines vary though and usually come with alternative noises such as sounds of waves crashing against the shore, a camp fire or the sound of rain falling in a forest. The sound you choose simply depends on your preference. Music on the other hand does not drown out sounds as well, thus does not seem to produce the same effect.
The Dodow sleep Light. This sleep devise emits a blue light onto the ceiling. The idea is to breath in and out as the circle expands and shrinks, thus slowing your breathing. By slowing your breathing and giving you something to focus on other than the million other thoughts that may be going through your head at night, it’s easier to fall asleep. There are two settings to choose from; eight minutes and twenty minutes. Afterwards, the device will automatically shut itself off.
Herbal tea. Most of us know that chamomile tea has a tranquilizing effect and is very beneficial as a natural sleep aid. While this is true, chamomile can also do much more than that, such as lower anxiety, stress and reduce inflammation. It is very beneficial for everyone, but particularly for those with fibromyalgia. Other great herbal bedtime teas worth a try include: Valerian root, lavender and passionflower.
Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy may also help to reduce anxiety, stress and help induce sleep. You can try experimenting with different essential oils. A great way to use them is in a warm bath so you also get the benefit of the warm water to help relax and sooth sore muscles. Be sure to dilute the oils first in a carrier oil, especially when applying directly to skin. I use lavender often, it helps me fall asleep and it smells wonderful. Peppermint is great for awakening the senses first thing in the morning. For more great uses for essential oils visit my blog Fibromyalgia and Aromatherapy
Naturally boost energy and fight fatigue throughout the day
Energy snacks. Sometimes we may need a little pick me up in the form of a nourishing snack. The trick is to consume healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, fiber and very little sugar. Try some apple slices with cheese or peanut butter or a few almonds or sunflower seeds. Try to avoid soft drinks or snack bars that contain too much sugar, you will only experience a crash later and avoid caffeine after 2:00 pm as it may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.
Cold water. Your body subsists seven to nine hours every night without water and is releasing toxins while you sleep. The first thing you should do when you wake up is drink a big glass of water. While many suggest warm water because it’s better absorbed by the body, there is nothing like drinking super-chilled water to feel refreshed and awake. For extra detoxing benefits try adding a quarter of lemon to your glass or water bottle. When you hit that mid-day slump, simply splashing cold water on your face, may be enough help you feel more rejuvenated.
Ginseng. This product is natural and a great way to perk up mid-day, boost mental clarity and brain function. Some other great benefits to consuming ginseng include the following: stress reduction, weight loss, diabetes management, increase in sex drive, improves hair and skin, eases stomach upset and it has even been shown to help prevent cancer. What’s not to like! So, enjoy a cup of ginseng tea or talk to your doctor about adding a ginseng supplement to your diet.
Music. Listening to upbeat music throughout the day can not only help boost energy levels but can also improve your mood. Play your favorite music in the car on the way to work and if you can, during your breaks. Sometimes listening to soft classical music is a great to reduce stress and unwind after a busy day. Just play some tunes and enjoy!
Sunshine. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but sometimes we just don’t get enough sunlight. If you are not getting enough sunshine, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health including aiding in the body’s absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can also have a huge impact on our energy levels and mood.
The best part is, you don’t even require a lot of exposure to get the benefits, only 5 mins of sun exposure will do the trick. Try a light walk outside in the sun for the added exercise benefit, which is also a great energy booster. Avoid walking for too long outdoors if the weather is too hot or humid, however, as this can make you feel more tired. Because we obtain very little Vitamin D from our food, you may also want to consider asking your doc about a daily vitamin D supplement.
Power nap. Yep, if you are able to, there is nothing wrong with grabbing a quick power nap to boost your energy and fight fatigue. The trick is not to let yourself fall into deep sleep in order to avoid feel groggy when you wake up; after all the whole point is to feel refreshed and energized. Try to keep the nap to no more than 20 mins. Sleeping for too long during the day may also disrupt you sleep later that night.
Have a good night
The best way the fight chronic fatigue naturally is to find something that can help you get a better sleep, whether it’s something that addresses pain or insomnia. It may take some research and a discussion with a health care professional to find the right medication, supplement or treatment. For some it may be as simple as practicing good sleep hygiene every night and setting a routine, while others may require more.
Even so, we are all going to have days that require more effort to get up and going or something that gives us that little extra boost of energy mid-day. I hope this blog has given you some helpful suggestions on ways you can improve your sleep and fight chronic fatigue naturally throughout the day. Do you have any ideas? Has something worked for you in the past? Please feel free to leave comments in the section below, they are always welcome! And thanks for visiting!