How is everyone getting on? As summer warms up (here in the UK, there has been a recent heatwave), I am reading more and more about how the heat affects many of us with chronic illness. I personally didn’t struggle with the heat until about 5 years ago – now I am all about the shade, fans, Magicool and long, cold drinks (G&Ts preferably!)
The heat has recently been affecting my sleep. Rhiann from My Brain Lesion and Me has some brilliant advice on how to keep cool in this article here – I have also found that a hot water bottle filled with iced water can also help.
I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times, but the hot weather plus my ongoing saga of foot cramps waking me up in pain in the early hours of the morning really are a recipe for a completely broken night’s sleep. I am awaiting a call back from an MS nurse to discuss this, so fingers crossed something like a change in meds might help.
I find that I go to bed full of good intentions for the following day; I will try and do some exercise, I will blog more regularly, I will take the time to prep some healthy food…. but it all goes down the pan as soon as I wake up exhausted. I end up having (too much) coffee to try and wake me up so that I can be the productive and efficient Mum that I need to be, making packed lunches, preparing breakfast and organising the kids so that they are ready for school on time. Then as soon as they are out the door, I plonk onto the sofa for my own breakfast and end up spending way too much time scrolling through social media instead of getting on with the activities that I had planned. I can always tell when 2pm comes along – I don’t even need to check a clock – without fail, no matter what I have been doing in the morning, 2pm is when my body says, ‘stop’. The frustrating thing is, even if I have managed to have a good night’s sleep and wake feeling rested, it is still the same. It is almost as if my body can now only go so long being awake before my batteries run out – and the only way to recharge them is by having a sleep.
I am sure to many people without chronic illness, the idea of having a nap every day sounds blissful; I know it did to me before I got ill. But I find it frustrating that I can’t function without a nap. It impacts on my ability to make plans for the afternoon and to easily pick my kids up from school. But, hey ho, if having a nap makes me a (slightly) more productive and amiable person to be around in the evening, needs must.
I sometimes find it tricky to nap – if I know that I need to be up by a particular time, for example, I spend so long just trying to get to sleep that my alarm goes off before I have switched off. So I am trying to get better at just ‘resting’, without the pressure to sleep. If sleep happens, great. If not, at least I have recharged somewhat.
Some tips on napping/resting:
- Embrace the nap – whereas initially it felt like I had ‘given in’ to my MS, now I see that nap/rest time is a sort of haven – it gives me the chance to feel like I can function. I know that my need to nap is due to illness and I need to do everything I can to feel better.
- Try and keep your environment conducive to napping/resting – quiet, the right temperature and not too bright.
- Stick to a napping routine if possible – this can help you plan your day and, just like babies and toddlers, having a daily nap can help you make it through the rest of your day feeling a bit more awake.
- If sleep is not going to happen you could try: listening to soothing music whilst lying down, breathing slowly in and out, meditation or gentle stretching – anything to slow down and focus on YOU.
- Work out what kind of nap works for you – short 10-20 minute naps a couple times a day? One longer one? I know that although I feel like I can continue sleeping for hours when I wake from a nap, I function best when I stick to an hour or so – otherwise, it interferes with my sleep at night.
It can be difficult fitting in a napping routine when you have to go to work or have small children at home. I am off work at the moment and my kids are both at school, but I remember how tricky it is to sometimes fit rest times into a busy schedule. Does anyone have any tips or experiences for when naps are difficult to fit into your routine? I would love to hear.