Sleep and CFS
Written by: Rosemary Channin Specialist Practitioner & Wellbeing Coach
A good nights sleep is vital for the body’s systems to heal and repair, yet waking up feeling refreshed in the morning is something that many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E. can only dream about.
It can take half the morning before they feel properly awake, and it is common to have a 3pm ‘slump’, a sign of adrenal exhaustion. Some sufferers feel at their best in the evening, and this is when they tend to get chores done or use up the little energy they feel they have gained. It can be a real struggle for them to get to sleep, particularly if their mind cannot switch off. This can also lead to insomnia.
What I have described here is called day-night reversal. In a healthy person, cortisol levels are at their highest in the morning, peaking at around 8am. This provides the ‘get up and go’ feeling which CFS/M.E. sufferers lack. Their cortisol peaks in the evening, making them feel energised instead of ready to wind down for bed.
In addition, the adrenal glands are often very over-active (sympathetic dominance), as they tend to become highly sensitive. This makes people react to everything around them – the smallest sounds, lights seem brighter, tiny changes feel overwhelming. If you are on constant high alert, it is very difficult to fall asleep, or to achieve a good quality deep sleep.
With all this going on, it is almost impossible for the body to heal and repair. Sleep-related problems are one of the first things I address with my clients so that they can begin to regain their energy, experience refreshing sleep throughout the night, and get their hormones back in balance.
If sleep is an issue for you, I hope you will benefit from my 6 Top Tips for a better nights sleep:
6 Top Tips for a Better Nights Sleep
- The best quality sleep comes before midnight – it is when vital health and repair hormones are produced. So, aim to be in bed before 10pm, and have a regular bedtime routine
- Adjust the temperature – if you’re too hot or cold, your body won’t be able to relax properly as it will be trying to regulate its temperature
- No gadgets! Electronic devices such as phones and tablets drain our energy, disrupt brainwave patterns and make it hard to switch off
- Make sure the room is as dark as possible – blackout curtain linings are great, or an eye mask works well too. This encourages melatonin production, which is necessary for sleep
- Peace and quiet – use ear plugs if necessary
- Eat a protein based snack 1.5-2 hours before bed e.g. nuts, seeds, soya yoghurt (not sweetened). This helps to regulate blood sugar levels – if they become too low you’ll wake up in the night.
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