After Thanksgiving, people are in a holiday mood, consumed with shopping, traveling, and party celebrations. This may affect health in some if they eat the wrong foods, become sleep deprived, drink excessively or stay up late too many nights for too many days. Many middle-aged women are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic fatigue symptoms or have fibromyalgia. The following list provides some helpful tips to prevent the exacerbation of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms during the holiday season.
1.Start sleeping longer just prior to the start of the holidays. Try to go to bed a half an hour to an hour earlier so that there is no sleep deprivation and exacerbation of symptoms even if you have had one or two late nights out. The key is to avoid deprivation or a sleep debit, thereby preventing worsening of the symptoms.
2.Avoid staying up late at night. After 10 to 11 PM the body gets a second wind and a feeling of a good time so it is tempting to stay up late. Avoid staying up late and not cross the midnight hour. Crossing midnight and staying awake has a relation with fatigue accumulation in the body and worsens chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
3.Sleep hygiene. No fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome patient can improve without good sleep hygiene. This is a key for good health. Many fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue patients are suffering from poor sleep, lack of deep sleep or unrestful sleep. This may even become exacerbated further by staying up late, eating late and drinking during the holiday season. It would be a good idea to avoid drinking or at least minimize it. If one is on medications that interact with alcohol, replace alcoholic beverages with a non-alcoholic drink.
Good sleep hygiene helps control fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms. One should aim to sleep regularly from 10 PM to 6 AM as this has a relation with the body's circadian rhythm and hormonal balance. The number of sleep hours one can sleep before midnight provides a deeper sleep so if one is sleeping by 9 or 10 PM it may provide deep sleep also called N3 sleep. Six hours after midnight may provide enough dream sleep or REM sleep, which is what the body needs, and be up by 6 AM when cortisol is secreted the most and use it for the improvement of health. Normal sleep time is 10 PM to 6 AM. Sleeping outside this normal sleep pattern may affect the quality of sleep and health in some or many patients we have seen in our sleep medicine practice and especially for patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Generally, chronically waking up late, after sun is up (after 6 to 7 AM), may affects fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. If one needs to sleep later than 7 AM then he/she needs to go to bed earlier at night as sleeping past 7 AM is not a restful sleep and affects digestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel, and metabolism. Avoid daytime sleeping or taking naps. This again, will deprive one from a deep sleep at night and promotes weight gain in many. Sleep restriction may be needed in some if there is a lot of sleep interruption, insomnia or waking up multiple times at night. This may also help decrease chronic pain syndrome in some who have been suffering from that.
4.Avoid worsening of insomnia and/or sleep disorders. Many with fibromyalgia have mild to moderate fatigue and some have severe difficulty falling asleep or are suffering from insomnia. Some have sleep apnea and are on a CPAP or BiPAP machine, have restless leg syndrome or peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, etc., and these can become exacerbated by holiday stress, inconsistent bedtimes and wake times as well as lack of sleep. Good holiday planning, adequate travel time, selecting healthy foods and eating in moderation as well as avoiding drinking may help.
Based on research in insomnia patients, improvement of sleep hygiene, sleep restriction and behavioral changes work best for patients with chronic insomnia rather than drug therapy.
5.Avoid worsening of chronic lung disease. Many chronic fatigue syndrome patients and/or fibromyalgia patients are suffering from bronchial asthma, postnasal drip, GERD, environmental allergies, COPD, chronic lung infections, etc. They should have a rescue inhaler or nebulizer handy and use it if needed. Make sure you know the correct technique of inhaler and/or nebulizer use. In spite of using an inhaler or nebulizer for many years, many patients do not know how to use them correctly. If you do not know or are unsure how to use your inhaler or nebulizer correctly, it will be a good idea to learn. Keep a log of the your medication usage and peak flow meter if you are using it; keeping track of when you use it, the frequency of use and the symptoms associated with it. Make a plan of learning about the individual disease one has and how to control it. Create a routine and make an emergency plan with your family so that if your condition is exacerbated they will know how it will be handled.
Keeping a good log of your symptoms with a diary and following up with your healthcare professional helps you to learn about your own disease and helps your doctor or the health care professional assisting you. The better you are at keeping a log, the better subjective and objective ideas your healthcare professional has about you and your perspective of the disease and what you would like to achieve. The same is true for the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue for the pain, sleep symptoms, mood swings and overall sense of wellbeing.
Best wishes and happy holidays…