Read time 4 minutes
I wish to thank you dear Universe: I am much healthier now than I was then.
A night of good and healthy sleep was all about restoring my nervous and immune system and other proven health benefits until getting diagnosed with a rare disease, Isaacs’ Syndrome (a neuromuscular disorder), and subsequently with chronic conditions like Lyme disease, Glaucoma, and Membranous Glomerulonephritis. Sleep allows our body to rebuild and restore. There are many reasons why it is considered the key to active performance and a tool that works as our energy conservation, repairs tissues, and muscle mechanism, improves brain functionalities, reduces stress levels, and maintains healthy body weight, it is vital to our health in a lot of many ways. I understood the importance of a good night’s sleep when most of the time, I found myself staring at the ceiling wondering when on earth will I dose off and literally stopped taking things for granted.
The life of a rare disease patient starts showing signs of mixed symptoms way before the actual diagnosis is done and I was no different.
And, it was lack of sleep that added to the deteriorating quality of life with additional confusing symptoms like a lack of basic enthusiasm, low energy for hobbies, fatigue, irritation, focus deficiency, and drowsiness throughout the day. For weeks together it left me and my doctors wondering if these symptoms were due to the core diagnosis or prescription induced or lack of sleep. After a thorough discussion of my daily activities, state of mind, food habits, etc. the doctors concluded that I was sleep deficient and should work on the basics of Sleep Hygiene, a terminology used for routines and habits that help healthy sleeping.
I was advised to follow some sleep hygiene factors and keep close track if something changed:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
- Practice relaxation techniques like Yog Nidra before sleep.
- Refrain from having dinner close to bedtime, a gap of at least 2 hours or more is preferred.
- Read a book of interest or do any other activity that tires the mind and forces it to dose off.
- Have a warm water bath.
- No consumption of caffeine-rich products post 4:30 pm to maintain enough gap before bedtime.
- No daytime naps
- A comfortable room temperature and no sleeping directly under the fan as it aggravated muscle pain, tiredness, and cold
Though the above-stated activities did help bring sleep closer however due to Isaacs’ Syndrome, the nervous system was hyperactive with cramps, fasciculations, and twitches which made things quite challenging. – in my attempt to sleep better I discovered some interesting facts:
- On Full Moon Days: especially did Mind-Body Meditation to calm my mind activities before hitting the bed.
- Refrained from certain activities just before bedtime: – having late-night dinners and surfing the internet as it directly impacted my sleep pattern.
- Some physical activities like light stretches or a small walk before sleep was helpful.
- It was difficult to sleep peacefully when my body muscles were extremely exhausted.
- Noticed a reduction in my pain sensations when sleep deprived.
- Considering my metabolic cycle, my preference for having light food worked well.
- A book by Dr. Singh on Acupressure: I pressed a couple of reflex points in the right and left legs and left and right palm (relax centres: nervous system, solar plexus, brain, and pineal) that helped me sleep better.
- l slept and woke up better after changing my mattress.
- Not much use of Air-conditions instead preferred switching it on way before bedtime and opening the windows while sleeping for some fresh circulation of air.
- A lit Diya and some calming scents added comfort to the room ambiance.
I even took some inspiration from an interesting read titled ‘Relax and Win: Championship Performance’ where the writer describes the popular military method which created a routine to help pilots sleep within two minutes. It took six weeks for the pilots to practice, however, the technique worked even when they were in a seated posture with background noises, or after having some coffee. The key was to try successfully clearing the mind of active thoughts for ten seconds and once that’s achieved it would become easy to dose off. The writer found that constant thoughts and movement prevented sleep. To my surprise, the technique did work for me after constant efforts.
Initially, it was putting a lot of effort into something that comes to us naturally, yet it became easier as this system became a part of life. Immediately, post-diagnosis I was a lot dependent on sleeping pills for almost two long years however it definitely felt a lot better after the natural cycle took over. I worked towards creating a schedule that touched upon all aspects like social connectedness, exercise, healthy eating, and adequate rest.
Any effort is a part of our individual preference however sleeping well for me is to be in my comfort zone.
The views expressed above in this article are the author’s own and do not represent any kind of medical advice.