It’s very easy to become anxious about one’s sleep patterns. How often do we hear someone talking about how they “can’t sleep”? Actually, how often do we, ourselves, say those words? I know I used to talk about lack of sleep (maybe that should say “complain about”) quite often.
You might think that sleep, or the lack thereof, would be high on my list of grumbles, but, actually, it isn’t. Lack of restorative sleep is a well-known symptom of Fibromyalgia. Luckily, I don’t seem to have that particular problem: when I sleep I am refreshed by it, even if I sleep for only a few hours overnight.
In the past, stress has greatly affected my sleeping, but not always in the way you might think. There have been just a few occasions where a sudden stressful event has caused me to become overwhelmingly tired and to sleep deeply for many hours. I think it was my brain’s way of escaping whatever awful thing was happening. It was always strange as the events were of a kind that one might imagine would make sleep impossible. As I say, that happened rarely, more usually I would struggle to sleep. (My late husband would sometimes deliberately bore me to sleep, if I was having a rough time of things, by talking about a subject that interested him but had the opposite effect on me. Most times it worked like a dream!)
Over the past four or five years, I have realised that worrying about the amount of sleep I have is pointless. I believe that if one begins to actually worry about sleep, the whole problem grows exponentially. When I am going through a period of disturbed sleep, I simply accept it. It is a benefit of Fibromyalgia [yes, really, there is a benefit!] that I can sit in an armchair, with my legs up, and fall asleep. In fact, it’s not particularly unusual for me to fall asleep more easily in the chair than in bed! So, if I am lying in bed awake, I am quite likely to get up and go downstairs. I might have a cup of coffee, do some knitting or sewing or, perhaps, watch TV. Sometimes I will fall asleep in the chair, or on the sofa, and at other times I’ll go back to bed. The one thing I won’t do is worry about it.
Obviously, my situation means that I am able to leave the sleep to sort itself out without it causing me too many problems. I no longer go to work and I have no dependants, so my time is my own. I am very lucky to be in that position, unlike so many other Fibro Warriors who have partners, children and homes to organise. However, please don’t think that I take my good fortune for granted. I have had some truly awful times in my life and long ago reached the point where I learned to enjoy and appreciate every good time that came along.