How can you fix insomnia?

Ha if I knew that I’d be a millionaire!! Now here’s the thing; Fibromyalgia causes insomnia and insomnia is one of many drivers in increasing fibromyalgia symptoms. I once read an article about some controlled tests that were performed on ‘healthy’ volunteers; they were kept awake or continuously awoken over several days and then tested how they felt mentally and physically whilst also performing cognitive tests, all of the volunteers showed symptoms of fibromyalgia, even down to increased levels of pain. 
I go through periods of insomnia and I track my progress with a Fitbit. I actually only used to sleep 3-4 hours a day until I established healthier pre sleep activities and then I increased that average to 5-6 hours, I will go into that in more detail in a second. But then insomnia creeps back in and my average drops back down to 3-4 hours. Read more here 

You’re probably wondering what I did differently to help me sleep? These are what I can remember:-

  • Reduced caffeine intake to 1 cup a day (I’ve gone back to 2is this why I now cannot sleep?)
  • I quit drinking alcohol
  • I never eat within 3 hours of going to sleep
  • I have a warm bath with magnesium flakes every night before bed
  • I take a vitamin super supplement each night that includes melatonin, chamomile and 5htp amongst others
  • I undertake some form of exercise 4/5 times a week either yoga or my power plate, yes even when I feel rubbish, mind over matter
  • I practise meditation daily, especially at night (now this has most definitely slipped off my radar just before bed, I need to start doing it before bed again)
  • I wear UV glasses when it gets dark to cut out the blue light from the tv and my phone
  • I drink 2-3 litres of water a day but never 90 minutes before bed
  • My bedroom is kept cool at around 19 degrees maximum
  • My bedroom is completely dark with blackout curtains
  • I wear earplugs for complete quiet
  • I quit taking medication every night for insomnia
  • Reduced consumption of chemicals by using organic
  • Reduced consumption of non natural foods, do not underestimate the effects of a poor diet!!

Now around 3 weeks ago I started to feel ill like I had some kind of virus, it wasn’t a cold or flu (thankfully my immune system always fights these off plus I take a super supplements with 21 different vitamins in). Ever since I had this short lasting virus I have not slept for more than 2-4 hours a night and this has set off many fibromyalgia symptoms;

  • Headaches
  • Restless legs
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle aches and stiffness (like having the flu coming on)
  • Mood swings
  • IBS
  • Irritability
  • Pins and needles or burning on my skin all over
  • Cognitive issues; memory and concentration issues
  • And one of the worst; fatigue which I feel like I’ve got a constant hangover, coming down with flu type feeling
  • Depression

All this just because I cannot sleep!!

It’s a vicious circle as sleep deprivation increases symptoms of fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia causes insomnia. Due to having a near miss in my car I even asked my doctor for a couple of sleeping tablets, but they did not work ­čśé, I have to laugh.

So what should I do, give in, quit, start feeling sorry for myself? No, that won’t solve anything. I will tackle this problem like I do every other problem, by being practical. The solution does NOT lie in regular meds again, it lies within me. I just need to figure this out. I’m going to cut down my caffeine to one a day at 6.30am, stop watching tv half hour before bed and do some meditation/mindfulness yoga and when I cannot sleep I am going to start getting up and meditating rather than tossing and turning in bed all night.

The hardest thing about having insomnia is not being able to sleep in my own bed as I keep my husband awake ­čśŽ

If you read this and can relate don’t give up, don’t resort to meds as that’s just a bandaid, use them sparingly and take a long look at your daily activities and lifestyle as the key to removing insomnia will be in there somewhere.

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Fibromyalgia, Insomnia and Depression

If you don’t sleep well, have you ever noticed how sad you feel the next day when you have fibromyalgia?  Every little thing that doesn’t go my way is like the end of the world.  I hate everyone that doesn’t have this condition and I don’t have any interest in doing anything.

The thing is with this condition it’s like it amplifies everything; emotions, pain, light, sound, everything.  It’s like I’ve forgotten how to laugh at things.  

Constant insomnia is very bad for your mind and body especially with fibromyalgia, not only can it cause your mood to dip but it can increase nom specific pain, tingling, restless legs, body temperature regulation and it steals your sense of humour.


I’ve tried meditating today and I can’t sit still as I have restless legs which I also have in my arms too.  so I went for a walk to see if I could use mindfulness techniques as I was walking, it did help.  I came back with a clear head.

Positive affirmation we also a great way to snap out of the doom and gloom thinking.  But out loud don’t just say it in your head!!  Sat out loud:-

  • I am getting healthier
  • I am happy
  • I love my body 
  • I love me
  • I am loved
  • I am improving every day

I am sure you can think of many more?

So tonight it’s time to have a red hot Magnesium bath, do some gentle mindfulness yoga and meditate in the best position I can even if that’s sitting up, moving it standing!

Diet, lifestyle and fibromyalgia insomnia

Here’s my theory, does your diet and lifestyle aggravate fibromyalgia?  Does what you eat and drink stimulate the nervous system and keep you awake at night?  Does not exercising affect sleep?  Does your mindset affect your sleep?  If you answered no to any of these then I would bet you a months wages that it is true, all of it!

I have eaten a largely Paleo based diet for a number of years now, way before I developed fibromyalgia, but I still regularly drank alcohol at weekends.  I gave up regular exercise after my back operation 2 1/2 years ago and tried and quit the gym 3 times with a doctors letter (I didn’t know I had fibromyalgia do thought I was injuring my back further).

I gave up my beloved hypnotherapy hobby as I did not have the energy and my mental health went into crisis mode.  Believe me I hit rock bottom many times! Even begging the doctor to see a Psychologist.

I could not sleep, felt like I had flu, my spinal fusion was hurting like hell and I was so stiff in a morning I had a year off sick in 3 years added together!  I used most of my annual leave to cover up my health problems.

I am sure many of you can relate to the above.  Fibromyalgia is not as complicated as some people make it out to be (Your General Practitioner).  It is a problem with our nervous systems and what affects our nervous systems? Everything! That’s what.  There is no cure, quick fix it’s all down to an approach to life and that means learning new ways to live.  I know what I’m talking about i live with this every day I just could not see it until the last 2 months through research and talking to others I have seen the light.

Fibromyalgia interrupts our sleep and sleep deprivation makes fibromyalgia symptoms worse, so how can WE help ourselves?  

Have you ever kept a food and drink diary and looked into what we eat and drink? Do you still drink several cups of caffeine a day, use cows milk?  Drink alcohol, use sugar? Eat convenience foods?  Skip meals, eat sweets, crisps, cakes and eat everything out of a packet that you shove into the oven or worse a microwave?  I used to.  Here’s what I do now:-

  • I switched to organic (where possible) 
  • I eat plenty of fresh veg, I limit fruit due to the sugar content.  
  • I don’t drink cows milk, who ever decided that drinking another animals milk is good for you?  Calcium is in many other products.  I use alternatives.
  • Ditch caffeine or cut down to one a day, first thing.
  • Ditch sugar, one of the most addictive substances known to man. I use a tiny amount of organic honey in smoothies only.
  • We eat mostly (I’m not a saint) fresh home cooked food.  I guess now you might be thinking I don’t have time to cook?  Make time.  
  • Invest in a slow cooker and get out of bed earlier.  
  • Batch cook, refrigerate and freeze leftovers and make your own TV dinners.
  • Throw away the microwave and use the oven, I did.  Microwaves make us lazy and I don’t think it’s particularly healthy to warm up food with a microwave, have you read how they work?
  • Get a blender and make breakfast the night before
  • Make your own cereal bars or buy organic snacks for when you’re ‘on the go’
  • Don’t eat within 2 hours of going to bed
  • Eat slowly and mindfully, enjoy your food, don’t just wolf it down.
  • Eat smaller portions 
  • Eat every 3 hours to stop yourself from feeling dizzy
  • Ditch white carbs, over processed junk!
  • Ditch processed food full stop
  • Don’t eat anything with ingredients you would never add to home cooked food.
  • Keep takeaways to a monthly treat and go somewhere where the food quality is high standard
  • Stay away from McDonalds, KFC and fast food joints
  • Pub grub is a no no unless home cooked if not they should be avoided unless you want to feel ill!  Ask yourself how sluggish you feel after one!

Remember years ago when your grandmother used to cook, would she go to the shop and throw in processed food into the oven then just throw it on a plate and eat it, no of course not!

This is how my sleep used to look from my Fitbit, absolutely terrible and yes I still went to work but I felt very ill.


A few lifestyle changes, which I will come into another time and changing my diet and this is how it’s changed this week


I haven’t slept 7 hours this year!!

Anything over 4 hours and 30 minutes is a celebration.  Am I cured?  Of course not but no doctor can help you get here.  I’ve tried every sleeping tablet going, Amitryptyline worked for 6 weeks then it stopped and it took me 2 months to wean off them and not I felt ill.

Start looking into your lifestyle, diet choices.  Hey you may even drop those extra pounds you’ve been carrying.  I manage to offload a stone in weight without even hitting the gym regularly.  A big part of aiding sleep also has to be exercise, if you sit round all day and don’t tire yourself out you will not get restful sleep.  But I’ll touch on that next time.  Read more about what YOU can do to help yourself here 

Chronic fatigue and feeling angry

I average around 4 hours sleep every night which when I get in the number 5 is a cause for celebration in this house ­čĺÉ. I have a pretty good routine:-

  • A hot bath with magnesium flakes and organic bubbles
  • No tv for a minimum of 1 hour before bed.
  • If I use my phone to update my Facebook page and blog I wear my uv glasses.
  • I only have one coffee before 7am
  • I don’t drink alcohol
  • I keep my room well ventilated with a temperature of around 19 degrees
  • My curtains are black and my walls painted dark
  • I wear ear plugs so no noise can wake me up
  • I sleep naked so I am not restricted by clothes
  • I never eat at least 2 hours before bed
  • I mindfully meditate daily before bed and every other day I undertake mindfulness yoga 
  • I have a lavender plant in my bedroom and place some fresh inside my pillow each night
  • I don’t drink water too close to bed so as not to wake in the night for the bathroom 
  • I have no switched on electrical items in the bedroom

I think that I have a pretty strict routine before bed and I really do feel that this has helped me wake up over the past 3 months feeling more refreshed than I have done in the previous 2 years.  But when it gets to about the 5th day of only have 3-4 hours sleep 15-20 hours in total over a working week I start to lose the will to live.  I cannot concentrate, I’m tired, have no energy, my cognitive behaviour starts to suffer.  I hate everyone and everything.  The fake smiles I have to put on at work, people asking me if I’m ok and I nod and say yeah I’m great (when all I want to do is shout out loud NO I AM FUCKING NOT!).

I do know that if I could ramp up my exercise and tire myself out more I’d sleep better, but how can I do that when I exercise then I literally struggle to go to work.  Pacing ah yes good old pacing.  I’m logging down what I do, how I feel etc but each day is different from the next which makes things a little difficult to track.  Some days I can sit for hours others minutes before I get pain.

I feel like I’m having some sort of mental crash, possibly from coming off citalopram and Amitryptyline?  Delayed reaction?  I’ve been off them 2 weeks.

Does anyone know of how I can get more sleep without resorting to regular medications?  Am I missing some vital information?

Patience with our ‘wild minds’

I have been reading chapter 4 of my Mindfulness for Health book by Vidyamala Burch (read the reviews here)  about how our mind wanders whilst we try to meditate and why it does the same when we are in pain.  If we try to force the mind to be still it will kick and resist and we get exhausted by the struggle, if however we let it roam and follow it with our awareness, it will settle down of it’s own accord.  Our minds struggle as we oppose it, if we are patient and focus our awareness in the minds struggle, then it will become calm.  We can then refocus on the breath or body and the mind starts to get curious about the object of you refutation.  It will become gently calm, yet alert and vibrant.


The other reason why our minds refuse to settle, especially if our bodies are in pain or highly stressed while we meditate.  It is natural for the mind to avoid unpleasant sensations in the body.  It will want to distract especially after chronic pain sufferers are told ‘keep yourself busy, and distract yourselves’ only to stop and be in agony!!  We try to avert the pain.  Pay attention to your thoughts, see how it bounces around and drags up past troubling memories and then exploits them in the future, creating stress and anxiety.  Just notice them and give these thoughts and feelings names, but not judging them and then coax your mind back to the breath or your body and continue meditating. 


Think of your thoughts as passing clouds in a beautiful blue sky.  You notice them and let them go and the blue sky is always there. 

Fibromyalgia and supplements

It took a long time for me to get diagnosed with Fibro, over 2 years after my operation.  That’s pretty fast according to research as the average is usually around 5.  Not surprising really as Fibromyalgia is a nervous system disorder and reliable positive tests for this condition has literally only just been tested…….  But even though there are a set of symptoms that we all feel; tender points, more pain in weak spots, extreme insomnia, skin tingling and burning and increased sensitivity to pain and psychological stresses plus exhaustion, there are also things that some get and others don’t, I don’t get IBS, but I eat an 80% natural diet?  Does that make a difference?  I think so? I’ve had migraines so severe I’ve ended up in A&E!  Why I stupidly drank 3 cans of coke at a party (something I never drink) others don’t.  I also get either overheated when it’s warm and get raynaud’s syndrome, others don’t etc etc.

There is one thing I have read over and over, we seem to have certain vitamin deficiencies; I was diagnosed with low vitamin D and an underactive thyroid and I put on 14 pounds (I don’t use KG ­čśé) in a year.  I started using D3 with calcium at a high dosage and a thyroid supplement:-


Within 6 weeks both levels were back to normal, I also started exercising by walking more and ate a high protein diet and I lost the weight in 3 months.  I also take vitamin E, CQ10, B1 and Cumin or Turmeric.

But there are many vitamins that we would benefit from taking, don’t underestimate the power of vitamins just because they are prescribed.  Read more here.  Most vitamins are more powerful than medication and have either no or minimal side effects but you just check with your doctor if taking medication.

I took the decision to ditch all regular meds as I was sick of the side effects plus no painkiller worked and I was now on Oramorph!!  You get used to painkillers and they stop working, they did me anyway.

I signed up for these:-


For those of you that have done you own research the content of these two supplements are the best I have ever seen!  I already take 6 of these vitamins at a high expense.  You can read here for more info. Read what each supplement does.   Now I’m not stupid I don’t look at this through rose coloured spectacles and think it’s a cure, there is no cure,  but I know a damn good supplement when I see one.  I have to come off 2 anti-depressants though as the sleep aid has 5-htp in it (serotonin) but hey I’m game, sign me up.  

I’ve researched this stuff to death and no one  has reported bad side effects apart from the usual ‘it doesn’t work’ but you have to give these things time and slowly increase up to the optimum dosage, if it says 2 X twice a day take 1 a day then 1 X 2 times a day and so on. Plus you have to give it at least 6 months to notice a difference. 

I have to order it from the USA but I don’t care and it may cost me ┬ú65 a month for both supplements together but you can’t put a price on good health!

What have I got to lose?  What with mindfulness, healthy eating and drinking, supplementation, exercise and no regular medication I know deep in my heart I will do this.  Plus I’ve took a less stressful path in my career into a role I did 20 years ago, stuff it, I put my health before my career.

I have to, there are other people out there living life to the full with this condition that lost everything including careers, husbands and homes and after years of struggle by making changes to their lifestyles they have done it.  So why can’t I?

Wish me luck and I hope you give me support through the good and the bad times.