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.

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?

What do I do to avoid Fibromyalgia pain and fatigue?

This is my personal journey into taking control of my life.  Overall I have felt a reduction in pain, brain fog, fatigue and exhaustion problems, along with reduced stress and anxiety.  You may be wondering how, am I taking some new tablets?  Nope.  I have mourned my old life and moved into acceptance.


Now don’t you get me wrong here I’ve been sliding around this change curve for about 2 1/2 years, 2 of those not knowing what was wrong, I just presumed I was still recovering from major back surgery, I’ve had severe back pain for 10 years now, I’m 41.   But it wasn’t until I requested to see a Psychologist and for the first time ever I spilled out everything, no holding back to a complete stranger that it clicked.  I was resisting, fighting it even, going through the whole ‘why me’ syndrome, why me? Because genetics, lifestyle and taking my health for granted created spinal issues and having that op which was such a massive shock I developed what we know and love to hate Fibromyalgia.

I can’t cure this, no one can, I will always have a malfunctioning nervous system but, can it be controlled? Can I learn to love this thing and work with it and build a different life?  Well that’s what this site is all about.  My journey and if I do achieve my goal then hopefully I can help others.

I read a fantastic article here, I do undertake every one of these activities apart from accupuncture as quite frankly I’d take a massage over this anyday and money does not grow on trees.  But that is a personal choice

Every single day I sit and use a mindfulness technique called a body scan or I used to keep a diary.  How does my body feel today?  I use this recording here. It comes free with my new book.  By doing this you get a sense of how you actually feel, I don’t dwell on pain, I assess my body as a whole and also my emotions, so now I know how I feel and make a judgement on how much I can do.

For the first time in over 6 months this week I managed 2 X 20 minute sessions of mindfulness yoga and 1 X 20 minute swim.  Hooray 


Exercise is vital to remaining healthy, keeping weight to a ‘healthy level’ keeping our hearts and lungs healthy and releases feel good chemicals called beta-endorphins, a natural opiod that is stronger than morphine.  I don’t know about you but sitting around waiting to die is not my idea of a life!! I love moving and if it means I’ll live longer and have less pain then I’ll do it.  Yes we feel soreness more but think long term.  Do it slowly. Swimming and mindfulness yoga are gentle but effective.  I know I used to be as fit as an athlete and tried it all with this condition.  Do not spend all day sat watching tv or in the Internet, get up and go outside, yes if it’s raining put on a coat and walk.  Also drink at least 2-3 litres of water a day and I promise you’ll never hardly get headaches.  Our bodies lose 2 litres a day and some people drink what coffee?  Drink water it’s free and healthy.

I take fortnightly massages at my home at ┬ú20 a pop, I’d take a massage over a takeaway any day!! I also use meditation to envisage a massage without leaving my bed, I will dig out my hypnotherapy recording I created.

Baths omg I’d live in one if I could.  I have a hot bath with magnesium salts (I buy 5kg at a time) use 2 cups in each bath at least every other day, as hot as I can stand, I use hot water bottles a lot, especially at work and my friend has a hot tub that kills all aches!! 

Bedtime routine is crucial, here’s what I do:-

Hot bath,

No tv for an hour before bed but if all else fails wear uv glasses

No computer or phone an hour before bed or use uv glasses and change phone settings to reduce brightness at night.  UV light reduces melatonin production in the body and keeps us awake.  My UV glasses below, cost less than tenner from Amazon.


I have one coffee before 8am and no more, I don’t eat chocolate (maybe occasional treat before lunch).  I don’t eat sugar at all if I can help it.  I don’t drink alcohol.  

I read and meditate before bed every night, use a book not a computer or use your UV glasses.

Do not eat at least 3 hours before bed as this will disturb your sleep.

I do not get up if I cannot sleep I use mindfulness techniques to keep calm and enjoy the rest.  Sitting up all night in a computer stressing won’t make you feel refreshed.

Mindfulness keeps my stress under control, reducing my medication has helped my mental health and joining this site has been beneficial here.  Facebook for Fibro Warriors.

Supplementation I will do a separate blog post about these.  Do not underestimate the power of supplementation, I believe Fibromyalgia warriors (I hate the word sufferers) need additional supplements.  How many of us have low vitamin D and an Underactive thyroid?  So did I before I started using supplementation now both are normal.  I use this and I only take 1 a day and my thyroid went normal in 6 weeks as the ingredients replace what is low within your body, without resorting to harmful pills. More of this later.

This is a long post but all of the above has been more effective than any medicine I have tried and believe me that is a lot!!

Good luck and feel free to ask questions.  Nothing happens overnight it take patience, resilience and persistence. 

Medication and Fibromyalgia

I promised you all a list of the medications I have tried to help with with my Fibromyalgia symptoms, bearing in mind it took 2 1/2 years to get diagnosed, what I will also give you is MY opinion of the negatives vs positives of these and side effects, remembering we all have similar symptoms but we are all different and no two people are exactly the same. So please respect my run down as this is personal to me.  

I do believe Fibro can be controlled but my degenerative disease and Spondylothesis cannot, with that said I do believe I can slow down the spinal degeneration, after all it’s my body and it reacts to my mind.

Here goes, please bear in mind in other countries some of these drug names are different so please look them up on google ­čśś:-

Co-Codamol – good short term medication for pain, gives feeling of well being when first started and created intense constipation and sleepiness.  Physically addictive and must be weaned off as make you feel like you have flu.  Made me grind my teeth.  

Tramadol – best painkiller I have ever used, make you feel absolutely out of your head when you first use and driving or working was impossible.  Worked very well but became immune to effects after long term use.  Weaned off too quick first time and felt like I was dying, hallucinated and felt suicidal.  2nd time I weaned off them I did so very slowly over 2 months and coped much better.  I now take 1 occasionally and hope to never use long term again as physically very very addictive.  Caused dry mouth, confusion, daydreaming, constipation and intense itching to start with.

Lyrica – not a bad medication but gave me  bad brain fog and concentration issues. Did not work as well as Tramadol.  Asked to come off them as affected my work.

Gabapentin – worst medication I have ever took in my life and I would never take again.  Pre operation they were quite effective but after developing Fibromyalgia they were awful. I felt suicidal, brain fog was so intense I could not even remember my own date of birth, struggled to hold a conversation and as doses were increased was severely depressed and was scared to be left alone.  I wouldn’t give this to a Fibro sufferer as there are much better treatments out there.  I didn’t realise how bad they affected me until I stopped.  Yes nerve pain has increased but at least my mental health and memory are very good again.

Amitryptyline – a very good tablet to help with insomnia.  But again I am physically addicted to them so having to take 2 months to come off them.

Oramorph – brilliant short term painkiller for extreme pain; PMT and migraines.  Not to be used regularly.  

Citalopram – a fantastic anti depressant, this tablet not only helped me cope with recovering from major surgery but helped with pain relief as it lifted the black cloud that hung over me.  But very physically addictive, still weaning off these and it’s been 4 weeks now and I’m down from 20mg to 7.5, down to 5mg this weekend.  Again cause dry mouth, brain zaps when you move your eyes, lucid dreams and increase anxiety for the first 2/3 weeks.

Duloxetene – cane off this as the lucid dreams got do bad I could not sleep.  Now I don’t think this is a bad medicine at all but again you have to be weaned off with your doctors supervision so quite frankly I don’t want to take this and let it affect my already fragile nervous system and brain!

Diazepam – great for muscle spasms and panic attacks, not effective for long term use.  You can be affected when stopping and weaning must be done slowly.

Zopiclone – brilliant sleeping tablet but probably the lost addictive on the list as long term use will stop you from sleeping normally when you stop worse than any other sleeping tablet I’ve tried.  I still use these and take 1 a week, for example if I sleep for 1, 3, 3, and say 2 hours on 4 nights I become exhausted and risk an accident on the road or sick leave at work. Bi take a zopi and can get 5-6 1/2 hours sleep in one night.

Laxido – to combat Tramadol and co codamol constipation.  One sachet a day works very gentle and is a life saver, but any laxative no matter how mild is not good for long term use.

If I think of any more I will share.  All these tablets mask symptoms we suffer withFibromyalgia and  what I want to do is treat the symptoms and reduce their affects on my quality of life not just mask them with more pills.  ALL these pills have side effects and have created other issues. All these pills affect our nervous systems and that is why I am completely coming off them.  I will keep you posted as to how I get on ­čĹî

Please read this link for more information on any of these pills and for my USA followers you will see the other brand names.