Sleep and how it affects your autoimmune disease

| September 26, 2013

I’m sorry I’ve been away for a while. This summer was so much fun and so exciting. Summer camps consumed a majority of my summer. Coaching kids and helping them to complete their first triathlons or help experienced youth triathletes improve was our focus. It was simply one of the best summers ever. To top it off, we created some new races. The Firecracker 5K in Zelie, the Mini Moraine Man Youth Triathlon grew this year and the highlight of the season, the Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon Festival. All of these races help to raise money for local charities while promoting the sports I love. The best part, the Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon allowed for a division for individuals with autoimmune diseases. As far as I know, we are the first triathlon to do that.

This summer certainly challenged my sleep. I’ve determined that stress, being over exhausted and my medication mean many sleepless nights. Individuals with Lupus are known to sleep less already. Our systems simply don’t respond well to the changes going on and it often affects our sleep. When I first got sick, I started to keep a sleep log. I needed to track what caused my sleepless nights. Ultimately, I found out that the prednisone I was on affected my sleep more than anything. However, by keeping a log, I learned that what time a day I took the prednisone could either help or hurt my sleep patterns. If I took the prednisone early in the day, I could sleep much better than if I took it later in the day. Of course, the drug always posed sleep issues, no matter what time I took it. Some were just worse than others.

I think the thing that kept me awake the most were the night sweats from the prednisone. When you wake up at 3:00 AM soaking wet, it’s sometimes tough to fall back to sleep.
Other things that caused sleepless nights for me included the pain. Some nights, the joint pain is simply unbearable. You can’t get comfortable. Every time you move, something hurts and even though you’re exhausted, falling asleep simply won’t happen. I often found taking a hot bath or hot shower took some of the pain away. I would stand under the hottest shower I could stand and usually just hold my hands under it. My hands are always the worst. Hot water is often the only things that would help. If I went Waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time does help a lot. Taking naps when you’re tired to get extra rest is great. Exercise helps to make you a little tired so you can sleep better at night. When I take prednisone, I do find that taking a Tylenol or Advil PM at night, helps me to sleep better.

My biggest issue lately is balancing sleep with my crazy work schedule. I simply don’t get to bed early enough and I wake up way too early. I average at best 5-6 hours a night and it wreaks havoc on my Lupus. My current struggles, I’m tired, my body is achy, my hair is falling out and when I do try and sleep, I usually can’t. I’m probably at the point of being over tired.

I know how important sleep is and I’m the worst at getting enough of it. I hope you won’t follow what I do. Instead, I hope you make sleep a priority. When I do, I feel like a new person. Good luck!

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Category: Autoimmune, Blog, Joella's Corner

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