Sleep Tips for Chronic Fatigue

Let's face it. What you want more than anything else right now is a good night's rest! These sleep tips can get you started towards better habits and better sleep. And don't be afraid to talk to your doctor to find the best medications that are right for you.

Bask in the light! Help set your circadian rhythm by throwing open the blinds and getting some sunlight first thing in the morning. Find time to get out in the sun during the day. If the weather doesn't allow that, then try to compensate with indoor lighting.

Exercise regularly -- if your activity level and your doctor allow. Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful. Schedule your exercise time in the morning or early afternoon. Save evening for relaxing exercises such as gentle yoga or stretching. Do not overdo it -- try a graded exercise program to help you ease into it.

Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, especially at night. People with CFS can be very sensitive to drugs and chemicals. These are stimulants that can keep you awake at night.

Don't eat or drink large amounts before bed. Enjoy a good sleep-inducing bedtime snack before bed. Choose foods high in tryptophan, high in carbohydrates and calcium, or medium to low in protein. Try a small turkey or peanut butter sandwich, an oatmeal and raisin cookie with a glass of milk, whole grain cereal with milk, or apple pie and ice cream. Also, limit how much you drink right before bed. You don't need that extra trip to the bathroom!

Sleep primarily at night. If you have to nap, limit it to early afternoons and keep it no longer than 30 minutes.

Get up the same time every day, even on weekends! Get to bed the same time, too. Sticking to a schedule helps reinforce your body's sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep better at night. If you find you are too tired in the morning, try moving your bedtime up 15 minutes at a time until you find the right amount of sleep for your needs.

Choose a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillow. A good bed is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity! When shopping for a new mattress, make sure you lie down in the position you normally sleep at night. Most quality mattresses have plenty of support these days, so focus on your comfort level.

Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. Remove the TV and computer from your bedroom. Using a fan or white noise machine can block outside noises, or try a relaxing tape of nature sounds to soothe you to sleep. Use your bed only for sleeping.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down. This may include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. This is a good time to pamper yourself! Relaxing activities done with lowered lights can help ease the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.

Use sleeping pills judiciously. Go to bed at your regular hour. If you don't fall asleep after 15 to 30 minutes, try taking the minimum effective dosage prescribed by your doctor. As your sleep habits and quality of sleep improve, reduce the dosage gradually. Try substituting a natural sleep aid such as melatonin . Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills.

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