5 More Tips to Manage Insomnia
Last updated: December 2021
As a lupus patient, I often struggle with insomnia. I previously wrote an article on ways to manage it. Here are some more tricks I’ve learned to help me fall into a restful sleep at night:
Blue light filters
Blue light, which is emitted by screens such as TVs, cell phones, and computers, disrupts the body’s Circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep at night. I usually read a book at night instead of using my computer, but I can’t avoid using my computer for work in the evenings before I start to get ready for bed. During the second half of the day, I use a blue light filter on both my computer and my cell phone. Blue light filters are automatically installed on most computers. Just check your computer’s settings. The blue light filter I use on my phone is an app called Twilight that I downloaded for free. In addition to helping me fall asleep easier, having a blue light filter on my phone helps prevent headaches and nausea that I occasionally experience after using my phone for long periods of time.
As an enthusiastic advocate of light exercise, I’ve written about the benefits of exercise before and about how an exercise routine can alleviate fatigue. Exercising during the first half of the day also helps me fall asleep quicker and helps me sleep more soundly. Because the wrong kind of exercise can increase fatigue and insomnia, I’m careful not to overdo any physical exertion. I take Pilates classes a few times a week. I also do light weight-lifting at home.
While exercising in the first half of the day helps with insomnia, I’ve found that exercising after 7pm can actually increase my insomnia. For this reason, I am careful not to be too physically active later in the day.
Awareness of flares
Every lupus patient is different and can experience different symptoms. That’s one of the reasons doctors call lupus "the great imitator." For me, increased fatigue and insomnia are indicators that I am entering into a flare. I know from experience that if I don’t quickly get my insomnia under control, I can become very sick. For this reason, I sometimes start on a course of oral steroids to get my body back on track. Steroids can often be the cause of insomnia, so this approach doesn’t work for everyone. However, lupus patients should be aware that insomnia might be either an early sign of a flare or a catalyst for a flare.
Over the years, I’ve tried many over-the-counter medications to manage my insomnia. Melatonin, NyQuil, and Simply Sleep are just a few. By trying different medications, I’ve learned what works for me. I’m always careful to never take above the recommended dose.
I speak to my doctor
There have been times when my insomnia became too severe to manage with lifestyle changes or even over-the-counter medication. Especially when my insomnia seems out of control and is affecting my overall health, I know I can go to my rheumatologist for a prescription that will help.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?