It’s amazing how not getting rest can affect your life! For people with fibromyalgia, a good nights’ sleep is often elusive. Research shows that people with fibro often have sleep apnea and do not experience stage four in the sleep cycle which is where the body restores itself. It is unclear if their pain effects their sleep or the lack of sleep increases their pain. Either way, it means those who suffer with this chronic condition often also deal with chronic fatigue.
I don’t know about others, but those nights when I don’t sleep well, I feel as if I have been “awake” the whole night. I remember dreams but I’m easily woken by any outside stimulus (dogs barking, cows mooing in the pasture behind our house, light from the moon through the blinds, being too hot/cold). My family says I can fall asleep in ten seconds and yet I can hear their conversations and answer them “in my sleep” because I never get to stage three or four of the sleep cycle. I take naps often, which is not common in today’s society and although my close friends understand, it still feels like I’m outside the norm by doing it.
For those of us with sleep disturbances, whether from fibromyalgia or something else, it is difficult to see the difference between rest and sleep. Although there are many times that I get as little as two or three hours of sleep, when I am relying on God for my strength I am able to make it through the day. Matthew 11 states, “Come to me and I will give you rest”. God is not saying here that you will always sleep if you come to Him, but the restorative rest that He alone can give is much more valuable than sleep. He gives a peace that gives rest to your soul and allows you to rest even if your body isn’t cooperating.
For me, I was likely to get one good night sleep out of every four to five days, until December 2015. For some reason over Christmas break I began having a good night sleep every two to three days increasing my rest. I’m not sure why this new cycle began (We did increase one of my medications and I have less daily pain), but I have seen the benefits of it. My energy has increased and for some reason I began losing weight. Since Christmas I have been able to exercise without adding to my pain level and have lost forty pounds. For those of us with fibromyalgia, there are seasons in which we have less pain and I am thankful for the summer that I am currently having.
It is difficult to be happy and motivated when you feel tired all of the time. For me it helped to rely on God for His rest and to take sleep where I could get it. He has been faithful to help me at least have rest for my soul, even when my body wouldn’t allow sleep to come easily. Whether it is the pain that causes difficulty sleeping or lack of sleep that increases our pain, God can give you rest.
Whatever the cause, I am grateful to God for the sleep that I am now getting even though it does mean I’m spending less sleepless nights talking to Him. One of the positive side-effects of not being able to sleep is that it gives me time to spend focusing on what I can do. I have spent many sleepless nights praying…for friends, family, those in need and most definitely for rest. Although I am not often able to rest in my body, I have learned to rest in Him.