When you are not sleeping well enough, your brains ability to think is effected. You’ve noticed the effects when you’re tired, you’re not thinking as clearly or fast as usual. The effect remains much longer than you think, even after you feel well rested again.
One of the symptoms of fatigue syndrome is lack of sleep. Or maybe that is one of the causes of the fatigue? I know that when I’m starting to get stressed up, one of the first things that gets disturbed is my ability to sleep. And in order to get well from a period of fatigue syndrome the first step usually is getting the sleep back on track.
It’s not easy. Mr Livslevandes is one of the lucky people who generally just puts his head on the pillow and is fast asleep within 5 minutes. “Just close your eyes and you´ll be asleep in no time”, is his kind advice. Ha! I wish it was that simple…
When you’re under stress the levels of stresshormons rise in the body. Normally the levels go down again when the period of stress is over, but if you live with constant stress for a longer time the body will come to regard the high levels of stresshormons as normal. Or at least that’s how it feels to me. When I’m in a period of fatigue syndrome I find it very hard to relax. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a good day, with rest and enough excercise – my body will be completely tensed when I try to get to sleep. And it doesn’t matter how tired I am either, I can be extremely tired and still not be able to fall asleep.
I’ve reluctantly come to accept that I need to take sleepingpills during those periodes of time. It’s as if my body has forgotten it’s natural rythms, and needs help to find them again. I’ve been prescribed Zopiklon for falling asleep – it doesn’t make me drowsy the next day. But it does give me a nasty bitter taste that lingers in my mouth for the whole day after, which makes me avoid taking the pills… But when I have more than I couple of nights awake I do take them, to avoid a full burnout episode again.
I’ve tried most of the tips for better sleep that are out there, I think. Avoid blue light from screens in the evening, avoid black tea (I don’t usually drink coffee) and alcohol. Keep the bedroom dark and cool, eat something before you go to bed – or don’t eat for X hours before sleep. Nothing has made any noticeable difference to me – or yes, I do sleep even less if I drink alcohol, no matter how little. But I wasn’t in the habit of drinkning on weekdays anyway, so that doesn’t help me much.
I’ve tried natural remedies: different kinds of teas which supposedly have calming effects (chamomille, hop, lemon balm). I’ve eaten pills with valerian and arctic root in them. Sadly none of them hade any noticable effect on me.
But I haven’t given up hope. And then last year I read about somebody who took glycine to sleep. Glycine is an amino acid, and is naturally found in protein-rich nutritients like meat or eggs. The article said that it can help lower the levels of cortisol (a stress-hormone) in the body. I found it for sale at at a webshop aimed for athletes (it can also be used in combination with other stuff to build muscles, apparently). It wasn’t to expensive either, so I bought a bag. Without any great expectations, I might add, based on my previous experiences.
But the first night I tried it I felt like I had the best sleep I’d had in years. My experience was that I got deeper, more restorative sleep. And no side effects at all, no nasty tastes or anything else. So I started taking one teaspoon each night, and the effect has been constant.
To get good nights of sleep when you haven’t for a long time is like slowly coming back to life again. I had forgotten what it felt like to be truly rested. It’s been a year now that I’ve been taking glycine at night, and I still feel that my sleep is improving.
This is my subjective feeling, I’m not claiming any scientifical proofs. And I have no connections to any manufacturers or sellers of glycine. I just wanted to tell you that for me it works, might be worth to give it a try if you have trouble sleeping because of stress. (Do be careful if you do and start with a small dose, some people apparently get palpitations from glycine, not very relaxing.)
And please, if you have no problems sleeping, cherish that. To sleep is not to waste time. On the contrary it’s time well invested, that will give you clearer thinking, better health and healing, better patience and more joy in life. Some scientists even claim that to little sleep will make it easier to gain unhealty weight!
So make an investment in your wellbeing, give yourself time to sleep.