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How Sound Machines Help Me Sleep Despite Chronic Insomnia

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Missing those days when you slept like a baby in warm, loving arms? As a spoonie, sleep is one of the most elusive things I experience, sometimes failing to arrive in time for bed or fleeting rapidly in the smallest hours of the night. For those of us with dysautonomia, such as POTS or NMH, or chronic anxiety or PTSD, can easily get stuck in flight or fight made, keeping our brains from being able to calm down and fall into a deep sleep.

Sound machines can help to calm the central nervous system and block out noises that trigger the fight or flight response for no reason. Find out how this can provide a much better night's sleep or even narrow the distractions you experience through the work day at zebrapit.com. Includes a review of the one I use to ensure I get a good night's sleep.

Its much the same for conditions like MCAS and allergy that dump anxiety fueling chemicals into our blood such as cortisol. In these situations, sleep can be a desperate thing. At times, feeling as elusive and unreal as a flying hippo. Some of us even fail to reach REM stage sleep, a situation I was caught in off and on for some years.

You might be surprised to find how much a simple machine that only takes up a few inches of real estate on your nightstand, can help combat some of the issues we experience with sleep. I certainly was. A sound machine helps to aid in sleep by keeping noisy distractions to a minimum and helping our central nervous system to relax.

Do you use a sound machine? When you first began using it, what are some of the first things you noticed? Perhaps you had a harder time sleeping with it at first, or at least getting there, but once used to it, how did it change your sleep? For me, it started by waking less in the middle of the night and I started feeling more refreshed in the morning.

My husband has used white noise to sleep since long before I met him. His version of white noise was to turn a fan on high every night and we quickly found that while he was often too warm, I was turning into a human Popsicle nightly. In order to save the relationship, we sought our solution through the use of sound machines.

The Benefits of Sound Machines

Eventually, I came to need the sound, too, though originally I thought the idea seemed silly and down right unsafe. I’d spent my life with PTSD and lived with the people who gave it to me. There was no place safe for me and often sleep would only come visit me in the classroom. If I didn’t think I could hear well enough in my surroundings, it’s always heightened my anxiety.

With the Uzopie Sleeping Sound machine, you'll be sleeping like a baby in her mother's arms. With the use of white noise to block out distractions and calm the central nervous system, it's easy to understand why sound machines helps so much with the insomnia that accompanies so many chronic illnesses, including MCAS, POTS, NMH, PTSD, chronic anxiety and many others.

While my husband had to have noise, it made me very uncomfortable at first and I didn’t sleep well. I became used to it after a while and stopped giving it any thought. I came to understand that the noise it cuts out is extraneous background noises that don’t hold any sort of imminent threat. I would still wake up to sounds of an intruder or even just the cats crying for breakfast. What it cuts down on are the noises of neighbors walking and talking overhead, the rumble of cars going past, dogs barking and the whistle of far off trains. Those things are certainly not threats in my bedroom, but sometimes an anxiety-filled brain can no longer prioritize threat levels accurately. It also makes the sound of my husband’s snore fade into the background pretty well until he lands on his back for an all out symphony.

I realized eventually I couldn’t live without it and how much it helped to block out all of this distracting noise that tends to keep my mind on high alert and constantly searching for danger. It was exactly what I needed to relax more deeply into sleep. Only I wasn’t quite utilizing the noise machine right. A fact I didn’t understand until we moved the sound machine over to my nightstand to save him some space.

I couldn’t believe the difference. I slept so much better when it was right by my head. I knew he was never getting it back. When David started complaining that he wasn’t sleeping well for some reason, I immediately understood it was because the sound had gotten too far away and dim for him. We had to have two; one on each nightstand, nice and close to our heads.

We bought a second one we like much better than our old one and we now each have one on our nightstand. During our vacation and on July 4th, it got the real test. We live a real rock `n roll lifestyle of chronic illness and early work hours regardless of things like holidays. We both have dysautonomia on top of my PTSD and his ADHD. Sleep doesn’t come easy for either of us and we have startle responses like an early 1990’s car alarm; loud, inaccurate and possessing a hair trigger.

Despite it all, we went to bed at 9 PM on Independence Day and our sound machines blocked the neighborhood and city fireworks so well I slept through them! Now I’m turning mine up even more, trying to make sure I’ve got maximum coverage. Maybe my neighbors upstairs will even cease to exist! They have feet ūüĎ£ūüĎ£ but I’m pretty sure they change to hooves behind closed doors. Damned devils! ūüĎĻūüėā

According to Karen Asp on Everyday Health, there are a number of ways sound machines can help people:

In a study published in June 2016 in the Journal of Caring Sciences, individuals reported sleeping better while using a noise machine in a hospital setting (complete with various background noises you might expect to hear overnight in a hospital) compared with hospital patients who didn’t use one.

These machines also work well for people with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, which is why they are the first treatment option Dr. Brodner offers patients with this condition. ‚ÄúDuring the day when there‚Äôs other noise and stimuli around them, they don‚Äôt notice the ringing,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúYet because there‚Äôs no background noise at night, the ringing bothers them, and those machines can help drown it out so they can sleep.‚ÄĚ

Can a Sound Machines Actually Help Me Sleep Better?
There are many benefits of using a sound machine, such as those listed. I've also found they are useful for much more than just sleep, but be sure you're using them correctly to get the maximum benefits. Learn more now by clicking through to my post, which includes a review of a very affordable sound machine that will have you resting easier in no time despite dysautonomia, POTS, anxiety, PTSD, tinnitus and sensory overload.

So far, our new sound machine works great, never failing to do its job whether at home or on vacation. It’s also a very easy electronic device to operate, with the dials and settings on top, where they are easy to see and reach. The push-button style on/off switch is easy to locate. Twirl the volume button to turn it up or down, or push on it to change your sound selection. No need to select a sound nightly, either. The machine will automatically play based on the last setting, unless the electricity gets interrupted. This makes it a breeze to operate on groggy mornings or bleary eyed nights.

I also tested it in the living room. It seems to help with my sensory overload and helps me to concentrate when working to cut out all the neighborly noise. Some of the best bucks I ever dropped, and since it’s so affordable, I didn’t feel bad for splurging on a second machine.

Sound Machines for Work? Yes!

Sound machines aren’t only good for sleeping and relaxation when you have dysautonomia, PTSD or anxiety. They can also help keep your mind on task when working at home or in the office and can provide greater relaxation in other areas of your home. We recently moved from a rural area to a much more populated one and I’m finding that using a sound machine during the day tunes out most of the distracting noises of high traffic, emergency vehicles, dogs, the neighbor’s quarreling or the screams and giggles of children playing, which frankly can be like nails on a chalkboard due to my sound sensitivity and sensory overload.

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And while it seems like it could mess with your sensory overload, it actually has the opposite effect for me. I find it very calming. It provides a comforting noise that is consistent and allows me to tune out the distractions, so I find it to be a useful tool for both sensory overload and retaining my focus. No need for uncomfortable headphones or ear plugs to drown out the noise.

The Uzopi Portable Sleep Sound Machine.

Uzopi Portable Sleep Sound Machine

I chose this model myself, as I liked the compact design and easy functionality. In addition to what I’ve already spoken about, here are some other great features that come with this sound machine:

  • The 9 sound settings (White Noise, Campfire, Wave, Brook,Rain, Thunder Rain, Cricket, Forest, and Lullaby) create a soothing environment that promotes sleep, relaxation, and concentration.
  • Setting the sleep timer will automatically turn off the device after 15, 30, 60, or 120 minutes.
  • The compact design easily slips into any suitcase or backpack. You rarely miss a night of sleep, even on the go!
  • The volume is plenty loud and easy to adjust so you can filter out just the right amount of noise to suit your needs.
  • Provides clear, consistent sound without annoying burps, clicks or poorly looped tracks to distract your mind.

Of course, one of the loveliest things about this model is that you get all of these benefits for a very economical price! Buy it now on Amazon: Uzopi Portable Sleeping Sound Machine or your preferred retailer. By purchasing through the link, you are helping the Zebra Pit to meet operating costs and continue publishing and yet it doesn’t increase the price for you.

So what are some other things you do to try and ensure a good night’s sleep? We’d love to hear about them in the comments! As always, thanks for reading. I hope this post has helped reacquaint you with your old pal, Sleep!

Further Reading and Resources:

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10 Symptoms You May Experience With Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a tricky condition to live with as there are many symptoms you can experience beyond Pain and Fatigue. Here are 10 of the top symptoms you may experience and how to manage them.

Symptoms_of_fibromyalgia

Symptoms

1. Brain Fog

This is a cognitive impairment that causes problems such as temporary loss of memory, forgetting words or mixing up words, losing your train of thought, or saying things that don’t make sense. It can be frightening when it happens, as these are also signs of other conditions, such as Alzheimers Disease.

Your doctor can do some mental testing to make sure the symptoms you’re experiencing aren’t being caused by some other condition. Ways you can help yourself include keeping a notebook with you to write down important information, taking a moment to pause and collect your thoughts, and keeping a sense of humour about the situation. If you tend to panic about having this happen, laughing is a good way to keep things light while allowing you to start over with what you were saying.

2. Jaw Pain

Jaw pain in the joints on either one or both sides can be mistaken for TMJ (temporomandibular joint disfunction). Pain and swelling are the common symptoms of jaw pain along with stiffness and being unable to open the mouth without pain.

Gentle stretching exercises and muscle relaxants may be helpful in managing the pain. If only one side is affected, try chewing on the other side to relieve pain. If you hear popping or clicking, or if your jaw seems to be “out of joint”, see your dentist to rule out TMJ or other conditions.

3. Urinary Problems

If you are having difficulty with urinating, whether it’s a problem with urgency, leakage or straining, it’s good to check with your doctor to make sure there’s no underlying problem.

Having Fibromyalgia can affect the bladder and kidneys, causing the above symptoms. Some solutions include urinating on a schedule, doing Kegels, seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, and using bladder control products for leakage issues.

4. Body Temperature

People with Fibromyalgia may have difficulty in regulating their body temperature. In my case, I can have cold skin and goosebumps, yet be sweating from overheating at the same time. It’s a very disconcerting feeling.

Things that may help include keeping a light blanket or sweater nearby for chills and a fan for when heat becomes a problem. I have found that keeping my feet warm helps with the chills and then using a fan helps ward off the sweating.

5. Weight Gain

There are over 60 symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Find out about the top 10, along with a few tips about how to treat them in this post.

Weight gain is often caused because of medications you may be taking for your Fibromyalgia. Even if you’re not taking prescriptions, you may find you’re still gaining weight – it’s one of the anomalies of having Fibro. The only way to lose weight is by taking in less calories than you are expending. Fad diets may work for a short period of time, but in general are unsustainable.

Following a proper eating plan from all 4 food groups is essential and exercise is as well. You may find walking helpful (consider using walking poles for extra stability) or water activities, such as Aquafit, Deep Water Workouts, or Pool Walking to be helpful.

6. Chest Pain

Chest pain can be a scary symptom of Fibromyalgia and should always be checked out by a medical professional if you experience the following:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.

The cause of chest pain in Fibromyalgia is often because of something called Costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage around the ribs. The condition usually affects the cartilage where the upper ribs attach to the breastbone, or sternum, an area known as the costosternal joint or costosternal junction.

Treatment includes anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen and using either heat or ice (which ever feels best for you).

7. Sleep Disorders

Pain can keep you from getting the sleep you need. You may also be experiencing Restless Leg Syndrome and not even be aware of it. Sleep Apnea is another problem that you may be facing and all of these issues can prevent you from getting the deep REM sleep that is necessary to repair the body.

Good sleep hygiene is important to follow. You may want to keep a notebook to jot down your thoughts when you wake at night to see if there is a pattern. Keep the room cool, avoid using electronics for one hour before bed, and try using a weighted blanket to see if that helps.

8. Digestive Problems

When you have Fibromyalgia, you may experience digestive disorders including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation (or occasionally both), heartburn and a general sense of feeling “unwell”.

Drinking peppermint tea can help with nausea, eating smaller more frequent meals might make a difference and trying to set up a schedule for bowel movements can help relieve discomfort. Metamucil or other Fibre supplements every day can be helpful for the bowels without resorting to laxatives.

If symptoms persist, see your doctor to rule out other potential problems.

9. Skin Problems

Itching, rashes, hives and tiny red marks can often show up when you have Fibromyalgia. Skin may become more sensitive to soaps and fragrances and you may discover that your normally dry skin has become oily or vice versa.

Use of a mild cleanser for face and body is imperative, especially ones containing oatmeal. Antihistimines are suggested when hives and itching become a problem and the tiny red marks that might show up on your skin are harmless.

If you have problems with skin rash, see your doctor who may recommend a dermatologist for further treatment.

10. Depression

Depression and Fibromyalgia may go hand in hand without you realizing you are showing signs. If you are finding yourself struggling to maintain interest in former activities, you’re isolating yourself, eating less or more than usual or have been unable to shake “the blues”, you may be experiencing Depression.

Treatment includes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and often, medications. There is no shame to having Depression – you haven’t done anything wrong. You’re not weak, your body is showing signs of a chemical imbalance which should be treated like any other medical problem.

If you are feeling so depressed that you are suicidal, please call a hotline for help. You can find more information on hotlines here for Canada and here for the United States. In the UK, you can use this page for help.

Conclusion

There are over 60 different symptoms that relate to Fibromyalgia. These 10 are just the tip of the iceberg, but are the ones more commonly experienced.

Fibromyalgia is hard to explain

If you are experiencing something new, or if a symptom you’ve had for awhile changes, it’s always important to see your doctor, to rule out anything outside of Fibromyalgia. Better safe than sorry is certainly the key here. And remember…

There Is Always Hope


Resources and Further Reading


Pamela Jessen lives in Langford, BC Canada. She is a blogger who writes about Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness at pamelajessen.com.  She also writes for The Mighty,  PainResource.com and various independent publications. Pamela is also a Patient Advocate with the Patient Voices Network in BC.  She sits on 4 committees and one Provincial working group and has also been involved in advocacy work at the Canadian National level as well. Pamela is married to her amazing husband Ray and they have one cat named Dorie. 

There are over 60 symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Find out about the top 10, along with a few tips about how to treat them in this post.