It’s been a long time since I’ve done an IC related post, but I’ve been thinking about doing this one for the last few days. Ironically, I haven’t slept that great the last few days and I think that is in part because I’ve been thinking about what I should write on this post as I’m trying to fall asleep. So for the sake on my shut-eye, here you are.
If you have IC, it’s probably pretty likely that you dread falling asleep. While other chronic pain conditions might welcome the hours of rest, for IC sufferers, sleeping (or trying to fall asleep) is somewhere along the lines of mild torture. There have been nights where I’ve gone to the bathroom somewhere around twelve times. Other times where I have been in a cycle of laying down and immediately getting up to pee not even a minute later because the pain is so sudden and sharp.
I more or less dread going to bed.
You might be tempted into one of those knock you out for eight or more hours medicines like Ambien. Beware, my friends, beware. (Okay ignore everything I have to say and talk to a doctor. I make no claim to have a clue what I’m talking about). Ambien was working great for me for a while; I took it primarily on an as-needed basis when traveling. Then one night I accidentally took it ten minutes before I went to bed instead of immediately before and WHAM-O. The walls starting shimmering, the clothes in the closet started waving at me, the earth started tilting.
For all you kids out their thinking that it sounds like fun, let me tell you something – it was. For about 2 minutes. Then I thought my hand had become grotesquely deformed and I spent the rest of the night puking in the bathroom until I fell asleep. So no, not fun.
SO without anymore to-do, here are my tips for falling asleep. These are pretty much IC specific since we all know things like “close the blinds” and “have a bedtime routine” and “huff lavender.”
Don’t try the whole “no water for 6 hours before bed” thing
I seriously saw somewhere not to have anything to drink after 6 pm if you had frequent urination. Um, yeah right. For one, if you have IC, you are probably on Elavil which means you probably have dry mouth which means the idea of going 5+ hours without water is awful. For another, one IC related theory is that highly concentrated urine is more likely to cause flares. So if you dehydrate yourself, your urine will be much more concentrated and likely to burn you. So keep sipping on water throughout the night, though obviously don’t chug your water right before you try to fall asleep.
Think about when you take your meds
Okay, I’m bad about this so I’m only assuming it works. I tend to take all my medicine right before bed which means I amchugging a lot of water right before I fall asleep. I assume this is bad. Sometimes I try to remember to take it earlier in the night but usually I fail at that. So you try and let me know how it goes.
I use a little icy hot on my pelvic muscles and lower back before trying to fall asleep. It helps with the pain and cramping, if you have that.
Take some pain killers before bed
I’m not a doctor so disregard pretty much everything I say. But I find taking some aleve or tylenol in anticipation of feeling pain when I lie down helps me fall asleep quicker. If anything just because then I don’t have to get up to take it when I inevitably find myself in pain.
Do some yoga
I’ve gotten bad about this lately, but I find doing a little yoga before bed can help me fall asleep as well as stretch out my pelvic floor muscles. I usually do this routine:
The standing squat (half moon squat) position is great for stretching out your pelvis.
Put something under your knees
This is my best advice. If you are like me, laying down is fairly painful. Something about the way that your hips tilt and squish your bladder. I find that putting a rolled up blanket or pillow under my knees tilts my pelvis so it is flat and minimizes the pressure on my bladder. It’s been a life saver for me.
Stop sleeping on your side/stomach
I used to love sleeping on my side and stomach (besides it being terrible for your neck). Now I’ve realized that laying on my side means the weight of my hip is crushing my bladder. Obviously on your stomach, your whole body weight is crushing your bladder. So stick to laying on your back.
Don’t try to fall asleep right away
For the past four or so years, I have gotten up to go to the bathroom at least 2 or 3 times every night before falling asleep. I used to fight it, try to make myself fall asleep despite the burning pain in my bladder, and end up frustrated. Now I realize that its just going to happen as a result of laying down. So instead of attempting to doze off the minute my head hits the pillow, I give myself a few minutes to let my body adjust to being horizontal. So I use that time to talk and pray with my husband, get my lying on my side needs out of the way, and then I go to the bathroom one (hopefully) last time.
Have compassion for yourself
Sometimes it’s not one last time. Sometimes its the first of many. That’s just the way IC is. I try to take a non-judgmental approach to my frequent trips to the bathroom. Letting myself get angry, annoyed, and frustrated only adds to adrenaline which keeps me up even more. Letting it go and just doing it helps me remain relaxed and ready go back to sleep.
Don’t look at the clock when you get up
I have no tips for staying asleep all night. I get up to pee at least 2, often 3, sometimes 4, times a night (to all you pregnant women rolling your eyes at me – I’m not pregnant. This is what my life is like without a baby crushing my bladder!). So you will probably get up and go. And whenever I do, and look at the clock, I think “Crap. I’ve only been asleep half an hour.” Or “crap, I have to wake up in 2 hours.” But avoiding the clock means my mind never really kicks into gear and I fall asleep quicker.
Clear a path to the bathroom
Every night before I fall asleep, I check my bathroom path to make sure it is free of debris and obstruction. Nothing like running into a table on your trip to the loo at 3am to make yourself hate your life.
Use Badger Sleep Balm
Please share any tips you have for sleeping soundly!