Sleep Routine

by Claire

Bad sleep comes with the CFS/ME territory – it’s something I’ve been battling ever since my condition worsened in 2013. Anxiety-ridden evenings, a tired/wired mental state, and body-clock reversals are all part of the fun and games that never stop when CFS/ME is your bag.

No matter what I do, alterations to a normal sleep pattern are probably going to impact my life until my CFS/ME allows me to do some mild exercise – I know that a huge part of the problem is my sedentary lifestyle – the CFS/ME makes me exhausted, but my body isn’t physically tired in the same way as it is meant to be. But after a tiring December and an physically and emotionally rough January-April things have gotten to a stage where the sleepless nights are unbearable for me, and my tossing and turning is having an impact on Guy.

So I’m going to throw everything I have at this sleeping business. I’ve looked at all the tips and tricks to get a good night sleep, and I’m going to try them all. At once. Starting now.

Mild Exercise

I am extremely limited in my ability to exercise – I do some light stretching in the morning and some light strength exercises for my back in the evening. I take the dog for a walk around the block almost every day, unless I tire myself out by going shopping, or having lunch with friends instead.

No Computer or Phone after tea.

np phone

This will be a tough one to do, as I live on my laptop. I am at my most alert in the evenings, so this is when I am at my most productive; blogging, paying bills, organising my life, and watching tv on ABC iView or SBS on demand. I’ll have to get this done during the day from now on, and find that knitting project…

Warm shower/bath before bed

I’ve always preferred to have my shower at night – it made the morning rush a little less panicked! Although it’s a (mostly) regular event now, when I first became very ill washing became a negotiable luxury, but when it did happen, it would happen in the evenings; not only because Guy would be there if I was too tired to rub my hair dry or put my clothes on, but also because even if it did wipe me out for hours afterwards, this would be perfectly all right as I would be in bed anyway.
Having a warm bath or shower at night helps to relax you, and the steep drop in temperature as you cool down from the hot water encourages deep sleep.

No stimulants


No Darling!

Zero coffee or sugar at all ever, and black tea before noon only.

Sleep Moisturiser

This is just one way of applying essential oils that help to calm and soothe.
There are a couple of versions of this simple sleep balm going around with lavender, cedarwood, peace&calming, and valor.
I love this Fabulous Sleep Salve from the Fabulous Farmgirl page with lavender, roman chamomile, marjoram and cederwood.
You can go closer to a moisturiser with a recipe that is based on shea butter – this one from the Paleo Mama looks good and includes magnesium!
Or you can buy one already made, like this Badger Sleep Balm with bergamot, lavender, rosemary, ginger, and balsam.

Pitta-type sleep support

I haven’t really tried Ayurvedic medicine before, but I will try anything to get my sleep back on track. The Ayurvedic herb Brahmi has “cooling properties for the brain and nervous system” which can counter the 10pm-2am pitta (heat) burst of wired energy.


I have previously written about how important magnesium supplements are to me to prevent pain. Because magnesium is a core nutrient, a deficiency causes widespread problems, including a bunch of different sleep disruptions. I currently take a heaped teaspoon of BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze in the morning, and now I’ll add a magnesium topical treatment at night.
These people recommend 10 topical sprays for 130mg dose.


Gelatin has all sorts of miracle benefits, and it can aid sleep by helping to calm the nervous system. Two tablespoons is the recommended dose to start seeing positive health effects.

Wake up easier by counteracting low blood sugar

Some people think that low blood sugar during the night causes an unrefreshed and groggy wake-up. Having a small after-dinner snack with a low Glycemic Index (think good fat, complex carbs and protein) could help me wake up a little easier and with a little more energy. (For example one celery stick with sunflower seed paste, or one rice cake with cheese) Other foods promote sleep in different ways – Kiwi fruit contains relaxing serotonin, turkey contains tryptophan which aids production of melatonin , banana gives you D3 and calcium which can “decrease odds of having problems falling asleep”, cherries contain melatonin… Your options are endless.

Get outside between 7-9am

Apparently the blue light waves that stimulate serotonin production (important for feeling awake) don’t penetrate window glass, so it’s really important to expose your eyes to the outside. Breakfast al fresco perhaps?

Has ME/CFS altered your sleeping patterns? Do you have any tips or a killer sleep routine that works for you? Please share below. 🙂