Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rest for the Weary


A major symptom of Multiple Sclerosis is fatigue. This teters more on the exhaustion side than the "I'm-tired-and-need-a-nap" side. This can be a life altering issue, but I believe there are things we can do to improve our energy levels and, perhaps get more in the bargain than we bargained for.

Several factors contribute to fatigue, namely:

  • progression of the disease itself (lesion and damage load)
  • depression
  • sleep disturbance
Which would you find to be the greatest of the three causes? A study published on the National Sleep Foundation's website said, 

"Specifically, the results of this study showed that all three contribute to fatigue in MS, but that sleep disturbance is the biggest contributor."
Of course, the disease of MS itself can present issues that disturb sleep such as, insomnia brought on by a brain lesion, spasms in the muscles that awaken you at night, among other things. What I am addressing here are the people who choose to limit their sleep because of poor time management or overloaded schedules (preaching to myself here).

While MS is such a "case by case" disease, the majority of patients do suffer from fatigue and I believe our lives can be improved by making a focused effort to rest our bodies and minds as much as possible in the evenings.

Let me make my next point by giving a simple illustrated lesson of what MS is.

The term Multiple Sclerosis actually means "multiple scars" which are found on the brain and spinal cord. To be more specific, the scars are damage to the myelin of the brain cell.


Above is a healthy brain cell. Notice the myelin, which is a covering of the axon cord. It's a lot like the coating of an electrical cord, in that it insulates the nerves and electricity they inhabit. (Did you know that our brain cells actually conduct electricity? Fascinating!)


This is a picture of what damaged myelin looks like in MS. The cord is exposed and nerves can misfire and can also be destroyed. Again, much like an electrical cord with exposed wire, the power flow can be disrupted or even severed when the coating is damaged.

This brings me back to the importance of sleep...

Besides the obvious advantage of simply feeling better, did you know that sleep is the state of being in which our bodies not only grow our myelin, but it is also when our bodies repair our myelin? Growth and repair does NOT occur when we are awake.

If I am choosing to only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night, I am limiting the process in which my body has the capability of, not only normal brain cell growth, but also healing.

We desperately need that healing.

And, don't forget that in addition to repairing the myelin, you are also combating that fatigue! Smart move!

So on to another step in my solution for Multiple Sclerosis..

Step Three: Focus on getting as much sleep as you can each and every night.

This won't always be possible with babies cutting teeth or sick children, and for those who suffer with bouts of insomnia, which I have from time to time, don't be tough and refuse any sleep aid (again, preaching to self). It's not weak to accept help when the results are your increased strength.

Much like the other ideas of self improvement I am purporting on this blog, this is one I am just now truly implementing. If the results are anything like my diet results have been, then I look forward to the days ahead!

I will be updating on the food intolerance elimination and juice diet soon, so far, so great!

Keep up the fight!

Laura

4 comments:

  1. I am glad to see this. :) get your zzzzz's.

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    1. This applies to everyone, miss ;)

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  2. You are SO right!!! Sleep DOES restore so many things. It is more important than we know. Even God rested on the 7th day! And I am happy to see that perhaps you would take something to promote a good night's sleep. So excited to see what's ahead for you in this journey.

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    1. I have taken medication at times when I was unable to sleep for several hours during the night, and would again if I need to. Currently, I get up so early to complete my college work that I'm asleep as soon as when my head hits the pillow. I would encourage anyone with insomnia to seek medical advice.

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