Lupus and Early to Bed
Benjamin Franklin had it right promoting, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man health, wealthy and wise.” Lupus can cause extreme bone-tired fatigue and exhaustion, and is easily a culprit for the early end of any day. Some nights I am rushing the clock to try to go to sleep before being overcome by a series of uncontrollable yawns. Evening onset lupus neuropathy in my legs also seems to magnify the fatigue.
Sleep is a very important part of dealing with lupus. For those of us with CNS involvement, inadequate sleep can make mornings rough. Even those without CNS involvement can have trouble thinking clearly in the morning, so we all need to make getting sleep a very high priority. When getting to sleep, or staying asleep all night is a problem we should talk to our general practice doctor or rheumatologist about it.
Getting enough restful sleep can be the difference between walking around the next day in a foggy blur, or facing it with clarity of mind. My sleep solutions include daily gabapentin to control my neuropathy pain and occasional Ultram when pain interrupts my sleep in the middle of the night. (I always allow at least six hours afterward before driving.) Medicated sleep is better for my mind and body than no sleep. More sleep always leads to a more clear-headed morning afterward.
Lupus and Early to Rise
On any busy day, arising early can make the difference between getting somewhere on time, running late, or even worse, arriving on time but “brain-dead.” I have a hard time getting up early unless I go to bed very early the night before. In the morning, it takes several hours to think clearly enough to handle driving and work responsibilities. Investing in adequate early rest prepares me for getting up and out of the house earlier, but mornings are always rough, so I need all the help I can to improve them.
When a lupus patient sleeps, lupus escalates its sinister attack on connective tissue throughout a patient’s body. Even without CNS lupus involvement, lupus still creates a brain-fogging metabolic change occurring heavily during slumber, making most mornings murky at best. In simple language, a morning lupus patient’s brain can feel like trying to slog through muddy water instead of a pristine clear running stream.
Normally, a healthy body handles ongoing cell death and replacement processes (apoptosis) without any trouble. However, while a patient with lupus sleeps, attacked connective tissue cells die at a faster-than-normal rate throughout their body. This process leaves behind the dismantled building blocks of dead cells in body tissues. Cellular debris is the garbage left over after the damage is done, and can have an overloading, toxic and inflammatory effect on body tissues. Some of these toxins and cellular debris collect in brain tissue faster than the body can filter them out and carry them away, and the clogged up result contributes to the morning “brain fog” effect often experienced with lupus.
A doctor shares a great discussion of apoptosis and lupus:
It can take a little longer each morning to get a brain with lupus going. The good news, is that lupus brain fog does not really cause direct damage, even though it does create extra workload on the body’s filtering organs. This brain fog is a by-product of lupus activity in the body, and not the primary problem.
Activity and exercise seem to help me clear the morning fog away. As the day progresses, hour-by-hour my brain fog tends to clear. Other lupus symptoms typically lessen throughout each day, too. Joint swelling goes down, pain diminishes and morning arthritis stiffness loosens up. Brain fog slowly “lifts” like sun warming the earth each morning.