Tips and Tricks for Sofa Heroes Day 5: Sleep

30 days of Tips and Tricks to raise money for The OHC Foundation
Hi Everyone!

Sleep is such a difficult topic for people with ME/CFS. Not only is one of the major symptoms of ME/CFS "unrefreshing sleep", but getting to sleep and having good sleep habits is extremely challenging when our symptoms vary day to day.

My sleep habits can change depending on whether I have crashed (I'm in a period of Post Exertion Malaise and not recovering to my "baseline", but am in an "injury" phase), tired and wired, or in the reintegration (when you have a healthy baseline that you can start to grow stronger from) stage.

During the tired and wired and reintegration stages it can be really helpful to have a bedtime and a wake up time.  A sleep schedule can help your body find balance, and the body loves a good schedule (same with eating - eating at the same time every day can really help your body avoid a stressful state).  I'm at the point where I need 10 hours in bed, though I generally only sleep for 7-8 hours.  My sleep is generally unrefreshing and I'm prone to lots of dreams and waking up a few times in the night.  I go to bed around 9:30/10pm and try to get out of bed between 8-9am.  The schedule you choose should support you 7 days a week.

  Before I started the nutrition program I would stay in bed until lunchtime, but my nutritionist pointed out the importance of finding a body rhythm and that included making time for breakfast, and it has really helped a lot.

If I'm in a crash stage I do not set my alarm clock. I'll let myself sleep in until I feel ready to get up, but I'll still go to bed around the same time and limit any naps to 20 minutes during the day.

Light plays an important part in our body's natural circadian rhythms.  The modern world is filled with blue light after dark (TV, phone, computer screens) so our rhythms can get thrown off with false light.  I got a pair of amber glasses which are proven to help with eye stress and strain with long exposure to screens, and also limit blue light which suppresses melatonin production which is essential for sleep!  I'm still getting used to wearing something on my face - but I definitley find myself having a better late-night sleepy experience with them.

I also found this awesome free app called Twilight which changes the tones on your phone after sundown so that less blue light is emitted. It has either an automatic sundown setting based on your location, or you can manually set the hours that Twilight will activate on an automatic schedule (for example if you live in Alaska like my sister and have 20 hours of sunlight in the summer!)

Without and With the Twilight App

UPDATE: There's a "blue light" setting on Android built into the settings! No app required. Apple products have a "night mode" option in settings that serves the same function.
Of course the best thing to do is to limit screen time after dark - but let's be real I'm not sure we all want to spend 4 hours of dark each evening twiddling our thumbs.

Limit or avoid caffeine all together. I have 1-2 cups of coffee a day, and I do not have any caffeine after 2pm.  For a while in my crash stages I avoided caffeine completely, and if I'm tired and wired I'll drink only decaf.  I can tell I've had too much caffeine if I get anxious at bedtime. (Also - Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but many studies have proven that alcohol prevents your body from getting deep sleep. If you're able to tolerate alcohol, do limit it to special occasions only).

One last product I really like is my sunlight alarm clock, which gradually raises the light level until the alarm is set to go off. This gives a much more natural waking up process and I usually wake up before the awful noise goes off! There are a lot of different brands and options out there, so do shop around for what works best for you.

If you're in the USA there's a drink called Neuro Sleep which I use when I travel to the USA to defeat jetlag. Just half a bottle sends me right to sleep. I'm not going to recommend this as a daily practice, but for a boost of melatonin/tryptophan/magnesium to send you to sleep it's the best thing that's ever worked for me. You can take these supplements separately but I highly advise seeking a nutritionists or doctors advice before self medicating on a daily basis.

I'll have more helpful tips with upcoming posts, as there's a lot related to sleep with ME/CFS but I hope this was helpful - I hope you feel better and we'll see you tomorrow!

P.S. Every post is meant to support you on your healing journey. ME/CFS is an extremely difficult and complex illness and I do not pretend that these tricks are part of a CURE, but they are all things that have eased my symptoms and improved my quality of life - and give me the best chance at recovery.

If you feel so moved to help The OHC bring an integrated approach to more ME/CFS patients, Click Here to Donate to the Optimum Health Clinic Foundation

Go to Day 1: What ME Feels Like and About This Challenge!
Go to Day 2: Gentle Movement
Go to Day 3: Meditation
Go to Day 4: Protein and Plant Power!


  1. Looking great in those glasses! Such a good idea - thank you Jenny! Your tips are really wonderful and are helping me to feel understood and supported right when I needed it most!

    1. That's everything I could ever ask for, thank you so much for your kind words Chiara! I need it too! <3


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