To Sleep, Perchance to Dream


As you may or may not know, I have fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with it some twenty-two years ago, whilst I was at university. I won’t bore you with the details of symptoms, which are numerous and variable; I just want to talk about one of them in this post – the issue of sleep.

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Sleep is very important in managing the other symptoms that come with FM, but it has to be quality sleep, restorative sleep. And that can be hard to come by.  FM affects sleep in a number of ways; it can cause insomnia, which is something I am going through again at the moment. On the other hand, it can cause you to sleep for huge amounts of time in one go (I think my current record for this is 22 hours in one go). However, there’s another way that FM messes with sleep and it cancels out those massive sleeps in one fell swoop.

As you may know, there are different phases of sleep. REM sleep is the one during which we dream, and though it might seem that dreams are long, in reality adults spend a maximum of 20% of sleep in the REM phase. Healing, restoration and rest come during the delta phase, known as deep sleep. And here’s the thing. People with FM seem to have alpha brain waves intruding into  delta sleep, which is why, when they are not suffering from insomnia, they can sleep for long periods of time and feel no better or rested than they did before they slept.  One “side effect” of all this messed up sleep is the amount of dreams someone with FM can have.

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I’ve spoken to a few people with FM about this, and it’s a common thing – lots of dreams, vivid dreams, bizarre dreams. I always know when I’ve had what I term a “fibro sleep” because I wake up remembering the most bizarre dreams that make no sense whatsoever. They often come back again and again too. I’m experiencing this at the moment.  I’ve got awful insomnia at the moment and am not managing to fall asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning, and getting just 3 or 4 hours of broken sleep before I’m wide wake again. But I’m packing in plenty of weirdness. The current recurring dream goes like this:

I am visiting the office of Barefoot Books (the company I worked with for 6 years, until last month). The offices look a little like their old offices in Bath, but not colourful at all. The office is on the 12th floor of B&Q and can only be reached by climbing a narrow staircase up to the office which is hewn out of the rock in places. When we get there, my husband (who is a computer engineer in “real life”) needs to log on to the computer system but can’t remember how. Tessa (Editor-in-Chief at Barefoot) rolls her eyes at him as she explains again how to log into the system. Whilst they are doing that (in a mini school computer lab attached to the dull office), I have to play pool with Nancy (CEO), but we are playing on a stone table, with gourds instead of balls and the game has been rigged so there is no way to win.

That’s the bit that is always the same. The reasons we are there and the rest of the detail changes. We’ve been chased by some undisclosed enforcement agency through the (typical school) staircases, whilst trying to escape with a baby that they are after. We’ve had sniffer dogs with us (though I’ve no idea what we were looking for) – these bits take place on the way to and from the office, but invariably we end up jumping out of the office window which is no longer 12 floors up.

So, they you go – a little insight into my psyche. This is one of the “fibro dreams” that makes more sense – some of them are so weird I can’t even find the words to describe them! I’d love to know if there’s any meaning behind them or if it’s just a jumble of dreams that I remember due to the FM effect.

Have you had any odd dreams you’d like to share?

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