Sleep, as I have discussed previously, is essential for your muscles, brain development, and hormones. Preparation for bed is vital to ensure you have a sleep that can be the most effective for you. I will give detailed information on how I prepared for bed, but I know it may not be the same for you. Although, I would encourage everyone who reads this to understand that you should not disregard sleep due to how vital it is and should make preparations to ensure you a great sleep. It takes me a while to get sleep since I am an insomniac, but I feel refreshed in the morning after a good night’s rest.
One thing that I do is stretches. I will use the vibration machine I have at home to do calf stretches, hamstring stretches, and quad stretches. I would then stretch my calves on the slant board in which I can stretch the side of my calves and then continue to stretch my hamstrings in different positions on the slant board. I have an assisted hamstring stretch device (that I will include in a future blog post on recovery) that enables me to stretch in three different directions and loosen up my hamstrings dramatically. I then lean forward on my hips with my other leg behind to stretch my hips for around 45 seconds. After that, I stretch my quads to loosen my lower body completely. I briefly do side-to-side back and neck stretches, which marks the end of the stretching.
Following stretching, I use a foam roller to roll out my body. I start with my upper back to reduce tightness in my shoulders and neck muscles. I then roll out the side of my hips and glutes to reduce tightness in that area as it is one of my body’s tightest areas. For 30 seconds, I roll out my side quads, quads, hamstrings, calves, and shins, which is the briefest way to reduce tightness in that lower body area. On nights that I do not do this, it is harder for me to get to sleep and relax. I feel more tired when I wake up, and the whoop device I have tells me that I need a lot more rest.
As I have mentioned before, I drink tea before I go to sleep, which I will once again emphasize, helps me relax. Although I also drink a glass of water with Magnesium in it. Magnesium is a natural method to reduce inflammation and help your muscles recover as much as possible. I eat dark chocolate, which studies have shown to be beneficial for your heart rate. Since the heart is affected by Muscular Dystrophy, finding a way to reduce your heart rate reliably is one way that helps me sleep. I take 10 mg of blood pressure medicine called Lisinopril and Eplerone, which is another way that reduces my blood pressure, which takes the pressure off my heart in an attempt to reduce my heart rate.
I then lay on this device called BEMER, which I will make a post about shortly. In short, you choose a program on the device, and it oxidizes your cells. On the website above, there is a video that shows how studies demonstrate that the Bemer increases blood flow and allows for better breathing. Bemer allows my cells to be oxidized and improves my breath, which is crucial to gaining the benefits of sleeping. Since Muscular Dystrophy patients typically have impaired breathing, I recommend this device to any patients because I experience its benefits each day. The oxygenized cells can stimulate increased repair and growth in muscles and intensity the benefits gained from sleeping.
I use an essential oil diffuser that aims to help me breathe and relax before and while I am sleeping. I use the Doterra humidifier and Aveda and Doterra essential oils. My favorites are Doterra breathe, Aveda eucalyptus (which also reminds me of Australia), and Avega Tangerine that help me sleep better and are useful for skin care. I initially began using this because my massage therapist used essential oils to massage me, helping my muscles relax faster. My mother and I decided to try the diffuser, which dramatically improved my sleep, and I found that my muscles were more relaxed when I woke up. She said that different essential oils worked with various clients, so you need to do research and experimentation to determine which essential oils work for you.
Finally, I listen to meditation music, DNA repair music, classical music, or music meant to help you sleep. (I usually listen to 6 songs: “a hundred thousand angels,” “New Dawn,” “Orange World,” “Hymn,” “The Journey,” and “Reflection” by an artist named Bliss on Spotify). Music is another way to relax, and I feel like I sleep better and faster when I have the music on. I also have been beginning to use BrainTap on top of the music that helps me sleep. They have programs for different uses and also have a free program that I enjoy. It is another method that helps me relax as they use different sound waves to promote better sleep. All of these methods I have discussed above help me sleep most effectively.
Everyone will require different methods to promote adequate sleep, but any preparations can create the best possible sleep to enhance recovery. Sleep, as I have discussed, is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. YOU NEED TO GET THE BEST SLEEP because it is essential for anyone, but especially with muscular dystrophy.