Tuesday, 26 November 2013

To sleep or not to sleep!

In the last week I`ve once again been suffering from insomnia and those horrible nightmares and dreams.

I feel like my bed is a battlefield. I can`t recall the last time I had a good night`s sleep!

So what`s going on?

Well sleep dysfunction is a common problem for people with ME which includes
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty in initiating sleep
  • Frequent awakenings
  • Nightmares or agitated dreams
  • Non-restorative sleep
  • Variations in sleepiness and energy throughout the day
  • Sometimes hypersonic (excessive sleeping)
And it seems that the most common sleep dysfunction in ME is light sleep, where you never hit the deep stages of sleep (Stage 3 & 4) required for restorative sleep. This is because the endocrine system (which produces hormones) is dysfunctional in people with ME. In a healthy person, the body naturally produces more dopamine and serotonin in the evening, as it gets darker. These two hormones are released in the brain, causing the normal progression of all of the stages of sleep, including deep sleep. Without enough of these hormones, the brain stays in the light stages of sleep.

So no wonder I always feel tired!

I have written a few poems about the problems of sleep in ME and I was approached by Julia Cottam to use these poems for The Big Sleep for ME during ME awareness week in May 2013 

She along with M.E. Awareness: Words and Pictures provided the artwork for the poems

I think the combination works well and helps to bring the poems alive.

Here are a couple of examples.

This poem entitled Sleep highlights the problems around initiating sleep, frequent awakenings and insomnia.


The second poem ME Sleep patterns is about the changes that take place in sleep patterns from hypersomnia to insomnia, sleep reversal and unrefreshing sleep.

In the early stages of the illness hypersomnia is more the problem, when you need to sleep a lot longer than `normal` yet don`t feel refreshed. This may also happen in a relapse. Some find a reversal of their sleeping pattern and find themselves sleeping more in the day than the night. And then insomnia seems to become the pattern later in the illness. 

After ten years of this illness I seem to mostly suffer from insomnia, frequent awakenings or weird and lifelike dreams. The last time I had a severe relapse was a couple of years ago and it was as if I had gone back in time and all I wanted to do was sleep.

Next time I`ll share some more of my poems about sleep.
Until then Bonne nuit!
From the French Femme xxx  




  1. Your second poem on ME sleep patterns is so spot on. Even though I have had this illness since 2000 and the doctors have failed to diagnose me which I find amazing as your poem so describes what I have gone through, I am grateful for you putting down in words how real it all is. Some days I am in denial if I am having a good day and doubt that I really have this illness, until the good day goes and I get a stark reminder. At the moment I am going through more of the insomnia stage and it is good to know what is causing it. Thank you for you insight. X

    1. I`m so glad that you can identify with my poem. I think it helps if we know that others are the same and that we are not alone. Of course we have doubts as to whether we are really ill and this is increased when the doctors don`t believe us. Insomnia seems to make all other symptoms worse as we don`t get the restorative sleep that we need.

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