Do you have trouble sleeping? Not sleeping can disrupt your immune system making you more susceptible to chronic infections, like Lyme disease. For many people with Lyme, insomnia is a common problem. And if you have untreated Lyme it can be difficult to improve your health without restorative sleep.
You may have heard about “cytokine storms” in relation to COVID-19. But those with Lyme are already familiar. In the Lyme world, we call them “Herx” reactions, short for Jarisch-Herxheimer.
These elevated inflammatory responses can make you feel strangely hyperactive, while at the same time feeling debilitating fatigue. Increased pain, fever, and shortness of breath are all common symptoms.
Because I’ve dealt with sleep issues related to chronic Lyme for years, I was interested in watching Dr. Rawls’ recent webinar, Lyme + Sleep with Dr. Bill Rawls. I wrote this post from the notes I took from the webinar. I hope you find it as useful as I have.
- The Sleep Cycle, According to Dr. Rawls
- How To Sleep Better With Lyme Disease: 6 Strategies for Rest
- Other Natural Sleep Supplements
- Why Are Lyme Symptoms Worse At Night?
- Practice Healthy Sleep Habits
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The Sleep Cycle, According to Dr. Rawls
According to Dr. Rawls, there are 2 forces at work when it comes to our sleep cycle.
- Circadian rhythms and
- Sleep pressure, which is influenced by the hormone adenosine.
This is good to know. But what is it that upsets that good night’s sleep we all so desperately need? Let’s take a look.
Lyme Disease Ebook
What disrupts the normal sleep cycle?
- Chronic stress
- Too much media consumption (Need a social media break?)
- Lack of physical activity
- Artificial lighting
- Poor eating habits
- Microbes living inside our cells. A healthy immune system keeps these in check, but when things get out of balance that’s when we start having problems.
When we’re talking about a disease such as Lyme poor sleep can be an endless cycle. You can’t get well without quality sleep, but it can be incredibly difficult to sleep with Lyme.
This has been my experience and that of so many others I’ve talked with. It can be the same with other chronic conditions.
Dr. Rawls emphasizes,
“Restoring normal sleep must be central to Lyme recovery. The good news: A holistic approach to Lyme recovery also helps cultivate normal sleep!”Dr. Rawls
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Now, let’s take a look at his suggestions for restoring sleep naturally.
How To Sleep Better With Lyme Disease: 6 Strategies for Rest
1. Eliminate harmful microbes.
It’s more than just the Lyme microbes. Herbal therapy can help with this.
Here are some herbs Dr. Rawls recommends to suppress damaging microbes:
- Japanese knotweed
- Cat’s claw
- Chinese skullcap
Here’s a helpful guide to herbs from Dr. Rawls. It includes suggested dosages and possible side effects.
2. Control inflammation and pain.
Chronic pain can make it hard to sleep. So controlling it’s an important part of the puzzle when you’re trying to fix insomnia issues. Below are some herbal therapies that Dr. Rawls mentions.
- CBD (from hemp) Oil
- Medical Marijuana (contains THC)
CBD modulates pain and reduces systemic inflammation. Plus, it’s non-habit forming. He suggests using a dose or 2 of CBD oil in the day.
Learn more about the benefits of CBD and how it can help you sleep better.
Then, if you need more sleep support at night, you can take a small dose of medical marijuana before bed. This is because it can be habit-forming. Here’s some information on marijuana addiction,
3. Restore your immune system function.
Here are some herbs recommends for improving your immunity.
- Reishi mushrooms
- Cordyceps mushrooms
- Red Sage
4. Balance your HPA axis.
The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis regulates the stress response.
The following herbs are great at balancing the normal cortisol levels.
- Magnolia and Phellodendron
5. Soothe any sympathetic overactivity.
Ever heard of the fight or flight response? That’s what we’re talking about here.
You know when you’re physically exhausted, but also wired and can’t fall asleep?
These herbs can help you achieve natural balance when you’re dealing with this overstimulated, hyper-adrenaline state.
- Passion Flower
- Lemon Balm
6. Reestablish an active lifestyle.
Practice natural activities to keep your adrenaline levels low. Do what you can. Every little bit helps. Try…
- mindfulness walking
Other Natural Sleep Supplements
Dr. Rawls also recommends trying the following supplements if you’re having trouble sleeping.
- Lavender oil
- Melatonin – use 1 mg at bedtime
- Magnesium glycinate
- Tryptophan and 5-HTP – 100-300 mg before bedtime
- Amino acids
- Gabba or Glycine
Different supplements affect people differently. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting new supplements.
If you’ve ever wondered the following, you’re not alone…
Why Are Lyme Symptoms Worse At Night?
There are several reasons why your Lyme symptoms may seem more intense at night. For one thing, when you’re lying there trying to go sleep it’s a lot of pressure because you know your body needs sleep to get better.
So when you’re not able to fall asleep (or you fall asleep, then wake up later unable to go back to sleep) it can cause anxiety. And the anxiety can intensify the pain you’re already feeling, making you aware of every body part that’s hurting.
And this is on a “normal” day. If you’re having a Lyme flare-up, sleep can be even more challenging because you feel worse already.
Tick-borne diseases can have many symptoms and affect people differently.
There’s not one particular symptom that makes sleep challenging. There can be a multitude.
Whether it’s chronic pain, heart problems, neurological symptoms, fevers, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, or other symptoms. When Lyme microbes and co-infections are involved, it’s vital to do everything you can to promote deep, restful sleep.
I created a Lyme resource to help answer your questions. The guide provides you with:
- more details about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases
- valuable information on diagnosis and testing
- where to find financial help for Lyme patients
- prevention tips
- instructions for how to properly remove a tick
- and more…
all based on research. Simply click below to check it out.
Practice Healthy Sleep Habits
Here are some basic tips for creating an environment conducive to sleep.
- Use natural, dim lighting in the evening.
- Practice relaxation or deep breathing techniques.
- Gentle stretching, such as yoga, can be relaxing.
- Cut back on screen time before you go to sleep.
- Create a quiet, dark, and comfy sleep environment.
- Consider using a white noise machine.
- Keep the temperature fairly low.
You might also enjoy listening to relaxing sleep music.
Summary: How To Sleep With Lyme Disease
When you’re dealing with Lyme sleep is crucial for recovery. But, Lyme symptoms can make it tough to sleep. The good news is that combining natural herbal therapies with healthy sleep habits can help.
Think of it from a holistic approach. There are several areas that may need to be addressed before you’re able to sleep optimally. But it’s often worth the effort to try a new herbal therapy. Or start getting outside more to breathe fresh air and move more (as your body allows).
It’s also essential to suppress the harmful microbes, reduce pain and inflammation, and restore the immune system. Working on normalizing the HPA axis can help as well.
I thought Dr. Rawls’ webinar was very informative. I’m already using some of the herbs he mentioned for various issues. But, because I’ve been having more sleep challenges lately, I’m going to try some more of these options to see how they help.
I hope you found this post helpful!
Dr. Rawls wrote one of the most comprehensive, helpful books on Lyme disease that I’ve read (and I think I’ve just about read them all). You can check it out here. He also offers herbal products on his website that have excellent reviews.
If you’d like to learn more about sleep, here are 16 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight.
And, to learn more about Lyme disease symptoms, please see Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease.
Do you or someone you know have Lyme and/or trouble sleeping? Have you tried any of these natural remedies for sleep? Leave your comments below!
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