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Sleeping With Eczema

Tonya B. | Nutrition Counselor, Mother of 2

Actual Eczema Sufferer

I think the day after a sleepless night is something anyone can relate to. We all occasionally wrestle with the sandman; the fallout from one of these nights is usually the worst part. For me, being the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old with another baby on the way, the day after a night of tossing and turning can be particularly rough.

I don’t wake up a chipper mom ready to begin the day; instead, I drag my feet and hunt for some coffee. My daughter is used to me being a little bit lazy in the morning, but I feel bad that I am extra tired after a sleepless night. The worst part is that my toddler doesn’t understand why I’m in such a grumpy mood; she deserves a happy and present mommy.

My insomnia is unique in that it is caused by the symptoms of my atopic dermatitis. When I’m itchy, falling asleep can be hard. When I’m lying in bed at night trying to relax, it is a different situation: trying to be still, trying to turn my mind off for the day, trying to not think about the itching. I scratch throughout the day and often don’t think twice about it, but at night my undistracted mind exacerbates the irritation I feel. Before I know it, an hour has passed with me lying there in bed scratching. My gracious husband does not complain, yet I often feel bad for the disruption I may be causing. My tossing and turning often lasts through the night, and sometimes I must wake up to remoisturize my skin or change clothes in an attempt to be more comfortable.

So, to stay on top of my symptoms and avoid disturbed sleep, I have developed some tips and tricks that work for me:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime routine. I tell my body that it’s time for sleep by limiting my use of electronics before bed. As tempting as it is to scroll through social media to distract myself from the itching, the light from electronic devices can work as a stimulant.
  • Have a calming cup of tea before bed. Chamomile, lemon, and ginger—oh, my! A little cup of tea goes a long way in helping me relax before bed.
  • Some lighthearted reading material. I love reading recipes in cooking magazines to lull myself to sleep, though sometimes that makes me too hungry! When that happens, I turn to young adult fiction. It may not be meant for my age range, but John Green knows how to tell a soothing tale.
  • Journal about the day. Sometimes I look up journal prompts to get myself started. Other times I just make lists. It’s helpful just to get everything off my mind and onto the page.
  • Check the thermostat to ensure it is set at a comfortable temperature. Lightweight, cotton pajamas and layers also help to keep my body climate controlled.
  • Take advantage of soothing soundscapes. I use apps on my phone to listen to relaxing bedtime stories and guided meditations. Eczema Exposed also has great soundscapes and videos that can help guide me to a restful night’s sleep.

This is just my experience and others may have different experiences.

I am still learning what works for me when it comes to symptom management, and I never know for sure when I’ll have a good night’s sleep. What I do know for sure is that when I get the rest I need, I’m able to be a better mom and wife. I have the focus and energy I need to appreciate the beautiful family that I have. That is worth every grain of Epsom salt in the world.

Caregiver and patient stories reflect personal stories. Individual experiences may vary.