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Time Change Equals Jet Lag, ME/CFS Style

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Phoenix Rising Team, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Phoenix Rising Team

    Phoenix Rising Team

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    Jody Smith marvels at how much difference one hour can make to those with ME/CFS, as much of the world has endured The Time Change in recent weeks ...


    here I live, we recently went through a time change, compliments of Daylight Savings Time. Having ME/CFS, I don't need to travel anywhere to get jet lag. I just need the clock to be turned ahead, or backward by one hour.

    I know that not everyone lives according to Daylight Savings Time but it happens twice a year in much of the world. Do you experience a crash that happens to occur after one of the time changes of the year?

    The one that took place this past November really rocked my household. My son Jesse, who has ME/CFS as well, had been enjoying something approaching more regular sleep for awhile and then ... everything got tossed in the air once more.

    My husband Alan, who has FM, also went from sleeping pretty well for several months to being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep once more. He'd had success with a few sleep aids in the past, and took valerian and Rescue Remedy for a few weeks.

    You might think that having the clock set backward by an hour shouldn't be so bad, that it might seem like you've gained an hour. But my naturopath Dr. Kelly Upcott told me that in her experience, more of her patients are disrupted by the autumn time change than the one in the spring when we "lose" an hour.

    It took Jesse a good month or more to regain the ground he'd lost last fall. I don't think that one hit me in a noticeable way but a couple of weeks ago when we went on Daylight Savings Time, I struggled with a mini-crash and am still slowly coming out of it. And both Jesse and Alan have been struggling. They are both very fragile when it comes to being able to sleep at "normal" hours and this shift shatters them.

    I actually sleep pretty well most of the time these days. The sudden new fatigue and fogginess really caught me by surprise this month. I thought at first it had to do with some busy-ness that had been going on at the time. But that type of thing doesn't usually have this kind of effect on me anymore, fortunately.

    I wondered if I was getting the flu -- something else that doesn't usually happen to me. I am one of the ME/CFS subset that doesn't tend to get colds or flu that last more than a day or two before symptoms shut down ... though they will sometimes lead to a crash instead.

    Think I'd rather have the cold or flu, at least they end within a couple of weeks. These crashes in lieu of colds or flu tend to go on, sometimes for months.

    The day after the spring time change, I was tired, and felt a little unsettled, my body clock and the clock on my computer didn't jibe. We tried the usual things here in our household, trying to make the changes gradually over a few days ... but that wasn't helping either.

    The head fog began to move in, first just a bit of mist but within a few days I was floundering, and things got worse over the next few weeks. I had to put some things off, stop stuff I had been doing, spent time in bed in the afternoons, which I hadn't had to do since ... well, since the last time change, perhaps.

    Vibrating and swirling sensations in my hands, arms, and face made their unwelcome appearance after having been mostly absent for a long time. Mild vertigo accompanied by a slightly drunk feeling that I might bump into things made it hard to move around and get things done.

    I found myself once again experiencing air hunger, breathing in great sighing gusts of air, and breathing out forcefully, as if I was trying to clear something. And I was tired. So tired.

    So what do you do, right?

    The usual. Gear down. Lay down. Quit thinking about things. Avoid taking on anything new. Curtail activity and make sure to take rest breaks after ridiculously small and normally easy things.

    It has been working. Again. It has frustrated me. Again.

    I am lucky, though, and I know it. I am pretty sure (is anyone every really sure?) that this is not going to last if I handle things ruthlessly and carefully. My Not To Do list is longer than normal and only the essentials are on my To Do list for now.

    It's a good thing there is a half a year before the next time change comes and throws a party in my head.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2014
    liverock, rosie26 and aimossy like this.
  2. rosie26

    rosie26 Senior Member

    Hi Jody :)
    Our clocks go back an hour tonight. I am sleeping better at the moment so will be able to deal with it a lot better than previous years. When I was in the awful grip of severe insomnia - they were long days and nights - for years. We are in autumn now and on our way to winter, once the cooler temperatures arrive and I start shivering - I will deteriorate as usual. It is hard to keep warm.

    I have a drafty house due to some louver windows that never seem to close properly. Last year I bought some thick clear tape and taped the windows - what a job. But it was worth it. Electricity is so expensive. It's hard to keep the house warm everywhere.
    Hope you are still resting as much as possible Jody, to lesson further deterioration. Hope you pick up soon :hug:
  3. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    My sympathies about the coming cold weather for you. Up in the northern hemisphere, we are just beginning to come out of our winter.

    Do you keep your feet well protected in the cold season? I wear two sweaters, etc. in winter but used to have cold feet from not having adequate protection between the floor and my feet. I have since learned to never go barefoot in the house even in summer, and always keep the ol' tootsies toasty. Two pairs of socks and a thick knee-high pair of woollen slippers to boot ( a little footwear humour:)).

    It seems to make a difference, keeps me warmer all over and also decreases the pain, aches and inflammation in my feet and legs.

    Good idea taping your windows. If you have drafts under doors, you could roll up towels or blankets in front of them to keep the cold out and the warm in.
    rosie26 likes this.
  4. Misfit Toy

    Misfit Toy Senior Member

    Losing an hour is a real issue for me. Gaining one is great! More sleep, but the Spring time change messes me up big time.
    rosie26 likes this.
  5. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

    Misfit Toy,

    The only advantage is that it's light till later in the evening. But the adjustment is hard.
    rosie26 likes this.
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Senior Member

    I didn't really notice a difference by changing the clock except a feeling of happiness that winter was finally over. ME folks aren't the only people affected by daylight savings time. My sister is perfectly healthy and she feels that extra hour more than anyone else I know. Takes her about a week to get back to normal.
    Jody likes this.
  7. liverock

    liverock Senior Member

    The only way is to adopt an anarchistic frame of mind,refuse to accept the time alteration and declare your own time zone. All it takes is a load of 'Post It' labels for all your clocks to remind you of the official time. I find after 6 months or so the authorities usually see sense and will go back to your time and you can take the labels down. ;) :D :)
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
    Little Bluestem, Jody and rosie26 like this.
  8. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

    Healthy people generally have more trouble with the spring time change. It causes you to shift your body clock back, which is more difficult for most people.

    I knew that I had sleep problems long before I knew that I had CFS, so I read up on the subject. When sleep specialists want to adjust someone's sleep cycle, they have then shift the time that they go to bed and the time that they get up forward.

    When I first read about it, they were having people shift on hour each day. That meant a log of sleeping during the day and being awake at night. I was still working at the time, so could not try it (and given the ME, it probably would not have worked). I have since read that they now have people shift three hours each day.

    For shifting the sleep cycle backwards one hour in the spring, they recommend shifting 15 minutes every 3 days.
    Jody likes this.

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