SLEEP STAGE MONITORING
Folks with fibromyalgia often have difficulty with deep sleep, Fitbit can help.
After wearing mine for almost two years, I’ve discovered that I cannot function with less than an hour of deep sleep a night, and that in order to feel really good, I need about an hour and a half. Curiously, the time I go to bed has a huge effect on how much deep sleep I am able to get. If I shut my lights off after 9:30 pm, I tend to get less. The sweet spot for me is heading to bed between 9-9:30, which feels unfairly early, but I don’t let this knowledge rule my life. If I want to see a late show or spend time with a friend, going into that social engagement with the knowledge that I might be a bit impaired the next day is really helpful. As long as I go to bed in that range most nights, I feel good about my life choices.
CARDIO/HEART RATE ZONES
As someone with fibromyalgia, I deal with exercise intolerance. I can’t just spontaneously jump into an intense workout without preparation. My increases in length and intensity have to be incremental and gentle, or I will have a flare of fatigue and soreness that will make any movement over the next few days fairly challenging. Using my Fitbit helps me monitor my active minutes and knowing how long my heart is in the cardio zone keeps me from pushing myself too hard.
I also know that I achieve a greater percentage of deep sleep if my heart rate gets into the cardio zone that same day, which is fantastic motivation for getting on my Bellicon rebounder for cardio bouncing. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my beloved rebounder any why I think it’s a great option for folks with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome, or other conditions that involve exercise intolerance.)
More and more studies show that sitting all day can be a risk factor for disease, but what do you do when you’re exhausted and dealing with a flare of pain and/or fatigue? I’m less motivated to get up and move regularly when all I want to do is stay underneath my weighted blanket. I can set movement reminders for up to 14 hours a day. The Fitbit will buzz my wrist if I haven’t yet achieved 250 steps within a specified hour. For those of us with fibromyalgia, keeping our circulation going (which is really important) can be a challenge, and this reminder to move is a gentle push. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get in all of the steps, and sometimes I really can’t do it. More times than not, however, the external reminder is a helpful motivator.
Some people claim to be sensitive to the electromagnetic field (EMF) that wearables emit, and their experiences are valid. There are so few studies on the effects of EMF radiation that they are often dismissed. If you have an autoimmune disease or other chronic illness, you might understand how getting a proper diagnosis can be a long and frustrating process, because the science hasn’t yet caught up with what you know to be true about your body. So far, I have not had symptoms that make me think I’m affected by it, but I’m open to changing my mind if presented with new information. Until recently, fibromyalgia was considered a garbage diagnosis. There are studies showing measurable inflammation in the brain and reduced Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the muscles, confirming that these symptoms have a real biological cause, and understanding in the medical community has grown. Perhaps the same will happen for folks who feel they are sensitive to EMF.
Luckily, my overall health and symptoms have improved since beginning to wear my activity tracker. I take a few nights off per week, and don’t know if it’s something I’ll use forever, but it’s working for me now and I’ll continue to use it as long as that’s still the case.
The pressure of the Whoop wristband set off my fibromyalgia symptoms, as I have a sensitivity to tight jewelry and clothing (plus, Whoop requires a 6-month membership fee). The Apple Watch has too many notifications and wasn’t efficient for tracking sleep. The Oura Ring, which I REALLY wanted to work for me for their sleep metrics since it’s not really an activity tracker, was extremely painful to wear when I tried out their sizing kit. Fitbit is the most unobtrusive on my body and I honestly often forget I’m wearing it. They all have their positives and negatives, so if you’re interested in tracking your sleep, recovery or activity, I encourage you to research which works for your own needs. The best activity tracker for you is out there, and it might even be one that I haven’t mentioned!
(For reference, I currently use the Fitbit Inspire HR, but its been discontinued. The Inspire 2 is the same price as the HR with several improvements. If I were to purchase the best Fitbit for myself based on the models currently available, I’d get the Luxe or the Inspire 2.)