photo of woman taking nap on sofa

Stress -- physical or emotional -- can make your myasthenia gravis symptoms worse. Proper rest is key in helping keep things under control. Here are some ways to be sure you’re getting the down time you need.

Prioritize sleep. Medications for myasthenia gravis, especially steroids, can make you feel wired. Your body may need more coaxing to sleep than usual, even though you’re tired. Focus on good sleep hygiene: Stick to a regular bedtime and wake time every day. Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Have a screen-free wind-down routine with relaxing practices like reading, taking a bath, or drinking hot tea. Keep your bedroom cool and dark to set the stage for sound sleep.

Take naps. No need to feel guilty about midday snooze sessions. Your body needs the rest. If you can work it in, lie down, turn off your phone, and grab some ZZZs to help your body relax.

Schedule stillness. If you can schedule breaks in your day, do it. Spend that time resting your body and mind: meditate, do some gentle stretching, or simply sit in silence.

Pace yourself. Have a task to do? Plan it for a time of day when you know you’ll have the most energy. Slice it into smaller to-dos, if possible, so you don’t overextend yourself all at once.

Be body smart. Think about the ways you’re using your body during the day. Could you be sitting while you cook or brush your teeth? Could you lie down while on phone calls? Any chance you can give your body a break, take it.

Use tools. Many stores have scooters you can use when you shop. Talk to your doctor about whether a cane, walker, or wheelchair could give you more comfort during your daily activities. You can also apply to have a handicap sticker for your car so you can park closer to shop entrances.

Let machines do the work. Take stock of the things you use in the home. See if you can swap manual appliances for automatic options, like can openers, mixers, and toothbrushes. Use your dishwasher instead of washing by hand. Consider a countertop hair dryer instead of one you hold.

Talk to your employer. If your job is physically stressful, you may want to bring your employer into the loop. Ask if there are ways to make temporary adjustments in how long you work, physical activity required in your job, or the number of shifts you take. You may also be eligible to apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits.

Rest your eyes. Try not to stare at screens or read for long periods of time. Give your eye muscles a chance to recharge, too. 

Ask for help. Think through your day and figure out what tasks and activities you could outsource or ask for assistance with. If possible, find someone to walk your dog, pick up groceries, or take out the trash. If it fits your budget, a cleaning service can help you keep things tidy around your home so you can save your energy instead of scrubbing and sweeping.

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SOURCES:

National Library of Medicine: “Myasthenia Gravis.”

Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America: “Sleep Right, Sleep Tight,” “Wellness strategies.”

Rush University Medical Center: “Living With Myasthenia Gravis.”