A few years ago a friend of mine, whose mother had died after being bedridden for an extended time, approached me about her circulating-air bed. She no longer needed it and wondered if I would like to give it a try. As she explained it, the bed was an air mattress with a pump that would re-circulate the air into alternating cells. It was made to prevent bedsores, but she thought it might help me with reducing my pain as well. Intrigued, I accepted her offer. It was a breakthrough for me, and has greatly improved my sleep.
I have had fibromyalgia for 20+ years. With that comes the symptom, tactile hyperesthesia: a sensation of pain due to “non-noxious stimuli”. That means, in my case, that the normal, everyday pressure and compression caused by a chair, or bed, or even tight clothing, upon my skin and muscles creates undue pain. I cannot bear to sit on a wooden or hard plastic bench or chair. I must have considerable padding on whatever I sit or lie on, and even then I can only endure the pressure for a limited amount of time. You can imagine what that means when trying to get a good night’s sleep. I had been sleeping on an air mattress with a memory-foam pad for several years, and still had great difficulty sleeping through the pain.
The unit my friend gave me is a Genesis II Circulating Air Pump and Pad System by Rosco Medical. Perhaps you can find it on ebay or elsewhere as a used unit as well. I was able to spread the pad in between my air mattress and memory foam with no difficulty. (You would not want to use the plastic pad without at least a thick mattress pad or quilting covering it. It will retain your body moisture and make you sweaty otherwise.) The periodic sound of the circulating air is easy to adjust to. While the pump emits a constant soft rumble, I don’t really notice it at night; nor do I notice the changing pressure underneath me most of the time. The pad has cells that hold the air in an alternating pattern that periodically empty and refill every few minutes.
Because I can only sleep on my back due to a whiplash injury and sensitive shoulders, my gluteus maximus muscles take the brunt of the weight all night from the mattress. The alternating pressure throughout the night seems to provide just enough relief to allow me to sleep around eight hours each night. This is very good news for a fibromyalgic, as so much depends on sleep quality to cope with day-to-day energy and pain levels.
This is a natural alternative to prescription sleeping aids and pain medication, which can cause side effects and tolerance problems. I have been able to stop taking my sleep meds completely after many years of use. Now I don’t deal with dizziness, dry mouth, and rising tolerance (requiring higher dosages) from the drugs I used to take. Yesss!
While I am sure the designer of this medical product did not have this situation in mind, it certainly is a good application for anyone suffering from similar pain symptoms and struggling with poor sleep.