Sleep is a vital part of our lives. It improves overall health and well-being. Getting enough sleep or proper rest can improve physical and mental health and quality of life. Sleep helps the body repair itself and helps it get ready for another day. Many factors such as smoking, special diet, shift-based work, caffeine consumption, etc affect sleep. Chronic illness and some health conditions can also have a negative impact on sleep.
Chronic illnesses are those that cannot be cured, but can be controlled. Examples include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, lupus, HIV, cancer, asthma and multiple sclerosis. These chronic conditions can lead to sleep disorders. Other common conditions such as heartburn, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, thyroid and musculoskeletal disease also cause sleep disorders.
How does chronic illness lead to sleep problems?
People with chronic illness feel pain and fatigue, and this can lead to sleep problems. Some medicines that use to treat chronic illnesses can also cause sleep disorders. The stress and anxiety that occur due to the chronic illness cause insomnia and daytime drowsiness, and this can worsen a person’s pain and quality of life.
How are sleep disorders treated?
To get enough sleep, the first thing you need to do is follow your doctor’s advice regarding how to control your pain linked to chronic illness. If you need any pain-relieving medicine, your doctor will prescribe that. When you are able to control your pain, sleep may not be a problem. But if you are still experiencing sleep problems, these simple strategies may help:
- Avoid caffeine content foods and drinks.
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Keep the room temperature as comfortable as possible.
- Eat or drink foods that induce sleep.
- Keep down noise in the bedroom and surrounding areas.
- Practice meditation.
Non-medicinal approaches can also help with the issue, so consider consulting a psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders. Therapies used may include:
- Relaxation training.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Biofeedback – harnessing the power of mind and becoming aware what happens inside your body and will help to gain more control over your health and promote relaxation.
- Sleep restriction techniques.
If it is not the pain, the depression and anxiety linked to chronic illness can cause sleep disorders. Try to stay positive and confident and allow your body to rest. Not taking steps to get enough sleep can worsen your illness. It will also cause lack of alertness, decline in productivity and memory, and trigger hormonal changes that will lead to mood swings, and more. Here are some ways to relax your mind:
- Do something small for someone.
- Do little things for yourself.
- Make plans with friends and talk with them.
- Watch programs that make you feel good.
- Eat good food.
All this can help you to stay positive and motivated, and reduce your depression and anxiety, which will ultimately help you get enough sleep and rest.
If these methods don’t have the desired effects, prescription pills may help. But doctors generally don’t prescribe sleep medicines for long periods of time as these products come with side effects and can be addictive. It can also be unsafe to take sleeping pills if you have certain health problems. So, try the simple strategies listed above and it they don’t help, follow your doctor’s advice on how to deal with your sleep problem.