Sleep & Chronic Illness

Because of the pain and fatigue often experienced with most chronic illnesses, it affects many areas of the person’s life including sleep.  Due to the nature of many chronic illnesses, these patients will have trouble sleeping at night, but will be exhausted and have trouble staying awake during the day.

Depression is also common among people with chronic illness and depression causes sleep issues.  Depending on the type of medications a person is on for their illness, this too can cause sleep disorders and problems.


Treating Sleep In Chronic Illness

One of the first steps that needs to be taken is controlling the pain in your chronic illness. Once pain levels are under control, sleep may come easier.

If a patient is still having trouble sleeping even after their pain is under control, try some of these tips:

  • Sleep in a dark room
  • Avoid naps during the day
  • Drink warm milk before bed
  • Keep the bedroom and surrouding areas quiet
  • Keep the bedroom cool

Prescription sleeping medications are also commonly used to treat chronically ill patients.  Some of the most popular sleep aids used are Ambien, Sonata & Lunesta.  Antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and Elavil are also used.

It is crucial for everyone to get enough sleep but even more so for chronically ill patients.  These patients’ bodies desperately need quality sleep in order to help fight their illnesses.

In some chronic illnesses, doctors will first treat the sleep disorders and then work on other symptoms that aren’t life threatening.  They do this because they feel that if they can get the patient’s sleep issues under control, many of their other symptoms will lessen.