The Importance of Sleep & How to Wind Down While Living with a Chronic Illness

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Anyone who suffers from a chronic illness knows that getting enough sleep is this perfect catch- 22 scenarios. It can be difficult to get high-quality shut-eye when you struggle with painful or disruptive symptoms. On the flip side, it’s also tough to go about your day when you’re constantly sleep deprived. For those living with conditions like fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis, creating a routine that helps you wind down for a successful and restful night is important.

Importance of Sleep

While we sleep, our bodies can get some serious work done. Hormones are released that repair damaged cells, from bones to muscles to organs. For anyone with a chronic illness, this process is especially important. On top of the physical downsides of too few Z’s, there are plenty of mental health repercussions as well. Poor quality sleep can make issues like depression and anxiety worse during waking hours. It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral when you’re constantly tired, leading to bad decisions about healthy food and exercise — two proven methods of combating symptoms of many diseases.

Pencil It In

Actually go ahead and bust out that permanent marker for this one. The first step is to prioritize your sleep schedule over as much as possible. That doesn’t just mean the hours when you’re supposed to be asleep, but the time leading up to it as well. Once you create a system to wind down for bed, stick to it as much as possible. There will be times when a big event disrupts your plans, but make that an outlier rather than the norm.

Unplug

This isn’t just an encouragement to quit staring at screens before bed (though the research on blue light is pretty clear). You need to start disengaging from thoughts about work, to-do lists, and responsibilities before your head hits the pillow. You don’t need to be mentally going through the items in your pantry to make a shopping list. You don’t have to plan out the opening lines of a presentation the next day in the office. All you need to do is put your sleep first. Without high-quality sleep, it’s tough to get a handle on any other part of our lives. Take the time to figure out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to prioritize what you need.


Peer Health can connect you with a personalized peer community to share provider recommendations, treatment options, and define your best life. Sign up for our beta and newsletter today.

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