Trouble sleeping is a common enough problem for healthy people. But for many living with chronic health issues, getting a good night's sleep can be even more challenging.
People dealing with ongoing pain or nervous system problems, who are depressed, or taking certain medications, can find their sleep is profoundly affected.
WebMD.com said that Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease are chronic conditions that can contribute to sleep disorders.
Many people with chronic illnesses can't sleep at night and are fatigued during the day, especially people suffering from neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Lack of sleep over a long period of time can make for increased pain levels and decreased quality of life.
Some drugs for chronic illnesses can cause problems with sleep.To complicate the situation further, according to the CDC said that sleep problems can also help bring on, or worsen, some chronic conditions. Some of these conditions are depression, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity.
If pain is a problem, finding ways to decrease or control pain can go a long way towards getting some sleep at night. Finding ways to ease pain can be a major challenge in and of itself, and the means to lessen pain will vary from condition to condition, and from individual to individual.
If sleep still won't come after controlling pain, WebMD.com suggested a number of lifestyle changes that may help.
A dark quiet room is the best environment for sleep.
If possible don't nap during the day.
Only take in foods late in the day that will help you sleep. Warm milk works for some people. Avoid caffeine.
Keep the temperature of your room comfortable.
WebMD.com also recommended some methods which are usually monitored by a psychologist who is a sleep disorder specialist, and which don't involve drugs. These include biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training and sleep restriction techniques.
If you need to take prescription medication, WebMD.com listed some options. The list includes sleeping pills, antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics and benzodiazepenes.
The CDC reported that the National Sleep Foundation recommends that children should get 10-11 hours of sleep, adolescents need 8.5-9.5 hours, and adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Lifestyle tips from the CDC for getting enough sleep include making bedtime the same time each night, and getting up at the same time each day.
Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and a big meal should be avoided as bedtime approaches.
Sleeping pills may sometimes be necessary, but WebMD.com recommended trying other means first, or using sleeping medications for no more than two weeks at a time. This is because sleeping pills can create a tolerance for the drug and can result in becoming psychologically dependent on the pills.
Sleep and Chronic Illness. Webmd.com. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
Sleep and Chronic Illness Guide. Webmd.com. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic. CDC.gov. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
Reviewed March 25, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN