5 Sleep Tips To Help Your Chronic Illness

5 Sleep Tips To Help People With Chronic Illness Sleep Better And Ease Pain
A guest post by Jennifer Scott of SpiritFinder.org

alarm clock

5 Tips To Help People With Chronic Illness Sleep Better And Ease Pain
By Jennifer Scott of SpiritFinder.org

People with chronic illness and those who experience chronic pain, which can be directly associated with a disability or not, often have trouble sleeping at night. Getting more sleep at night can help ease chronic pain.

“We think that sleep loss and pain both increase levels of inflammatory markers, but getting more sleep may help decrease this inflammation,” says Dr. Thomas Roth, senior scientist of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, which conducted a study on the relationship between sleep and chronic pain.

With this in mind, here are some tips to people with chronic illness ease their sleeping woes and ultimately live a more comfortable life.


Getting enough exercise is so important to numerous aspects of a healthy life, but one that you might not immediately think of is improved sleep.

“Exercise every day,” says Mark Jensen, PhD and Alexandra Terrill,   PhD in their paper “How to Sleep Better,” published by the University of Washington Aging and Physical Disability RRTC. “People with disabilities who exercise regularly report fewer sleep problems. This effect may be due, at least in part, to the known benefits of regular exercise on reducing depression and anxiety.”

It’s also natural for your body to want to rest after an active day. As an added bonus, exercise is good for your heart and your body in general.

Avoid Pre-Bedtime TV

televisionFor many people, regardless of ability or disability, television before bedtime is almost second nature. It’s relaxing to let the burdens of everyday life fade away for a bit while watching a movie or your favorite shows. While there’s nothing wrong with a little screen entertainment, it’s in the best interest of a better night’s sleep to refrain from it directly before bedtime.

“Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing,” says Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A. in their guide to better sleep. “Try listening to music or audio books instead.”

Avoid Certain Substances Before Bed

Sometimes getting to sleep is just a matter of not ingesting troublesome substances that can keep you up. Without getting into medications and illegal drugs, some things to avoid in the hours just before bed are:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar
  • Acidic foods (i.e. tomato sauce, citrus), as they can lead to heartburn and/or acid reflux.

Get Up On Time

Getting your body on a regular schedule can work wonders for improved sleep. Regardless of whether you have to get up for work, school, or any other reason, you should try to get up at the same time every day. That even goes for weekends. Likewise, you should try to go to bed at the same time each night for the same reason. Use an alarm to get up, but make sure if it’s from a glowing clock, it’s hidden from your view so the light doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

Get Out More

That may sound over-generalized, but the fact is that getting more sunlight has been shown to have a positive effect on sleep. This stems from increased vitamin D production as well as sunlight’s benefits for serotonin and melatonin production. It may pay in more ways than you think to get some outdoors time into your regular schedule. It can even help steer your mind away from depression.

Any lifestyle changes that you can make that lead to a better night’s sleep have a good chance of contributing to less pain in the waking hours. Knowing what helps you sleep at night can make a world of difference.


Did you miss our News You Can Use article on Sleep Hygiene? Sleep is an important part of Chronically Awesome self-care. There are never too many sleep tips available for the chronically ill.Thank you, Jennifer Scott, for your further contribution to this important topic.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your contribution to ChronicallyAwesome.org and to our Facebook Page cabloggersChronicallyAwesomeBloggers . If you are interested in contributing a news article, resources, or a blog, please email contact@chronicallyawesome.org. We would love to work with you!

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3 thoughts on “5 Sleep Tips To Help Your Chronic Illness

  • Doing all these things sounds so easy. I am so depressed I can’t do it… I want to sleep at night. Not during the day… I can’t get out of bed

    • Have you talked to your doctor about this? Maybe this is more of a fatigue problem. I had the same issue and it turned out to be about fatigue, not about sleep or depression. I would mention it to my doctor in terms of fatigue and see where you get. I hope that helps. I am sorry you are having so much trouble.

  • Those are all things I aspire to do with the exception of pre-bedtime TV. I love horror films and they will calm down my anxiety, distract me from my depression and help me sleep. It’s a bit weird, I know, but if I wake up and hear some Disney type movie, that’s the only thing that will make me move out of bed to change the channel. But, an organized sleep, eat, exercise, morning alarm schedule – I will tell myself every day, I am going to work on that tomorrow. I think it’s all about temporary disciplining yourself into doing for yourself what does temporarily feel to be uncomfortable and what we don’t want to do or put off, but the end results I know are worth it. It is a priority I know I need to work on, I would get much more done and it would help my depression. Change is not easy. Now this song is coming into my head
    “Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues
    And you know it don’t come easy
    You don’t have to shout or leap about
    You can even play them easy…”
    Why I don’t know!

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