If you’re living with a chronic illness, you know that lack of sleep is a common problem. And while lack of sleep is often unavoidable when you’re dealing with a chronic illness, there are things you can do to improve your sleep habits and get the rest you need.
This week’s journal prompt takes a look at your sleep habits. Lack of sleep can make life with chronic illness more painful. Lack of sleep is something I no longer have in common with my chronically ill friends. After a decade of not sleeping, I learned how to create a sleep pattern/routine that works for me and my illnesses. Below are three ways sleeping well improves life with chronic illness, a few sleep tips, and a journal writing prompt to help you improve your sleep!
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Benefits of Sleeping Well with Chronic Illness
Improved Pain Tolerance
Chronic pain and fatigue are two symptoms that go hand-in-hand. When you don’t get enough sleep, your pain tolerance decreases, and you become more sensitive to pain. In contrast, when you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll find that your pain is more manageable. Adequate sleep gives your body time to heal and repair itself from the day’s activities.
Chronic inflammation can lead to a host of other health problems, such as joint pain, gastrointestinal issues, heart disease, and even cancer. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people who don’t get enough sleep have higher levels of inflammation than those who do. Getting enough ZZZs can help decrease inflammation and the risk of developing other chronic illnesses.
Boosted Immune System
Your immune system needs rest just like the rest of your body. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system cannot function properly. This puts you at an increased risk of contracting viruses and other infections. On the other hand, when you’re well-rested, your immune system is better equipped to fight off foreign invaders.
How to Improve Your Sleep
Set a regular sleep schedule.
One of the best things you can do for your sleep is to establish a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. While it may be tempting to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights, doing so will only make it harder to get up on time during the week. And if you’re struggling to get enough sleep during the week, those late nights will only make things worse.
Create a bedtime routine.
Just as young children need a bedtime routine to help them fall asleep, adults can also benefit from one. A bedtime routine might include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something that relaxes you and helps you wind down for the night.
Make your bedroom a soothing oasis.
When trying to improve your sleep habits, it’s important to create an environment conducive to sleep. This means making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. If possible, avoid working or using electronic devices in bed so that your bedroom becomes associated solely with sleep and relaxation. You may also want to consider using an eye mask or earplugs to block out any light or noise that could prevent you from falling asleep.
Are you ready for this week’s sleep journal prompt?
Things to think about:
- When did you sleep the best?
- Where have you experienced a great night’s sleep?
- What pain levels interrupt your sleep?
- What temperatures help you fall and stay asleep?
- Does the bedding you used when you slept well differ from what you use daily?
Chronic illness can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. This prompt is designed to help you reflect on times when you have been able to get good rest. Taking a moment to think about your best sleep can help you identify what conditions are necessary for you to get good rest. It can also help you troubleshoot problems you may be having with your current sleep routine. If you’re struggling to get enough rest, journaling about your best sleep can be a helpful first step in finding a solution.
If you’re living with a chronic illness, getting enough sleep should be a top priority. It may seem impossible to get a good night’s rest when you’re in constant pain or battling fatigue, but there are ways to make it happen. Creating a bedtime routine, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark are all helpful tips for getting the shut-eye you need to improve your chronic illness symptoms. And when all else fails, talk to your doctor about prescribing a sleep medication.
New to journaling?
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Check out my Printable Chronic Illness Life Journal!
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