Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Illness and Difficulty Sleeping

Poor sleep habits can quickly spiral into a neverending cycle of insomnia that is hard to break. Unfortunately, a continuous lack of sleep can also affect your health and overall well-being in numerous ways.

For those specifically who have a chronic illness, poor sleep habits can worsen your illness’s symptoms, which can also turn into a cycle of both poor sleep and poor health that nearly impossible to break out of. And for those who don’t have health issues, falling into bad sleep habits can increase your chances of developing a chronic illness down the road.

So, if you have a chronic illness and want to get better, or if you want to maintain your health and prevent disease in the future, breaking your cycle of poor sleep habits is the first place to start.

The Connection Between Sleep Habits and Your Health

While everyone complains about lack of sleep, it is not something to take lightly. Just because it’s common for others you know to also complain about feeling tired and not getting enough sleep does not mean it’s okay to let your sleep deprivation go untreated.

We all feel varying levels of fatigue that can lead to a lack of focus and a bad mood from time to time, but not getting enough sleep on a daily basis is a sign that you may have developed a sleep disorder. And genuine sleep deprivation can do much more than just make you grumpy and less productive in the mornings.

Medical research has shown that a regular lack of sleep can have long-term health consequences. Those who develop insomnia and suffer from poor sleep nightly can increase their chances of becoming obese, developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive issues, depression, and anxiety, and it can decrease their life expectancy.

People who struggle with sleep deprivation can also have issues with decreased eye and cognitive function. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can suffer from dry eyes, itchy eyes, and blurry vision, and you increase your chances of developing myopia and glaucoma. Poor sleep can also lead to long-term cognitive issues, such as difficulty focusing, making sound decisions, solving problems, and remembering things. Overall, continuous lack of sleep can severely impair your brain function and ability to reason.

Tips for Getting Better Sleep to Manage or Prevent Chronic Illness

So what can be done to break out of cycles of poor sleep?

Though insomnia itself can feel like a chronic illness that is impossible to get rid of, you can get rid of your sleep disorder by kicking bad habits. It can take some time, as you have to essentially retrain your body and mind to learn how to sleep properly again, but it’s not impossible.

1. Create a Calming Sleep Environment

Your bedroom can play a significant role in your sleep habits. For example, a disorganized bedroom that is messy all the time can increase your stress levels and make it harder to fall asleep. The lighting in your room and the color palette can also affect your mood, which can affect how calm you feel when you lie down to go to bed.

Screen use right before bed has also been shown to disrupt sleep. People today often scroll through social media on their phones before bed or watch TV in bed. But this can prevent your brain from relaxing and falling into a deep sleep, and it can strain your eyes.

So, it’s important to create a calming and relaxing sleep environment that is conducive to a good night’s sleep. This means cleaning up the clutter, using a calming color palette for decor, keeping electronics out of the bedroom if possible, upgrading to more comfortable bedding, blocking out light and noise, and keeping your room at an optimal sleep temperature (between 60-67 degrees).

2. Get Regular Exercise

If you often feel restless at night and struggle to feel tired, it could be a result of not getting enough exercise during the day. Our bodies are better regulated and healthier when we get some level of physical activity every day. Exercise also helps you destress and tires your body out, which means you will be more ready to sleep when the time comes.

Regular exercise can also help with certain chronic diseases that make it harder to sleep. Vein disease, for example, can result in pain and discomfort when you sleep. But getting daily exercise can help combat the symptoms of vein disease, which means you will experience less pain and discomfort when you go to sleep.

3. Be Mindful of What You Put In Your Body

Drugs, alcohol, and certain foods can all mess with your health and make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you regularly use substances like drugs and alcohol, it can hinder your body’s ability to regulate itself, which means it can be harder to regulate your sleep. Eating right before bed, especially spicy foods or anything else that will cause heartburn, can also keep you up at night.

So it’s crucial to eat right, avoid smoking and alcohol, and avoid eating meals late at night. Maintaining a healthy diet can also benefit people who already have chronic health issues. The healthier you are, the more you can manage your chronic illness and prevent it from disrupting your sleep.

4. Use Sleep Aids if Needed

Sleeps aids, like sound machines, can do wonders for some people who struggled to relax their mind and fall asleep at night. For some, a completely silent room is a must when they go to bed, but for others, silence can make it harder to sleep.

If you are one of those who doesn’t like complete silence at night and need some sort of sound to relax you, you could try using a sound machine as a sleep aid. Some machines use things like white noise, which is like a constant whirring or humming sound, similar to what you hear with fans or air conditioning units, while others use things like pink or brown noise, which include nature sounds like the wind blowing or thunderstorms and rainfall.

However, if you are using a sleep aid, just make sure it isn’t hindering your sleep. For example, some sound machines can your sleep and wake you up, so make sure you choose one disruptive with the right sounds that suit you. It’s also a good idea to choose one that allows you to set a timer, so it doesn’t run all night and wake you once you’ve already fallen asleep.

5. Start Setting a Strict Sleep and Wake Time

If you are the type to wake and fall asleep at varying times depending on your daily schedule, this could be hindering your sleep. Our bodies have an internal clock that regulates our sleep. So if you constantly change the times you fall asleep and wake up, it keeps that internal clock from working properly.

If you start waking and sleeping at the same time every day, however, you can start retraining your body to sleep better. Understandably, you can’t just force yourself to fall asleep on cue, but if you know you want to be asleep by 10 pm, you can get into bed at 9:30 to start winding down. And if you want to start waking up at a specific time, set an alarm clock and avoid hitting the snooze button. With time, this will help train your body to get back on schedule so that as soon as you crawl into bed, it knows it’s time to sleep.

Wrapping Up

Good sleep is essential to your health. Getting the right amount of sleep on a regular basis can improve your mental and physical health, and it can help you better manage your chronic illness or prevent disease in the future. If you have tried developing better sleep habits, like those mentioned above, and you are still struggling, you may need to talk to your doctor about Medications to help with insomnia. Or you can check out a sleep clinic that can look further into the issues you are having to help you find the right solution.

Physical health and sleep health go hand-in-hand. If you are experiencing poor sleep and tiredness during the day, you may have a sleep disorder. The first step to diagnosing and treating your sleep issue is contacting the Alaska Sleep Clinic @ 907-770-9104. Improve your sleep. Improve your life.

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