Guide: How to sleep Better with a Chronic Illness

Last Updated on June 7, 2024

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

Achieving the best night of sleep possible is extremely important when battling to find relief from a continuing health condition. To realize how to sleep with a chronic illness it is important to understand treatments and tips for sleeping better with specific ailments.

I. How Chronic Illness Affects Sleep

II. 6 Illness Treatments and Sleep

III. Sleep Better with a Quality Mattress

Living with an enduring illness during waking hours is bad enough, but, toss in sleepless nights caused by ailments and one’s quality of life is drastically disturbed. Conditions ranging from diabetes, to heart disease, and depression can all have a drastic impact on one’s quality of sleep. Many even suffer from sleep problems caused by multiple health issues.

The lack of sleep only makes daily living more difficult and signs of improving health a distant dream. Knowledge for treatment, along with the aid of a comfortable mattress certainly significant factors to getting one on their way to finding some relief to sleeping problems with chronic illness.

I. How Chronic Illness Affects Sleep

It is first important to understand what a chronic illness is. Yes, a cold or the flu may also cause discomfort and keep one awake, but, these have an end in sight at which point comfortable slumber is once again found. A habitual affliction is one that is usually never ending with no cure.

Several types of ailments that are chronic sleep disturbers include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, back issues, multiple sclerosis, obesity, and depression. Often people with a difficult illness will also be dealing with the double whammy of anxiety caused depression brought on by continuing pain and sleep disturbance. To make matters worse, often medications used to treat some conditions can actually-work adversely to cause insomnia problems.

Whether simply pain, or illnesses that directly affect the nervous system causing sleep troubles, one living with a chronic illness suffers consistently from the impact of sleep disturbed nights. These are conditions that sufferers must learn to live with and control in order to find as much comfort possible. People with continuing pain and sickness are constantly attempting to discover a balance to control their condition, while also being able to achieve the allusive slumber that helps to heal.

II. 6 Illness Treatments and Sleep

Chronic illness can range from just about everything including life ending diseases to life-long auto immune disorders, and mental illnesses. It is important to understand one’s illness to properly treat it for as much pain relief and sleep comfort as possible.

1) Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to produce insulin in the proper manner. The result is higher blood glucose levels that disturb the correct way the body is supposed to use insulin. Type one diabetes causes the pancreas to not produce the normal insulin which means that insulin must be taken daily by patient. Those with type two diabetes means that their bodies are producing some insulin but still not a normal amount to allow the body to use it properly.

Blood sugar affected by the poor insulin levels are what can affect problems with sleep. Symptoms resulting from high blood sugar include increased craving for fluids and food, along with more frequent urination. Low blood sugar can cause one to be dizzy and experience sweating. These can commonly cause disturbed sleep waking one throughout the night.

Keeping diabetes in check with the help of a medical professional’s care, along with diet, will help one to stay asleep and enjoy a peaceful slumber.

2) Cardiovascular Disease

Blood is kept healthily moving through the body by way of the heart working as a pump. At the same time the heart pumps oxygen and nutrients throughout it also works to remove waste and unneeded carbon dioxide.

Cardiovascular disease occurs when the heart, or any components surrounding it – such as arteries and other blood vessels – are damaged causing the heart to not pump properly. This disease is a common killer affecting tens of thousands of people each year worldwide.

Heart disease can cause sleep problems for several reasons. Those with heart failure may have buildup of fluid in the lungs which can cause trouble with breathing that can wake one up. Others with cardiovascular disease can suffer from sleep disturbing chest pain during rest – known as nocturnal angina. Another condition known as atrial fibrillation, that causes one to feel as if their heart is racing, can also wake one from slumber.

The breathing problem of sleep apnea has also been seen to be a result of heart disease. This will cause a sleeper to wake several times a night. It is very important to follow a doctor’s care when dealing with cardiovascular disease. To keep fluids from backing up, causing one to wake, relief can be found by sleeping with a raised head. Sleeping on an adjustable bed frame can help those find comfort – keeping lungs clearer and breathing normal.

3) Arthritis

Arthritis is the umbrella name for over a 100 of different types of arthritis and conditions that cause joint pain. Arthritis affects all ages with different severity from very mild and transient discomfort to extreme pain. Those with the chronic illness can suffer from severe joint pain causing disability and major discomfort when attempting to sleep.

A medical professional can prescribe medications to help relieve pain and inflammation but often sufferers need other treatments to help sooth to have a fitful siesta. Many health experts are now recommending a diet without the inflammation causing gluten and dairy.

Both heat and ice can help ease arthritis pain. A soak in a whirlpool tub or a hot shower is a nice way to sooth joint aches for hopes of an ache less slumber. Snuggling with a heating pad or an electric blanket can also calm joint pain. In some cases, icing an area may help more than heat. For joint pain in the knees and hips, and adjustable bed base that allows for the legs to be elevated will help in taking pressure off the sore joints to allow some sleep comfort.

4) Multiple Sclerosis

Loss of nerve cells is ultimately what causes the anguish of symptoms, including severe fatigue, that those with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) suffer with. MS is caused when the immune system in the body strikes and destroys the membrane known as myelin. This membrane works to protect the axons as well as haste the transmission of electrical impulses affecting nerve fibers. Scarring and nerve cell damage occurs when the myelin is annihilated.

MS can have different degrees of progression but ultimately can be very debilitating. Symptoms of the chronic illness includes paralysis, depression, memory loss, fatigue, along with vision and balance problems. It can also cause issues with bladder and bowel control. Over half of those afflicted with MS have problems sleeping.

The sleep difficulties are commonly a result caused by bladder troubles, spasticity, and the pain of attempting to move one’s position. With the agony of MS, patients also often experience sleep disturbing depression.

Bladder issues causing a need to urinate frequently during the night, known as nocturia, can cause major sleep disturbance. In addition to medications that a doctor can prescribe it is recommended to cut out caffeinated drinks that work to stimulate the bladder. Also recommended is to stop any alcohol and fluid intake three hours before bedtime.

Tight and rigid muscles are common for MS. This symptom is known as spasticity, which can be very painful and cause extreme discomfort that hinders slumber. Stretching and exercising can help, along with physical therapy and medications.

Humans normally move throughout the night to relieve pressure from body parts. Healthy individuals will do this without realizing any sleep interruption. Since MS causes pain to the skin, tissues, and joints with movement, the simple action of stirring during sleep is enough to cause insomnia for the stricken. Simply by installing a bed rail can help a MS sufferer have a better ease of movement in bed to offer more sleep comfort.

5) Obesity

Obesity and sleep can be a vicious cycle. Research has indicated that poor sleep routines can actually-lead to weight gain, while the very overweight person can have issues that will affect a peaceful night of sleep.

There are more causes for obesity then simply eating too much and poorly. Hormone problems, metabolic diseases, and plain genetics can all lead to major weight issues. In addition, researchers have concluded that poor sleep habits cause a disruption in the body’s neurological performance. Obesity can lead to heart disease, breathing problems, sleep apnea, and acid reflux.

Losing weight and getting active should help provide help in achieving better sleep.The overweight person can also achieve a better sleep by keeping the head raised to assist in better breathing, and reduce both sleep apnea and acid reflux. An adjustable bed frame, that comfortably keeps the head in a raised position, is the perfect foundation to help the obese person get a good night’s rest.

6) Depression

The mood disorder of depression can be short-lived resulting from a life event or a diagnosed as a chronic illness that ebbs and flows but never ends. Sadness is what drives this condition and often impedes normal living – including, issues with appetite and sleep.

Although some depressed may be seen as sleeping too much, their time in bed is more tossing and turning as they hide from the world under the covers. In fact, insomnia is a big symptom of depression. Depression should be treated by a medical professional. Once the type of depression is diagnosed, treatments should include talk therapy – with medications if needed. As the mood becomes elevated with proper management, sleep should become easier and healthier.

III. Sleep Better with a Quality Mattress

Living every day with a debilitating ailment can be draining for one’s overall lifestyle. Making it worse is sleeping problems with chronic illness only add to the day to day struggles. Understanding one’s situation is most important in order to take control of treatment options and discover what will help overcome sleep disorders with chronic illness.

Sleeping on a comforting GhostBed Luxe mattress with cooling GhostBed pillows will help provide a platform to get the best sleep experience possible.

Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

Twitter LinkedIn

Marc has spent the last two decades designing & manufacturing mattresses and other sleep products, drawing on a lifetime of experience working with the material sciences. With several patents to his name, he works closely with the GhostBed team to create products with the perfect balance of comfort & support. Learn More

Affirm Financing

Flex Payment

36-Month Flex Pay Option

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Shop Pay

One-Time Payment

Pay Once. Rest Easy.

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses