[ Guest Post ] 3 Sleep Tips For Chronic Illness Sufferers

[  Guest Post  ]  Thanks to the wonderful Sally at Hope Health Healing (linked removed as no longer active) for sharing this with us.


One super frustrating component to chronic illness is the annoying combo of fatigue and difficulty sleeping.  You’d think because you’re so pooped during the day that climbing into bed and catching zzzzz’s would be a breeze. Yeah.  Not so much. 

Raise your hand if you understand. 

It’s a vicious cycle of being too tired to function and too tired to sleep.  So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

I don’t like sleeping pills because they make me feel groggy the next day, and I don’t feel like I’m getting quality sleep.  And they are not a long term solution anyway. I’m looking for something that will help my body actually sleep better, not a band aid to throw on top.

Why do we have so much trouble with good sleep when it’s at the top of our to-do list?

Medications – while I advocate for living as naturally as possible, sometimes we need meds.  And they can mess with your system & cause sleep problems.

Depression/Anxiety – having a chronic illness can affect you more than just physically. Having a life-altering illness is incredibly difficult to deal with. 

The Illness Itself – Our bodies are not listening to anything, especially our instructions.  Neurological issues, hormone imbalances, pain and stiffness can all make sleeping well difficult or impossible.

So what to do???sleeptips1

We’ve all heard the typical solutions and probably laugh at them.  Keep a sleep schedule.  No screen time before bed. No caffeine or sugar in the evening.  Yes, check.  Get it.  We need more.

#1 Try a power nap during the day.

Not a 2 hour, back to bed kind of nap, but a 15-20 minute early afternoon rest. (Don’t climb in bed.  You’ll sleep too long.  Try the couch or a comfy recliner)

A short sleep after lunch can reduce stress, help cardiovascular functions, and improve alertness and memory, according to a report from the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN).  An after lunch nap is part of the natural cycle of the body and missing it could be worse for one’s health than skipping a meal, the findings showed.

A power nap helps me be more productive in the afternoon, which reduces stress and improves my mood.  Otherwise I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. A more active, productive day makes settling in to sleep at night a little easier.

#2 Are you hydrated? 

Many of us are chronically dehydrated.  It can have a number of different adverse effects – from increased joint pain, lack of focus & energy, weight gain, and more.  But did you know that it also messes with sleep cycles? Water is critical to the healthy function of the cells in our body, and especially important for the cells in our brain.

I know that none of us want to be up and down peeing all night, so make sure you are hydrating well during the day.  You can find lots of info online about how much to drink.  Half your body weight in ounces is a popular one, but it does vary from person to person based on a lot of different factors. Here’s one: https://www.camelbak.com/en/hydrated/hydration-calculator

#3 I have all these little brown bottles of essential oils. 

Perhaps there are some answers there too??

Aside from the wsleep-diffuserell-known oils for sleep, like lavender, there are many others that can help.  Aromatically (in the diffuser), topically (on the bottom of your feet) or even in a warm relaxing bedtime bath (with Epsom salts), essential oils can help your body prepared for good sleep. 

Here are a few suggestions:

Vetiver: Vetiver essential oil is distilled from the roots of the plant giving it a rich and earthy smell.  I love that it helps my brain “shut-off” for the night.  If you lay in bed thinking about everything you need to do/should have done/etc, then you’ll want to give this one a try.  It blends well with lavender or roman chamomile.

Cedarwood: The earthy, woody smell of cedarwood is a distinctive aroma.  It’s another good choice to calm the brain down after a busy day.

Roman Chamomile: This one is known for is calming, soothing, and relaxing properties. I love its light, sweet scent. This is a very gentle (yet effective oil) so it’s perfect for any age.  It works well in the diffuser or topically.

There are a lot of other choices for oils to help you rest, but you get the picture.  We all have unique body chemistries, so everyone ends up with their favorite sleep combo.  I also use oils daily to help with overall health, and better sleep is one benefit of that.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of self-care when you have chronic issues.  And sleep is at the top of the self-care list.  It definitely can make or break your day.  Check my blog for more tips on how I’m dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  It certainly is a journey.  And if you want to chat oils, I’m your girl. I’m slightly obsessed. 

I’d love to hear your tips for good sleep.  Share in the comments!

About the hhh-profile-pic3.30author : Sally Farrington’s world was turned upside down in 2010 when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. A busy homeschooling, volleyball coaching mom with 3 daughters, 2 son-in-laws, and 2 grands and equally busy hubby, it did not fit into her life plan very well (the understatement of the year). Since then she has been driven to learn about natural ways to be healthy, discovering essential oils along the way. Sally founded Hope Health Healing in 2015 to share what she’s learned with other chronic illness sufferers. You can follow along with her crazy life at www.Hope-Health-Healing.net or contact her at sally@hope-health-healing.net



  1. April 7, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips. Sleep really is such a huge issue for people living with pain and/or anxiety.

  2. April 9, 2017 / 7:27 am

    Some very helpful tips here. I think daily exercise helps (even moderate), and I try NEVER to look at the clock if I’m having a restless night, the panic otherwise sets in as you start to tell yourself you’re running out of time to get to sleep and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    • InvisiblyMe
      April 9, 2017 / 8:06 am

      That’s very true – avoid looking at the time if at all possible!

  3. lexydragonfly
    April 10, 2017 / 11:02 am

    I practice good sleep hygiene. I turn the TV off at least an hour before bed. My phone and computer have nighttime settings to remove blue light, which drains melatonin from us. I take the maximum amount of melatonin supplements, 20 mg (approved by nutritionist). I eliminate noises other than white noise because I have tinnitus. I go to bed at the same time every night. And I have a snack before bed. I stop drinking caffeine drinks before 9 am. I recently learned that even though we stop at 2 or 3pm, which is what is recommended and what I used to do, caffeine builds up in our system. Melatonin and exhaustion help me fall asleep. But as the body is more rested, a few hours into sleep, the caffeine then wakes us up. I wake up between 3 and 4 am every morning. However, when I stopped coffee at 9 am, I find I am sleeping all the way through the night.

    I used to average 4 ¼ hrs a night, now I average 5 ½ to 6, closer to 6. It’s still considered chronic insomnia no matter what people say. Even 7 hrs is not enough. However, I’ll take 6 over 4 any day!

  4. April 15, 2017 / 11:50 am

    Chronic fatigue was my first symptom. My heath seemed to do down from there! I have had multiple sleep studies which show mild apnea but even with the CPAP (I don’t like using it) I was still having problems with sleep arousals (over 80 a night) and not getting into REM sleep. I just had another sleep study where I stayed the night and then all the next day (checking for narcolepsy). I was just diagnosed from the sleep study the other day with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. Waiting now on the results of narcolepsy. This has been going on with me since 2003!!

    • InvisiblyMe
      April 15, 2017 / 4:07 pm

      Oh heck, you’ve had a long run with these symptoms too. I’ve never had a sleep study test but I’m so glad you’ve had yours repeated recently. How long have you got to wait for your narcolepsy results? I hope you have a good team behind you that can suggest ways forward with the PLMD as well and hopefully provide you with some relief and better sleep as that may, perhaps, help a little with the sleep-tired aspect of chronic fatigue. xx

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