3 Strategies to Get a Good Night's Sleep
Last updated: March 2022
Lupus patients are often fatigued and need more rest than the general population – which is why it’s so frustrating that many people with lupus experience insomnia as a symptom. I first began to struggle with insomnia during my second year with lupus. Even though I was exhausted, I would stare at the ceiling for hours before finally falling into a light, fitful sleep. I’d often wake up in the morning even more exhausted than I was before I went to bed.
Insomnia is still a symptom I still struggle with from time to time, like many other lupus patients whose central nervous system is affected by their disease. For the most part, following some simple lifestyle changes as well as taking medication have kept my insomnia under control. Here are some of the strategies I use to get a good night’s sleep:
I try to go to bed at the same time each night
Even if my mind wants to stay up and read or watch TV, my body craves routine and likes to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Going to bed on time is often a struggle for me. After a busy day, I always want time to unwind and relax. It can be frustrating to finish work late, eat dinner, and then go directly to bed. I’m also a goal-oriented person, so I frequently try to fit in one more task just before bed so I can cross an item off my to-do list. However, I know that if I resist the temptation to stay up late and instead go to bed on time, I’ll have more energy and therefore more time for tomorrow.
I read a book instead of looking at my phone
While cell phones and computers have been around for a relatively short time, human brains and bodies have responded to light and darkness for thousands of years. Circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock; it tells us when to wake up, eat, and go to sleep. Humans naturally become sleepy when it gets dark out, and we naturally wake up when it’s light. Unfortunately, TVs, computers, and cell phones emit a type of light called blue light which can disrupt our sleep and wake cycles. To avoid the type of light that might make it hard to fall asleep, I read a book instead of looking at my phone each night.
I always keep a book on my nightstand
...And in my car, purse, and kitchen. What can I say? I love to read! In the half an hour between taking my nightly medication and falling asleep, I lie in bed with the overhead light off and read by soft lamplight. Often, knowing I have a good book waiting for me on my nightstand motivates me to get ready for bed earlier – although I’ll admit this sometimes backfires when it’s the type of mystery that makes me want to keep reading until 2 am.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?