Healthy Living with Chronic Disease and Pain Tips for Sound Sleep

How to Sleep like a Baby

One of the foundations of good health is the ability to sleep well. This means that you fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, without anxiety or worry, and wake up refreshed after sleeping for the amount of time your body needs.

Unfortunately, sleep is something we take for granted until good sleep disappears. Then, lack of sleep can turn into a desperate quest to get back to what you had. Chronic pain and disease can make sleep elusive, and make symptoms much worse. It is vitally important to know how to enhance your sleep before lack of sleep begins to wreak havoc on your life.

Here is a short list of tips to enhance quality sleep:

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Use cues to begin to condition your body to associate bedtime with relaxation instead of anxiety. For example, lower lights, take a warm bath or shower (not hot), read something that doesn’t create strong emotional reactions, or use aromatherapy (lavender is a great essential oil for relaxation)
  • Speaking of lighting, ALWAYS dim lights a good hour before retiring. Bright lights suppress your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which is regulated by the sun.
  • Use food. Eat a lighter meal in the evening, higher in carbohydrates, which will enhance sleepiness. Experiment with foods that have been shown to improve sleep, ie. tart cherry juice which contains the sleep hormone, turkey and fish which contain tryptophan, and chamomile tea, a relaxing herb.
  • Try not to do anything in the evening that creates anxiety/worry. This means bill paying, working, – you know what the triggers are for you.
  • Look into stress reducing activities like restorative yoga, meditation, guided visualization, and deep breathing. All of these activities help your body to learn how to relax. Insomnia is basically a disorder of arousal, meaning your body learns to stay alert, and has a hard time winding down.
  • Remember that there are always options, and that your body will, eventually, get to sleep. Hang in there, be patient, keep trying (but not too hard!)

For more tips and ideas check out these worksheets from my book, A Resilient Life, Learning to thrive, not just survive, with rheumatoid arthritis.

You can find the book here:

2 thoughts on “Healthy Living with Chronic Disease and Pain Tips for Sound Sleep

  • February 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    These are great tips. Unfortunately, I do these along with sleep aides and because of the pain from severe rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitus I am awake every two hours. I do take a nap every day for about 2 hours. It helpsc tremendously.

    • February 12, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for your comment Tony. I can empathize with you- I’ve taken sleep aides for years at a time too- I’ve probably tried 95% of the natural sleep aides and many prescription sleep aids as well! Napping is under-rated for sure, and can really make a huge difference in quality of life for people like us with autoimmune diseases. Take good care and thanks again for reaching out!


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