Immune System

How Illness Impacts Your Sleep

    We all know how crucial a good night's sleep is for overall well-being, and when illness strikes, it can often disrupt your sleep patterns. Being sick can significantly affect your quality and quantity of sleep, whether it's COVID, the common cold, or the flu.

We all know how crucial a good night's sleep is for overall well-being, and when illness strikes, it can often disrupt your sleep patterns. Whether it's COVID, the common cold, or the flu, being sick can significantly affect your quality and quantity of sleep. Here are some of the various ways in which illness can impact your sleep:

Disruption of Sleep Architecture

Illnesses can disrupt the natural progression of sleep cycles. The body typically goes through different stages of sleep, including REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM stages. While sick, the body may struggle to maintain these cycles, leading to fragmented and restless sleep. Respiratory issues, fever, and discomfort can contribute to this disruption.

Pain & Discomfort

Aches, pains, and general discomfort associated with illness can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. This discomfort can lead to increased wakefulness during the night and difficulty falling asleep in the first place.

Difficulty Breathing

Common colds and respiratory infections often cause congestion, especially during sleep. Nasal congestion can lead to snoring and sleep apnea, further compromising your quality of sleep. In severe cases, respiratory issues may warrant medical attention.

Fever & Night Sweats

Illnesses accompanied by fever can cause night sweats, leading to interrupted sleep. The body's efforts to regulate temperature can result in waking up in damp sheets, impacting sleep hygiene.

If you’re dealing with difficulty sleeping during an illness, all hope (and sleep) is not lost! There are a few generalized remedies you can try, but always be sure to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Hydration & Nutrition:

Staying hydrated is crucial when sick, and can help alleviate symptoms that affect sleep. Warm liquids like chamomile tea or broth can soothe a sore throat and provide comfort. Avoiding heavy meals close to bedtime can prevent indigestion.

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Keep it cool, use comfortable bedding, and consider using a humidifier to alleviate congestion. Dim the lights before bedtime to signal your body that it's time to sleep.

Elevate Your Head

If congestion is an issue, elevating your head with an extra pillow can help reduce nasal congestion and make breathing easier.

Seek Medical Advice

If symptoms persist or worsen, especially if they involve severe respiratory issues, persistent fever, or other concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional promptly.

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references

  1. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How to Sleep Well When You Have a Cold. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/cold-sleep

  2. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

  3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (n.d.). Healthy Sleep Tips. https://aasm.org/resources/healthy-sleep-tips/

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