Sleep, Insomnia, and Chronic Conditions

Sighing with frustration, I roll over on my back and stretch. I have been laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, for a long time at this point. Looking around me, I see every other living creature in my house is fast asleep. My movement has not even bothered the sleeping dogs one little bit.

As annoyed as I am, I know it is time for me to get up for a little bit and go to the living room. I grabbed one of my favorite blankets and a bottle of water. This time, the dogs have woken up and are following me around. I curl up in my recliner with the blanket and my dogs. I can only hope that I will be able to relax again and find sleep.

Utter exhaustion

Earlier in the evening, I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. I could feel myself falling asleep while I was in my recliner. Therefore, I took my bedtime medications and climbed into bed. I had no problem snuggling into bed and finding a comfortable spot.

The problem arose when I could not fall asleep. No matter how long I lay snuggled into bed, sleep would not come. Sometimes it seems the higher my level of exhaustion is prior to bed, the harder it is for me to fall asleep.

Pain, insomnia - oh my!

When I was younger, I did not struggle with sleep. My insomnia started to become an issue when I developed medical issues that gave me chronic pain.

Endometriosis

The first medical condition that brought me face-to-face with chronic pain was endometriosis. On normal days, I could easily fall asleep on my own. On the other hand, when I had a bad pain day, sleep was not something that I could find. We struggled to get my endometriosis-related pain under control.

It was bad enough that my gynecologist prescribed me Ambien for the days when the pain was out of control. He wanted to be sure that I was able to at least sleep through my unmanageable pain. His plan worked for several years.

Migraines

When my migraines first started, I could take a migraine abortive medication and lay down. The medication would help me sleep and when I woke up, the migraine would be gone. Unfortunately, this did not remain the case. My migraines eventually became chronic and the way they affected me changed as well.

With the chronic migraines, I was no longer able to sleep away the pain. The migraine medication and the sleeping aids began to lose effectiveness when pain-induced insomnia hit. I was left going several nights at a time with little to no sleep.

Fibromyalgia

A few years after chronic migraine, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The chronic widespread pain brought my chronic conditions to a whole other level. There has not been the slightest bit of control in my life since then. Nothing that I have tried for the pain or insomnia has been helpful. I am in a constant state of fatigue. Yet when I try to sleep at night, my insomnia likes to get the last laugh.

HIV

When I was first diagnosed, I did not think that my HIV could be increasing my insomnia. But I learned otherwise after doing some research. According to an article on aidsmap, research shows that up to 70 percent of people living with HIV have sleep problems compared to 30 percent in the general population.1

These numbers are shocking, but it made me realize that I am not alone in my struggles with insomnia.

Barriers to better sleep

Quality sleep is necessary for good mental and physical health. Unfortunately, some medical conditions, such as the ones that I have mentioned, can interfere with our ability to get the quality sleep we need. In my case, I utilize medication and therapy in an attempt to manage my insomnia.

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