Chronic Illness and Insomnia

There are many health experts talking about how crucial sleep is and how detrimental it can be if you don’t get what your body needs. But what about the people who have tried everything to get quality sleep but simply cannot?

Those people are generally called insomniacs and while there are many success stories, there are still those who suffer their entire lives.

Living with IBD and PTSD

I began dealing with sleep issues a few years following my diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I was diagnosed at the age of 13 and following some wretched hospital experiences, I developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While many people associate PTSD with war veterans or domestic violence victims, there are lots of reasons why someone might suffer from this condition. Medical trauma is just starting to be researched more closely which makes me hopeful.

I digress…

Insomnia as a byproduct of other health issues

I have spent so many nights in the hospital and the majority of them were spent never sleeping. In the beginning of my journey with a chronic illness, I trusted those around me so I didn’t feel this need to be on guard all of the time. But as time went on, I realized just how much I needed to be on top of things when I was in the hospital.

I found it increasingly difficult to let go and just relax so much of the time, regardless of where I was or what was going on. In addition, I have an ostomy which needs to be emptied in the middle of the night. I also know subconsciously I am probably worried about leaking.

My point in sharing this brief part of my health journey with you all is to let you know that you’re not alone if insomnia has become a byproduct of you suffering from your own chronic condition. Living with any health issues can be incredibly scary. There can be a lot of unknowns that cause anxiety.

Chronic illness and mental health

Many people feel like they are constantly in and out of life, which can obviously feel very unsettling. If you need to spend time in the hospital, that can clearly impact mental health.

It is common for those who suffer from a chronic condition to develop anxiety and/or depression. In my opinion, it is easier to understand why anxiety has a negative impact on sleep. I am not an expert but I will say that feeling depressed because of your health (or for any reason) can cause a person to develop insomnia.

Missing the benefits of sleep

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to suffer from a chronic illness and have issues with sleep. Let’s be real: it sucks!

Sleep allows us to heal. Sleep allows us to have a reprieve from day-to-day life. Sleep allows our body and minds to recharge so we are ready to perform at our best the next day. Sleep allows us to be patient with our loved ones. Sleep allows us to handle the anxieties and stresses of everyday life, let alone the extra hardships of layering on an illness.

I could go on and on.

You are not alone

Please know that you are not alone. We are a safe community of people who understand. As we all know, it helps to know we aren’t “crazy” for feeling certain ways so I would love it if you could leave a comment sharing your experiences or just saying you get it. You never know who may need to hear your words.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Which of the following have you tried to help with insomnia?