How Does Insomnia Affect Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation?
Last updated: July 2023
For 4 1/2 years, an undiagnosed illness has affected my mobility and limited my physical capabilities in a number of ways. Over that time, I have had times when my abilities were better, and times when it was worse.
All of this led to a fair amount of muscle atrophy. I had an extended period of quite limited mobility over the past 2 years. I am just now regaining some mobility.
Since my mobility is improving, I need to resume physical therapy to rehabilitate, regain muscle, and further improve my mobility. Insomnia affects my ability to do that.
Lack of sleep means less energy for physical therapy
An increase in physical activity brings on an increase in pain and discomfort. It also requires a lot more energy, leaving me depleted long before the day ends. This need for more energy requires a decent amount of sleep.
My ability to get enough sleep to function well has a direct impact on my rehabilitation efforts. Much of my physical therapy is focused on improving walking, and it is difficult when I need to use energy I just don't have.
The less sleep I get at night, the less physical therapy I can perform during the day.
Too tired to sleep means too tired for physical therapy
I also struggle with being able to sleep once I pass a certain point of exhaustion. Have you ever been too tired to sleep? I get that way a lot lately.
Fighting through physical therapy is exhausting. It zaps my energy and leaves me too tired to do much of anything, including sleeping.
Being too tired to sleep and too tired from not sleeping makes physical therapy seem impossible some days. It's a real struggle battling fatigue caused by insomnia, and fatigue caused by trying to use and rebuild atrophied muscles.
Anxiety and depression caused by fatigue
Dealing with so much fatigue and struggling to sleep has caused me anxiety, and that anxiety can trigger my depression. As my stress levels increase, my ability to get enough sleep decreases.
Physical therapy causes fatigue and creates a need for more sleep. Pain and fatigue make it harder to sleep. Worrying about getting enough sleep in order to complete physical therapy creates anxiety - anxiety keeps me awake.
This cycle makes it difficult, and I am expending more and more energy trying to rebuild muscle. It feels like I am fighting a losing battle.
Can I manage physical therapy while battling insomnia?
I have wondered if it is truly possible to regain all the muscle I have lost. This would require quite a bit of physical therapy over an extended period of time.
My mystery illness would need to stay away long enough to do that, and I would need to battle through fatigue and hope to have the energy to work hard each day.
Insomnia is making it harder for me to get through physical therapy. It slows me down some days, making it impossible to do all the things I need to do.
Insomnia makes it hard to complete physical therapy
In my experience, trying to complete physical therapy with insomnia is quite a challenge. I'm not going to say it is impossible, but it is indeed a struggle.
I have to fight through exhaustion and hope for enough energy to get through the exercises I need to do. This would be so much easier if I could manage to get enough sleep each night.
Have you struggled to get through physical therapy due to fatigue? Has insomnia affected your ability to complete physical therapy? How did you cope? I would love to hear your tips and tricks for battling fatigue.
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?