Do people living with HIV have trouble sleeping?
We all have trouble sleeping sometimes; we have a lot on our minds, personal or financial worries, or we spent last night binge-watching and completely disrupted our sleep-wake cycle.
People living with HIV may develop sleep-related issues for several reasons.
Why could someone living with HIV experience sleep disturbances?
People living with HIV can develop sleep disturbances because being diagnosed can often be a difficult time or as a consequence of treatment.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep. It is by far the most common sleep disorder. A study from 2012 showed that around 70% of people living with HIV experienced some form of sleep problems. The study examined sleep patterns of 290 people who were between 22 and 77 years old and discovered that 45% of them were sleeping for less than 6 hours a night. One third were struggling with falling asleep, while more than half had fragmented sleep. The good news is that sleep disorders can be treated successfully, but you should always seek advice from a medical professional.
Treating insomnia on time can prevent some more severe disorders from developing.
Why is it important to get enough sleep?
Sleep is essential for all of us. Sleep plays a vital role in your health and well-being. Getting enough, good-quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental and physical health and your quality of life.
So, what are the causes of sleep problems in people living with HIV?
Being diagnosed with HIV can be a very stressful time, with many ongoing concerns, anxiety, and stress. There is the worry of telling others and fear of the unknown.
You can find out more about HIV and about what Undetectable equals Untransmittable means here:
Sometimes HIV itself can disrupt the sleep cycle. People who have just started antiretroviral treatment could experience insomnia as a side effect of the treatment. However, once the body gets used to it, your sleep schedule should fall back into place.
How do you improve sleep for people living with HIV?
Although drugs are highly effective in treating insomnia, they are not the best solution for people living with HIV, because they can interfere with their antiretroviral therapy. To avoid any complications, the best way to improve sleep is to start with a non-drug approach.
What is a healthy sleep routine?
The first step is to establish a healthy sleep routine. Try limiting your screen time around bedtime, using your bed only for sleeping and going to bed at around the same time every night. When arranging your sleep routine, you should aim for at least seven hours of proper sleep. You should also avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary from the stresses of the day. Make your bedroom calm and inviting by ensuring it’s clean and tidy, with low lighting and soothing décor.
What about exercise?
If timed correctly, exercise can be helpful in establishing a sleep schedule. You should exercise at least 4 to 6 hours prior to your preferred bedtime. If you are not into working out, you could try some other sleep-inducing techniques, like having a hot bath, approximately two hours before bedtime, so that your body temperature can drop, ready for sleep.
How about sleep therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can improve your sleep by changing your behavior before bedtime as well as changing the ways of thinking that keep you from falling asleep.
What do I do if I still can’t sleep?
If you are still having trouble sleeping, you should speak to a medical professional for advice. They may be able to suggest medications that could help. A medical professional will also check that any medications are suitable for use with your antiretroviral treatment. You should never take any medications without consulting a medical professional.