If you are like me, trying to balance life with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and coexisting illnesses is a full-time job. Add in the busy holiday season, and despite careful planning, I am left with a general feeling of malaise and lethargy.
Though I don’t host any holiday celebrations at my house and I purchase pre-made desserts, I continue to struggle. I cherish the memory of baking sugar cookies and decorating them with my Moma (what we call my mom) and my daughter. I have unopened packets containing other baking ingredients in my cupboards, and I am OK with that. This year was the first that I didn’t feel guilty for not doing more baking and cooking during the holidays.
What has prompted this change? I think that maybe after living for almost 15 years with PH, I am finally making some progress toward acceptance. I believe that this new development is thanks to my productive therapy sessions and my awareness that physical and mental health go hand in hand.
When my body can’t rest, it’s due to various factors related to chronic illness, diet, stress, and mental and physical strains. The lethargy and malaise that I’m feeling now is likely due to a combination of these. The holidays are draining, and despite taking rests and “shortcuts,” my body continues to fight back.
When I notice that my body is in fighter mode, I try to take more mental breaks, including a hiatus from social media. I set aside time for myself, whether it’s a drive near the water or my morning devotional. I don’t feel bad for staying in my pajamas. However, a lack of rest is not the issue. I have found myself sleeping in more, and it’s still not enough. When I mention that I am “tired” or need to rest, most people think that a nap will suffice. If only it were that simple.
Those like me with PH and other chronic illnesses often deal with sleep disturbances. My sleep problems are often due to pain, including leg aches or all-over pain. I toss and turn in my bed to find a comfortable position. I don’t usually complain, and I’ve been told that I have a high pain tolerance, but I’m unsure if I should take that as a compliment.
Whatever the reason, those living with PH may be dealing with some of the same sleep issues that add to the challenges of daily life. Our bodies require more sleep than the average person’s does. If you can’t move past the post-holiday fatigue and experience sleep disturbances, please mention this to your medical team. Some PH patients have sleep apnea.
I’ve found these sleeping tips to be helpful. They might be useful if you are having sleep issues related to chronic pain. I try to go to bed around the same time every night. I often lie awake as I toss and turn. If this continues for several hours, I get up and stretch or take pain-relieving medications as needed to see if that helps. Sometimes, I fall asleep better on the couch. When this happens, I stay there and sleep if I can. Whatever it takes.
Do you suffer from sleep disturbances? If so, what tips help you?
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.