Dealing with Post-holiday Fatigue and Sleep Issues

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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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.


Andrea Rice avatar

Andrea Rice

Find sleeping a huge issue and wonder if sleeping in a chair might be easier. I used to enjoy sleeping on both sides but wonder because this illness, PAH pulmonary arterial hypertension makes me so skinny this is why I have pain and then have to move. I don't feel like I have much meat on my bones and feel this could be one reason why. I have found some comfort sleeping on my back and use a body pillow that helps between my knees. I have also laid on my stomach and find comfort there. My heart doctor has always asked me to rest and I thought it was because my heart is affected with the high blood pressure in the lungs, but I wonder if it's because she knows I won't be getting sound sleep daily.

I would like tips on other ways folks with PAH find ways of sleeping, so please email me if you choose. I feel isolated where I live because I know no one that has this illness. I feel anorexic because of being so skinny, it would help if I could talk to another with this illness.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Andrea, thanks for reading, I hate to hear that you are struggling with sleep. I know with PH and with your weight loss, this may be uncomfortable. For more tips and to learn how others live with PH, please join the PH forums. It is simple to sign-up here-


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