For many PWAs, a good night’s sleep isn’t on the daily schedule – no
matter how much they’d like it to be. Some have their sleep disrupted by
the effects of such medications as diuretics, antihistamines and
decongestants. Just having HIV can make your body work harder and need
more sleep, or can disrupt normal sleep rhythms, causing daytime
fatigue. All this is added to the demands of modern life that cause
sleep disorders in millions of the HIV negative.
Be aware that sleeping pills aren’t the only answer. In fact, most
experts advise against long-term use of sleep meds, since tolerance (you
need ever-higher doses) and dependence (you can’t fall asleep without
them) can develop. And side effects such as daytime drowsiness,
confusion and reduced coordination can occur. Short-term use of sleeping
pills can help counter sleep loss from stress or travel and
might help prevent sleeplessness from becoming chronic. But before you
reach for a pill, try one of these ideas:
Shut out light and sound. If these are part of the problem,
adjust whatever you can. If there’s too much light in your room, try an
old-fashioned sleep mask. They really help, and the soft satin ones are
perfectly comfortable. If you need sound-dampening, try soft,
foam-rubber earplugs. They’ll block pout almost anything, so make sure
you can still hear your fire alarm.
Don’t use your bedroom for work. Sleep researchers advise that
the room you sleep in be restricted to that. That way, just entering
the room will suggest sleep to you. Do everything you can to set up a
separate sleeping environment.
Keep a daily routine. researchers also counsel going to bed at
around the same time every night, so your body learns to expect top
sleep at that time. If falling asleep has been a problem, avoiding naps
or late sleeping can also help. By keeping to a more regular snooze
schedule, you’ll be more likely to feel truly drowsy at the appropriate
time. It’s also helpful to have a regular winding-down period of quiet
reading, peaceful music, meditation or whatever works best to relax you.
Try relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, biofeedback, visualization and many other relaxation techniques have proved effective.
Avoid sleep disrupters. Exercise in the late evening is a
no-no, shown to degrade sleep quality. But exercise earlier in the day
may actually help you sleep better. Avoid caffeine in the evening since
it remains in the body for several hours. Alcohol near bedtime causes
abnormal brain activity that can prevent deep, restful sleep.
Change your attitude. If you’ve come to expect trouble
sleeping, your anxiety itself may keep you up/. Any time sleep hasn’t
come within 20 to 30 minutes, get back up and resume your normal
late-night activities until you feel sleepy. The idea is to reprogram
yourself so you can once again associate the bed with sleepiness,
instead of stress.