Lana Barhum is a legal assistant, patient advocate, freelance writer, blogger, and single parent. She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 2008 and uses her experiences to share expert advice on living successfully with chronic illness.
Many chronically ill people dread setting New Year’s resolutions, because we can’t predict what our illness battles will be, but we can still live a full life despite compromised health. Millions of people living with chronic diseases are caring for themselves and enhancing their relationships.
One of the biggest fears people with chronic illness face is the unknown future. How do you learn to cope successfully with your limitations and lessen your fears as we start a new year? You can start by setting resolutions that help you manage pain and illness successfully.
Here are three resolutions people with chronic illness should set for the new year.
1. Improve sleep
Pain and fatigue experienced by people with chronic illness has a huge impact on daily life, including sleep. Because of their diseases, chronically ill people often have trouble sleeping at night and experience fatigue during the day. Sleep issues can make a person’s quality of life worse.
In the new year, resolve to get better sleep. Start by working with your doctor to control pain and symptoms. If your pain and symptoms are managed and you are still experiencing sleep problems, make sure you are practicing good sleep habits. Good habits include things such as: sleeping in a dark room, keeping noise out of your bedroom, maintaining a comfortable bedroom temperature, having a sleep schedule, avoiding naps during the day, staying away from caffeine close to bedtime, and drinking liquids that induce sleep, such as warm milk or chamomile tea.
You could also try approaches to sleep such as relaxation training, biofeedback, and cognitive behavior therapy. As a last option, consider asking your doctor about a prescription sleep aid to help you fall asleep at night and stay asleep until morning. It is best, however, to try non-drug methods before turning to sleeping pills. Sleeping pills should only be used for short periods, as long-term use may cause tolerance and dependence.
Remember, you doctor is the best person help you to find the best sleep solution.