Pain and Sleeplessness

Last updated: November 2021

I’ll be honest, I’ve always had some trouble sleeping. As a kid it would take me several hours to fall asleep, but once I was asleep I’d be out like a light. This changed once symptoms of AS began presenting.

Pain in bed

Lower back pain and stiffness made laying down in bed for an extended period of time difficult. As you can imagine, that made going to sleep far more arduous, which was frustrating as I already struggled with falling asleep. Once I’d finally fall asleep, I’d wake up several times during the night due to pain. Each time it would take longer to fall back asleep.

Before AS, I knew that even if I had trouble falling asleep, I’d have deep restful sleep whenever I’d finally doze off. Now, however, every aspect of sleep suffered due to AS symptoms. Because of all the sleep troubles I do not get adequate rest which then worsens my symptoms, creating a messy and vicious cycle.

Insomnia during flare ups

Getting enough sleep is especially difficult when I am going through a flare up. There are several nights during a flare where I get little to no sleep. It is very frustrating because I spend hours painfully tossing and turning in bed and waking up every half hour or hour because of the pain.

When my symptoms are more manageable, I wake up less during the night. While this is a relief, it still does not allow me to get sufficient rest that is critical to my disease management.

I’ve tried using melatonin and natural supplements. I’ve also tried incorporating better sleep hygiene and exercise to help my sleep problems. However, they have not helped much. I wish this was an aspect of treatment that doctors helped with.

Does AxSpA or chronic illness cause sleep issues for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

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