5 Tips for Improving Sleep When You Have Hepatitis C
We have all had restless nights, longing for a solid slumber. However, when sleeplessness becomes chronic, a long list of serious health problems can emerge. Unfortunately, those with Hepatitis C are especially vulnerable to sleep problems, and taking a pharmaceutical sleep aid is not the best choice for those with liver disease. Luckily, there are a number of pharmaceutical-free strategies that will help those with Hepatitis C sleep better.
Unless living with Hepatitis C for many years, symptoms rarely emerge. However, problems sleeping – and the fatigue, depression and cognitive impairment that is likely to follow – are the most common struggles reported by those with Hepatitis C. As summed up in a 2014 issue of the Journal of Hepatology, Israeli researchers state that their report provides evidence that a history of past or present chronic Hepatitis C infection (with or without cirrhosis or hepatic encephalopathy) is associated with an altered sleep pattern, which has a negative impact on quality of life and well being.
Getting good sleep matters to all of us. Feeling tired, foggy and cranky is typical after a poor night’s sleep. However, sleeping well is especially valuable when defending against the Hepatitis C virus. The body’s cells do most of their reparations while we sleep, a critical process for healthy cell regeneration. This is known as restorative sleep. Those with Hepatitis C sustain more than their fair share of liver cell inflammation and damage during the day. Come nighttime, the liver’s ability to repair and regenerate its cells depends on the person’s ability to achieve and maintain a deep sleep state.
In addition to diminished capacity for cellular repair, sleeplessness can cause those with Hepatitis C to experience an inflammation spike. An increase in inflammatory cytokines is typically seen with a lack of sleep. These chemicals can aggravate liver cell inflammation and cause liver cell damage in those with Hepatitis C.
5 Tips for Better Sleep
Although there is no magic cure for insomnia, these five approaches have helped many achieve restorative sleep:
- Avoid Stimulants – Environmental and ingested stimulants interfere with slumber. One or two hours before going to bed, experts suggest avoiding watching television, exercising and being on a computer or electronic device. They also advise people to avoid caffeine, large meals and alcohol several hours before bed.
- Keep it Dark – Sleeping in a completely dark room helps convince your body to sleep. Studies have shown that light in the bedroom causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which prevents relaxation – thus delaying sleep.
- Block Blue Light – Block out blue light by turning off all electronics before going to bed – or at least remove them from where you sleep. The blue light that is emitted from devices such as iPads, phones, computers, TVs, modems, etc. is a potent suppressor of melatonin – the hormone that regulates our sleep cycle.
- Practice Relaxation – Entering into a relaxed state helps sleep quality. There are many types of relaxation practices including meditation, prayer and guided imagery. According to Joshua Jacobi, MD, an interventional cardiologist in Pasadena, CA, one technique is to lie in bed and tell your body to relax from head to toe. Try focusing on each part of your body, beginning with your head, jaw and neck and ending at your ankles, heels and toes while imagining the release of tension in each location.
- Herbal Tea – Some herbal teas aid relaxation. Chamomile and valerian root teas are two of the more widely used herbs for sleep promotion. Those with Hepatitis C are advised to choose organic herbal teas so there is no additional detoxification load on the liver.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be one of the most important steps for reclaiming your health. Those with Hepatitis C are more likely to have sleep problems than those with a healthy liver. In addition, insomnia can aggravate Hepatitis C infection. Thus, incorporating these five sleep strategies into a Hepatitis C wellness program can help you achieve highly coveted, restorative sleep.
*Editor’s Note – Always consult with your healthcare provider prior to adding any new medications, supplements or herbs to your daily routine.
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