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      I remember when I was first diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in April 2016, and my doctor told me that eventually getting a restful nights sleep would become difficult. As someone who loves her sleep, this was devastating to me and it was one of the side effects of this disease that I was dreading the most. To my surprise (other than the occasional night here and there), I continued to sleep well for many months into my disease. It has only been recently that my sleep seems to be consistently poor and I wake the next morning feeling even more exhausted than before.

      One night while lying wide-awake in bed, I finally gave up and started browsing through my phone. I know it is important to avoid looking at screens when you are trying to get back to sleep as the light stimulates both your eyes and your mind and alerts them to wake up, however, I was tired of laying in the dark. I posted to my social media account that I was having trouble sleeping and I asked others if they had some good strategies to help not only reduce my insomnia, but increase the quality of my sleep as well. They had some great tips, which I wanted to share here:


      • Melatonin: a natural “medication” to help improve the quality of sleep. In particular, my friend who is a nurse suggested an extended release sublingual melatonin.
      • Taking other medications including: magnesium, zinc, tylonal PM or gravol.
      • A weighted blanket! This is something I think I am going to try next.
      • Quiet meditation music/app or breathing techniques. As an IPF patient, I’d need to ensure I can do the breathing techniques that are suggested. One of the apps a friend suggested is called: Relax Melodies.
      • A white noise machine to ease your mind into a consistent sound, eliminating the constant thinking.
      • Essential oils that are focused on rest and relaxation to help ease my body into restful sleep.
      • Reading to make the eyes tired, and then immediately turning off the light and trying to sleep (not getting up after reading to brush your teeth etc., but instead laying right down to sleep)
      • Turning off all electronics approximately 1 hour before bed to let your mind’s stimulation slow down.

      Does anyone else have anything they could add to this list?

      The suggestions I think I will start implementing as of this evening are the relaxation music/app, as this is something I can put on my phone or iPad and have it playing lightly beside my bed. I also have essential oils for many uses in my home, and likely have a relaxation-oil such as Lavender or Peppermint. I will try setting my diffuser on within the hour of going to bed as well to see if this helps mixed in with the relaxation music. Most of these are non-medicinal attempts to help improve sleep, as other than the melatonin, I would prefer to try and increase my ability to sleep without extra medications. That said, I know it is important to get a restful sleep and if my ability to fall asleep doesn’t improve soon then I will resort to trying some of the medications listed above.

      I wrote a column about this back in the fall, when I was having periodic trouble sleeping (as opposed to consistent troubles), which can be found here:

      Please feel free to share your tips and tricks to help with sleep if it has become a problem for you since your PF/IPF diagnosis: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/2017/10/26/ipf-and-sleep-disturbances-whats-the-problem/

      Warm regards,

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