Your positive status and any HIV medication you take may affect your sleeping pattern.
A good night’s sleep is essential for your physical and mental health and if you’re not getting enough it can make you feel pretty bad.
Our counsellors have more tips for how you can improve your bedtime habits ››
There is no magic number of hours for the amount of sleep we need as we are all different, but current NHS guidelines note that most adults sleep for an average of 7 to 9 hours per night.
You should listen to your body to find out how much sleep is good for you.
If you’re not getting enough sleep you will feel slow and tired all day, perhaps moody and you won’t be able to perform as well as you’re used to.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania believe that we build up a ‘sleep debt’ when we don’t get enough sleep over a period of time, and that this can lead to serious problems when carrying out normal day to day tasks.
Insomnia is classified as a difficulty in getting to sleep and/or staying asleep.
Alongside fatigue, which you’ll feel if you often don’t get enough sleep, insomnia is common in HIV positive people throughout the course of the virus.
If you have always found it difficult to sleep, HIV could exacerbate the problem - so talk about this with your doctor.
Depression and anxiety can also affect your ability to sleep, co-existing as your system becomes less in balance. Unless you seek help with this, these problems can become worse as they are both exacerbated by insomnia.
Sleeping problems could also be a side effect of your HIV medication, so it is worth talking to your doctor if you believe that this is the case.
If poor sleep is bothering you, there are a few simple things that you can do to try to help yourself:
Sleeping tablets used to be taken a lot but we now know that some of them can be addictive and can leave you tired and irritable the next day.
They may lose their effect after some time, and should only be used for a few nights at a time.
They are only available on prescription.
One of the more common side effects with many HIV drugs is problems with sleep.
Some drugs can cause dizziness and nausea and so you might decide to take them just before you go to bed. For many people this makes sense, but if the drugs begin to interfere with your sleeping pattern then it is worth exploring options to tackle this.
It is important to address these symptoms, as getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your long-term health as an HIV positive person.
The amount of sleep that we need is unique – each of us is different, so just try to get as much sleep as you had before you began taking HIV medication.
There are some simple steps you can take to help improve your sleep pattern:
Some HIV drugs are well known for having sleep-related side effects. If you take any of the following and notice sleep problems, talk to your doctor:
Sleep disturbances could also be a side effect of depression. If you're feeling a little low, now is a good time to discuss both problems with your healthcare team.
You can also discuss your problems with our Online Counsellor.
How to deal with insomnia and sleeplessness ››
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What happens if my bed is not comfortable. is there a fund to apply to to get a new bed that is comfortable?
I have had insomnia since the age of 12. It has been really bad over the last few years (I'm 57). I have been on Graltegravir and the insomnia is really horrid with bizarre dreams during restless sleep. I am taking it in the mornings now to see if that helps but it doesn't. I am so tired all the time, yawning and sluggish.
This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 13/10/2018
Content Author: Garry Brough
Current Owner: Counselling
Insomnia in HIV/AIDS, Sleep Review (2009)
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?, National Sleep Foundation (2009)
‘Sleep Debts’ Accrue When Nightly Sleep Totals Six Hours or Fewer, ScienceDaily (2003)
Pataki, G.E. (2006) Managing Side Effects of HIV Medications New York State Department of Health: New York. Plusve (2009) UK daily dosing of ADULT antiretroviral agents How’s That Publishing Ltd: Middlesex. Insomnia in HIV and Its Management: One Clinician’s Perspective, The Center for AIDS (Research Initiative/Treatment Action) & The Body (2000) Side Effects of HIV and AIDS Drugs WebMD HIV & AIDS Health Center (2009)
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
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