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Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep. It’s something we all need. Eight hours of restful sleep per night. But what happens if we can’t get at least 8 hours? For some people without chronic illness, they can run on 6 hours, maybe 5. For me personally, if I get less than 8, I can barely function the next day.

How important is sleep?

Sleep is an essential part of our routines. It helps keep our bodies functioning. Sleep affects almost all of our bodily systems like the brain, lungs, heart, metabolism, and mood, just to name a few.

Research has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to increased risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep is a very important part of our lives.

How much sleep do you get?

The average hours of sleep needed for most adults is between 7-9 hours per night, but we typically can get by with 6-11 hours per night. Sometimes I find myself needing around 11 hours per night if I’m particularly fatigued.

When I say that 7-9 hours is average, that means deep, uninterrupted sleep. Now if you’re like me, and have AS or any chronic illness, I’m sure you know that this is almost impossible.

What interrupts sleep?

For me, personally, I find it incredibly difficult to fall asleep at night. It takes me a few hours at least. I’ve almost always had this issue, but it’s become worse since I’ve been sick.

When I’m flaring, I find that a few times a night I will wake up in pain. Once waking up from the pain, it’s tough to fall back asleep. All I can focus on in the moment is how bad the pain is, it doesn’t matter how tired I actually am.

I tend to find that I will wake up in the early morning, between 6-8 am (yes, 8 is early for me), stay up for a few hours distracting myself from the pain with YouTube, and eventually fall back to sleep til’ 11 or 12.

Now that’s a good night if I can wake up and eventually fall back asleep. Some nights I’m in such excruciating pain that I can only manage to get 2-3 hours of sleep. Those are the nights that really mess me up the next day.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

I used to be able to run on as little as 6 hours of sleep. Oh, how I miss those days. Nowadays, if I get 6 hours of sleep, I feel awful the next day. I tend to get a headache around late afternoon, and it all goes downhill from there.

I’ll find myself getting cold-like symptoms when I don’t get enough sleep. I feel a sore throat coming on, my head hurts, and I just feel generally lousy. It feels as though I’m getting a head cold, but if I get a good night’s sleep the next night, I’m totally fine the day after.

This never happened when I first got sick, but now it’s a given. I know for sure that I feel sick because I didn’t get enough sleep. A lot of the time I can just stay home and rest all day. But if I don’t get enough sleep before a day where I’m going out, that’s when it affects me the most. I wish I could just sleep like I used to. Sometimes I have to take a sleeping pill just to ensure that I will get my hours.

What Helps You Sleep?

What are some things that you do (or take), that help you sleep better? I’d love to start a discussion on this because sleep is one of the most important things we do!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • peyton21
    3 weeks ago

    I would love to get an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep. It’s been years since that’s happened. I can’t seem to stay asleep. I wake up so many times a night. Sometimes it’s bc of pain and other times I jus wake up for no reason. I do good to get four hours of sleep a night.

  • Jed Finley moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I feel you Peyton.

    I used to have the hardest time sleeping and staying asleep. I wish I could tell you what changed that has allowed me to pass out and stay out recently. Maybe its just one of those things and it too shall pass. Do you use any sleep aides? Anything in your environment causing you to wake up?

  • Lisa Marie Basile moderator
    3 weeks ago

    A few years ago, before I was ‘officially diagnosed’ with AS (even though we knew I had it, plus my dad has it, and I’d had all the symptoms + HLB27 positive testing) I was sleeping…a lot. My partner would sort of poke fun at me, but I would say, “I’m serious. I need more sleep.” It was one of the core reasons I left a well-paying FT job that I commuted to.

    People need to understand that sleeping isn’t always lazy. It’s necessary. So I appreciate your bringing this up. Makes me feel less alone.

    I conjure sleep with a) ASMR videos — I love whispering and gentle noises, and b) lights out, soft lighting with salt lamps.

  • Steff Di Pardo moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Hey Lisa, I’m so sorry you and your dad both suffer from AS. I imagine it would connect you two strongly though.

    Sleeping is definitely not always lazy! We need so much more extra sleep than someone without AS. Our bodies go through so much within just one day, and it takes multiple days to recover from that.

    I’m sorry you had to leave your job. I did too, and I think a main reason of why I can’t get another is because of the fatigue and sleeping issues.

    I wish you all the best Lisa!

  • Auldyn Matthews-McGee moderator
    3 weeks ago

    A few things have helped me and Keegan:
    – Finding the right bed set up. It’s taken years but FINALLY we can get a good nights sleep. A firm bed is way better than a soft one. We also went with a foam topper on top of a traditional mattress. It works wonders.
    – A humidifier. We have radiator heat so our house is often super dry. Keegan is prone to allergies and congestion so having a humidifer all night makes a massive difference.
    – Muscle relaxers can help after long days. His rheumatologist recommended them and it’s been really nice after a hot bath. I think just feeling his muscles relax also helps his mind relax.

  • Steff Di Pardo moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Hey Auldyn, a foam topper is actually a great idea! Along with the muscle relaxers, I’ll have to ask my doctor about that. Thank you!

  • Jed Finley moderator
    2 weeks ago

    No joke, my bed is probably 4 feet off the ground! I have a thick pillow top mattress, memory foam egg carton, and another pillow top mattress cover over that. I’m the princess and the pea! But what it really does is helps me get out of bed in the morning, I just slide out. Unfortunately it also means my 5’3″ wife needs to use a stool to get in 😂

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Oh if only. Sleeping is one of the most difficult tasks I have. It seems like a chore each night. Maybe someday this will get worked out. But medication, revised sleep hygiene, even doing new routines has not worked.

  • Steff Di Pardo moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    It’s so difficult. You’re exactly right it feels like a chore! I wish something would help.

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