Sleep management and liver disease

Posted on: 16th September 2021

Sleep plays a huge part in our overall wellbeing. Adults are recommended to sleep an average of 7-9 hours per night. Sleep plays a vital role in managing our mood, it boosts our immune system and plays a part in improving our memory.

If we do not get sufficient quality of sleep, it can have effects on our quality of life, mental wellbeing and even affect our relationships. Having a liver condition can affect your sleeping patterns. But luckily, there are some things we can do to help manage our sleeping patterns. Here are our top tips.

Create a day time routine: Making some changes to your daytime routine can promote a better night’s sleep. These include:

  • Getting up at the same time every day. Try to get your body into a set routine for waking up.
  • Try to plan your meals for the same time each day.
  • Try your best not to nap too late in the day.
  • Exercise! Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. But don't exercise too late in the day because this may make it harder to fall asleep.

Create a bedtime routine: Creating a positive and calming bedtime routine can help get your body feeling relaxed which promotes a better night’s sleep. These include:

  • Try to stop drinking any caffeinated drinks in the early evening allowing enough time for it to leave your system before bedtime.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking as these can negatively impact your sleep.
  • Avoid using back-lit devices such as phones, iPads, TVs or computers for a while before going to sleep.
  • Go old school and read a book (no kindles).
  • Include some relaxing activities into your bedtime routine such as taking a bath, coloring, knitting, drawing, listening to soft music, prayer, meditation or drinking a warm, milky drink to help your body wind down and relax after the day.
  • Stay up until you're feeling tired. Only go to bed when you feel tired as it might help you to fall asleep more quickly.

Create a comfortable bedroom environment: Improving our area of sleeping can help promote a better night’s sleep. A good quality bedroom environment consists of:

  • Black out blinds or curtains to keep the room as dark as possible.
  • Wearing an eye mask to block out any light if needed.
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature for sleeping- not too hot or too cold.
  • Wear ear plugs if noise is an issue.
  • Use your bed for its purpose only (sleeping). Try allow your body to associate your bed with sleep. Avoid watching TV, using electronics (phones, iPads, laptops) eating meals or snacks and even especially avoid working (from home) while you're in bed. This only keeps you awake longer.
  • Make sure you are using a comfortable mattress and ensure your bedding (pillows, duvet and sheets) are suitable for each of the changing seasons throughout the year.

Relax your mind: If we are anxious, stressed or worried, we may find it much more troublesome to sleep. Instead try some of the below activities to help switch off your mind at night and get a better-quality night’s sleep.

Keep a sleep diary: The NHS encourage people to keep a sleep diary if you have trouble sleeping. A sleep diary can help you to identify patterns of sleeping (or trouble sleeping) to try figure out if there are possible changes that could help you sleep better. You can discuss these diaries with your GP who may be able to explore other options with you if sleep continues to be a problem.

Distraction techniques:  If we lie in bed and cannot sleep, often our brains go into overdrive and we start overthinking, ruminating and worrying about worst case scenarios. If this is the case you can try a distraction technique which will help you focus on something other than your thoughts which can help you fall asleep. One exercise you can try is going through the alphabet and naming a flower beginning with A, B, C. You can do this with any item, name or place and repeat a couple of times if needed.

Keep a journal: Writing down your problems can help relieve some anxiety before going to sleep. By writing down your worries, you can put them aside for the night and work on finding some solutions for them in the morning.

Sleep apps and aids: There are lots of devices out there to help you monitor your quality of sleep including Fitbit and Apple watches. There are also lots of great apps which can help with some sleep aids such as sleep cycle.

Try relaxation exercises: finding a relaxation activity that you enjoy can help relax your muscles before sleep, reduce stress and anxiety and also can improve our REM sleep cycles promoting better sleep. Relaxation exercises include: mindfulness and breathing exercises.

If you really can’t sleep - get up: If your body is not ready to sleep, don't lie in bed feeling anxious and stressing about the amount of sleep you are getting that night. Instead, get up and try a relaxation activity (as mentioned above) for about 20 minutes and try again.

Sleep is vital to overall everyday functioning. Getting into a sleep routine can help promote better sleep. Everyone’s routine is different and it can take your body up to three weeks to reset its body clock. These take time! So, have patience and keep practising, but most of all, be kind to yourself!