Sleep is essential for everyone, both physically and mentally. Without sleep, your body and mind are not able to recover properly from the rigours of the day. If you have long-term sleep problems it may mean that your immune system will not be working as well as it should. If you consider this on top of having HIV then it’s obvious that getting the sleep your body needs is an important factor in keeping yourself healthy.

Problems sleeping
It’s not unusual to have sleep problems if you’re HIV positive. There can be many reasons – stress or anxiety, for example, are very common reasons for having disturbed sleep patterns. It could be that certain symptoms of HIV are stopping you getting a good night’s sleep, such as night sweats. If you are taking anti-HIV drugs, then some of these can cause sleep problems. Efavirenz, for example, lists vivid dreams and insomnia amongst its most common side effects. If you are taking recreational drugs or drinking a lot of alcohol or caffeine, then these too will have an effect on your sleep patterns.

If you are having sleep problems then speak to your doctor. He or she will be able to talk through the possible reasons for this and look for a solution. Often a few changes to your daily routine can help. Try cutting down on your caffeine intake by not drinking any tea or coffee after midday. If it is anti-HIV drugs that are the problem then you may decide to change your combination to one that doesn’t include drugs that could affect your sleep.

Sleeping too much
There could be many reasons for sleeping too much so, if you are, then speak to your doctor about it and he or she will try to discover the causes. If you are feeling tired all the time then your energy levels are probably too low, and this could be something to do with your diet. If you are taking any medications that can cause drowsiness then these could also be to blame.

Sleeping too much and always feeling tired could also be a sign of depression. If you are feeling down most of the time as well, then it’s possible that depression could be the cause. We talk more about this in the section on depression.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about this so he or she can try to identify what’s causing the problem.

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