16 Things That Can Make It Easier to Get Up in the Morning If Chronic Illness Makes You Exhausted
Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.
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Chronic illnesses can vary greatly, each causing different symptoms and affecting people’s lives in unique ways. One symptom that seems to overlap for most chronically ill folks is chronic fatigue (which is different than chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis, a separate illness with its own set of symptoms).
Chronic fatigue is not the same as the tiredness everyone naturally experiences from time to time. It doesn’t go away with a good night’s sleep, and its effects are not limited to “just” feeling tired or exhausted.
While most people are familiar with the struggle of having to leave a warm, cozy bed and get ready while still feeling a bit groggy, what those with chronic fatigue experience in the mornings is on another level entirely. It can feel physically impossible to get out of bed some days because the fatigue is so heavy and all-encompassing.
Everyone living with chronic illness is different. Some may need to get up early in the morning for work or school while others spend the day resting and managing their symptoms. Know your experiences are valid no matter what your morning looks like.
For those who need to get up in the morning but have a hard time due to fatigue, we turned to our Mighty community and asked them to share what helps them on these difficult mornings. Of course, we always recommend talking to your doctor first before trying any new treatments or therapies to help with your fatigue. But if you’re looking for some new ideas, perhaps the following list may provide some inspiration.
Here’s what our community recommended:
1. Light Therapy Lamp
Waking up (and actually getting up) can be difficult at any time – but if you are getting up to a dark room, it can be especially tempting to fall right back asleep. Certain lamps have the ability to project light that mimics sunlight at the same time every morning, so regardless of how dark you keep your room, or what time you have to wake up, you can “rise with the sun.”
“A 10,000 lux rated lamp [featured above] set on a timer to give you ‘sunlight’ at the same time each morning,” recommended Carolyn D. Rider.
“Light therapy box!” said Leanne Stearns. “Or even just opening the blinds. It especially helps when it’s been dreary and bleh and it helps wake me up. Sometimes I use it sitting down waking up or while I’m getting ready in the bathroom.”
“My sun lamp!” wrote Kitty Page. “It really helps with the sleep inertia I deal with, especially here in Washington.”
Buy the 10,000 lux light therapy lamp above for $57.99 from Amazon.
2. Needing to Take Care of Pets
If you have pets that need to be fed, walked or given some early morning back scratches or tummy rubs, their adorable faces can be helpful motivators for getting up. Of course, as much as we love our animals, there may be some days when getting up to take care of them ourselves just isn’t possible — so it’s important to take this into consideration if you’re considering adopting a pet.
“This lot wanting their breakfast…” said Laura Mary-Elizabeth.
“My hungry bunny,” wrote Anna Hall.
“His name is Benson,” said Nettie Britts.
“These two monkeys,” Ella Bowman shared. “They want breakfast.”
3. Heating Products
Whether it’s a heating pad, hot water bottle, electric blanket or so on, heating products are the BFFs of many folks with chronic conditions. Not only can they help relieve pain, but they can be incredibly soothing and help people cope with all the other symptoms they may experience.
One benefit of heat is that it can help improve your body’s circulation – as poor circulation can contribute to fatigue. When your arteries and veins are exposed to heat, they will temporarily expand, which can allow more blood to flow through.
“A hot steaming towel,” recommended Rosalia Skidmore. “I just wet a washcloth and toss it in the microwave for 30 seconds.”
“My heating pad,” added Mari Mittelholzer.
Buy the heating pad above for £21.55 from Amazon UK.
For some folks with chronic illness, eating can be either difficult or impossible due to any number of symptoms. But if you’re able to prepare and eat breakfast, some food in the morning could both be something tasty to look forward to as well as necessary fuel to provide you with even a small amount of energy.
“The prospect of breakfast,” said Rebecca Elatha Bean. “The bowl of cereal waiting for me downstairs is my main motivation for getting out of bed. I might not be hungry, but I eat cereal a lot and it’s a nice comfort food! I treat myself to nice cereals so that I’ve got something to look forward to in the mornings.”
Hope Hartmann said, “Easy to make meals. On days where my fatigue is terrible, meal plans and instant food saves me.”
“It might sound simple, but chocolate milk. It’s sweet, cool and soothing for me. It’s not something that necessarily helps me bounce out of bed, but it is something that I can look forward to if I haven’t had a good, cool glass of chocolate milk in a while,” Malyn Rogers explained. “It just helps the soul in the simplest way.”
Buy the 1-minute oats above (55 servings) for $13.48 from Amazon.
5. Doing Your Makeup
With the unpredictable nature of chronic illness, there may be days when doing your makeup just isn’t a priority or a possibility. But for some, makeup can be a helpful coping mechanism on mornings that are difficult due to fatigue or other symptoms. As Mighty contributor Maria Grace explains, “Makeup brings me joy on days when the symptoms of my illnesses become roadblocks to most other physical activities. Seeing beauty in my quirky, uncooperative body is a big victory.”
“Makeup!” said Arica Smith. “I found that doing my makeup for just myself makes me feel better and I’m able to set goals and accomplish them on my good days.”
Buy the cream concealer above for $28 from Cover FX.
6. Mobility Aids
It’s been said, “we all need somebody to lean on…” But for those with chronic fatigue, it might be helpful to have an actual something. As Mighty community member Billikay P. put it, chronic fatigue is “like having your body filled with wet sand. Every part of your body is extremely heavy and hard to move.” If holding yourself upright is difficult, having a mobility aid like a cane or walker on hand can help provide support and stability.
“Once I’m up, my walking cane helps me walk on days where I’m extremely fatigued,” Amy Clements told us.
“My walker,” added Kathy A. Zabliski. “When I am stiff and tired and sore, I can lean on it and roll to where I have to go.”
Buy the portable cane above for CDN $21.99 from Amazon Canada.
7. Smart Home Devices
If you struggle to get up in the morning due to fatigue, smart home devices have a number of functions that may be useful. You can set alarms, play music, turn on the lights or listen to a rundown of your to-do list for the day by simply saying a few words.
“I work from home but on days I have an early meeting, I’m grateful for my Alexa – it’s a great backup alarm clock, and it’s loud!” Linda Josey told us.
For more community recommendations, check out these helpful smart home devices.
Hydration is important to your health for a number of reasons, but it can be especially helpful for those who struggle with chronic fatigue. Dehydration has been shown to cause fatigue and decrease alertness and concentration, so drinking a glass of water or two in the morning may be beneficial.
“Water, before I even climb out of bed I drink a whole glass of water,” explained Jassica Jean. “Often we forget how important it is to stay hydrated.”
“Alarm clock,” wrote Maryse Faucher. “Got more than one. Bottle of water so I drink it fast as it will induce the toilet need and that’s effective to get me out of bed.”
Buy the water bottle above for $15.62 from Amazon Australia.
Studies have shown that meditation can help those with chronic illness combat fatigue. You could try meditating before bed to relieve stress and anxiety, leading to better sleep or meditating in the morning to help reduce any brain fog and improve your focus and concentration.
“Black coffee and then I meditate. The meditation before medication helps keep me balanced and clears any brain fog,” wrote Barbara Macaluso.
Emma Louise explained, “Listening to my meditation app sets me up for the day and puts me in the right mindset.”
“I’ve found the best way to help me get out of bed is to use sleep meditation apps the night before!” Sharmeen Robins said. “I’m using an app called Pzizz and it’s designed to get you to fall into a deep sleep, then you set your alarm and it gently wakes you up gradually rather than with a loud alarm ringing out of the blue. Has made me feel normal for the first time in two years!”
Depending on your unique health situation, stretching may have numerous benefits, such as improving flexibility or relieving stress and tension from muscles. But regular stretching – especially of the muscles in your lower extremities that play a key role in mobility – has been shown to help improve blood circulation, energy levels and help you recharge. You could try doing a few gentle stretches while you’re still lying in bed or as you’re getting ready in the morning.
Jacqueline Collins recommended, “Stretching prior to rising from the bed. You won’t notice a difference right away, but the one day you forget and get up in a hurry, without extending your neck and limbs, you’ll definitely notice!”
Check out these 7 simple exercises you can do in a wheelchair or sitting down.
For many folks, music can be immensely rejuvenating for the mind and soul – and when you live with chronic fatigue, any amount of rejuvenation can go a long way. Whether you find that blaring heavy metal in the morning startles you awake enough to get you moving or playing some classical music brings you enough focus and clarity to start tackling your responsibilities, music could play a helpful and, er, instrumental role in your morning routine.
“Music,” wrote Erica L. Reed. “Preferably some 90s Ska, very loud. And turning on all the lights in my general vicinity.”
“I use music,” Bev Erley shared. Even though I’m tired, when I put a song [on] it transports my mind, body and soul to a place of happiness.”
“Music,” said Tierra M. Nauman. “I get annoyed but play it loud enough through my Bluetooth speakers and I’ll get up.”
12. V8 Energy Drinks
Energy drinks may be a popular choice for those who are low on energy or sleep, but if you’re looking for a more nutrient-packed option, V8 Energy drinks contain fruits, vegetables and green tea – plus caffeine.
“I’ve been on several meds and tried every energy drink/supplement out there. They either don’t work or make my heart race then cause a sugar crash. These [V8 Energy drinks] give me enough energy to actually get off the couch and not feel horrible once the energy wears off,” Ashley Libstorff explained.
Tracy Turner Shelby added, “I drink a V8 Energy while I’m in the shower.”
Buy the V8 Energy drinks above (24-pack) for $14.21 from Amazon.
Essential oils are believed to have various health benefits. Some of the oils that may help boost energy and alertness include citrus oils (such as grapefruit, lemon and orange), peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, black pepper or ginger. Try diffusing some in the morning for a bit of a refreshing boost.
“Aromatherapy! Orange and lemon oils give me the boost I need to clear my mind,” Becky Ash told us.
Liberty White said, “I like MONQ personal aromatherapy diffusers. They have different blends for different purposes. The blends with mint or citrus are refreshing. Usually, the temptation of eating food gets me out of bed, though.”
14. Tea and Kettle
Green, black, oolong and white teas contain an antioxidant called theanine, which is believed to have a number of health benefits such as boosting energy and helping regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Some teas also contain caffeine, which can increase alertness. Others may simply look forward to having a hot beverage to wake up to in the morning.
If you’re a tea drinker, you may also benefit from having an electric kettle on your nightstand or near your bedroom so you can prepare your morning tea with minimal effort.
“Green tea!” said Cassidy Schod. “Caffeine helps my pain sometimes and make me less cranky!”
“Tea. Hot, strong, milky breakfast tea. By the bucket full… *spot the English person,*” wrote Emma Jiggle Hill.
“I keep my bedroom pretty cold, so having a warm robe or blanket to wrap up in helps me. Keeping an electric kettle in my bathroom also helps, because I can have a hot cup of tea in my hand before I even leave the bedroom,” wrote Teresa Piskator.
“Yerba Mate Tea! [featured above]” recommended Sierra Brown. “It is easier on my stomach than coffee and has a more mellow but longer lasting energy.”
Sometimes distractions are one of the most helpful ways to cope with overwhelming symptoms. Listening to an audiobook may not physically lessen your fatigue, but it could help pull your mind away to the universe of the story so you can focus on that rather than your fatigue and other symptoms.
“I put on an audiobook and listen while I get up, have breakfast and get to work,” explained Alexandra Allen. “When I’m listening all the way from bed to desk I’m not thinking about how much I want to stay where I am.”
Subscribe to Audible for $14.95/month (following a 30-day free trial period) on Amazon.
16. Giving Yourself Time
While the average healthy person may be able to hit the ground running every morning, those with chronic fatigue may need a little (or a lot) of extra time to wake up and start their day. Maybe you need an extra 20 minutes in bed to stretch, drink some water and give yourself time to wake up. Maybe it takes a few hours. And maybe, some days, you’re not able to get up at all. Whatever your morning, or day, looks like, your symptoms and experiences are valid. You deserve to take as much time as you need to rest and do whatever you need to do for yourself and your health.
“A large glass of water helps a little bit. But honestly I just have to give myself plenty of time to get up and get going,” said Megan McDonald.
Annie Jobe added, “Setting aside time in the morning to just sit and be. Sitting in the sun’s rays with a cup of coffee and just being is really refreshing and helps me get a healthier, happier mindset for the rest of my day.”