The Mighty Logo

22 'Hacks' That Can Make Sleeping With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Easier

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

When you have a chronic illness, many think all you do is sleep – but little do they know the struggle that sleep can often be for those living with chronic illnesses. What they might not realize is that, due to the constant pain, sometimes sleep can be extremely hard to come by, especially for those with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

Thanks to the never-ending list of symptoms EDS can cause, getting comfortable enough to sleep can be difficult — whether it be due to subluxing joints, or the constant EDS pain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t have the recovery time they so badly need. This can greatly impact our mental health and also make functioning on a daily basis difficult.

That is why we asked our Mighty community for some hacks that can make sleeping easier when you have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. If you struggle with sleep due to your EDS, hopefully these tips will help you get the rest you deserve!

Here is what our community said:  

  1. “Pregnancy pillow!! I lay in the middle of it and it kinda cradles my joints to stay in place.” – Kellie V.
  2. “Go throw a bunch of ingredients in the slow cooker at 3 a.m. so it’ll be minimal effort to get food in me at noon when I’ve finally gotten some sleep.” – Kristen M.
  3. “Weighted blanket. Keeps me held down and usually stops me from twisting around too weirdly. I got my blanket in the first place for pressure when I sleep (I love it), but I think that it helps with my hEDS too.” – Kassi P.
  4. “A purple brand pillow, heated blanket and sleep meds plus pain meds. If really needed, ear plugs, so I can concentrate on ignoring the pain so I can sleep.” – Denyl B.
  5. “The combination of a U-shaped pillow, so I can have hip support, and my weighted blanket. Also? My before bed ritual is important, 15 minutes with my soft, pump up, cervical traction unit, and my TENS unit on whatever part of me that is in the most pain. This ritual relaxes my muscles so I can have a better chance at falling asleep.” – Tammy B.
  6. “I listen to relaxation music (Llewellyn!), lavender on my pressure points, my usual medication and my rechargeable hot water bottle. Most importantly… my cats.” – Amber N.
  7. “Two memory foam body pillows on either side of me to prevent me from rolling over. A soft collar for my neck, along with bracing any joints currently acting up. I avoid technology after a certain time and read, listen to an audiobook or journal for downtime. Then I meditate and hope that the stars are properly aligned, lol!” – Samm D.
  8. “Pillows help. I always put my blankets in between my knees and ankles and sleep with a good pillow for the head and neck and pillows or smaller blankets on the edges of me help also. Melatonin gummies work the best.” – Lily M.
  9. “My indispensables for sleep have been a U-shaped maternity pillow to help prevent subluxations, medical cannabis tincture to combat the nighttime triple threat of pain, anxiety and insomnia and listening to my favorite recorded books on the Audible app with the sleep timer set. If I’m missing my pillow, drops, or Audible, then painsomnia is going to get the better of me. Thankfully this combination has proven comforting and effective for me.” – Alexandria M.
  10. “A body pillow. Eye mask. Audio books.” – Erika D.
  11. “I sleep on a futon that’s up in the couch position, with another futon couch sandwiched up against it. Then I have a 4-inch memory foam mattress topper on the couch. So I’m squished into a U-shaped tunnel, basically. I have a lot of pillows in there too, every which way- in between knees, pressing on back, under the arms, on top of the head, etc. Teddy bears support my wrists and hands. So I’m propped up and compressed in all directions. Also a heating pad and heated blanket in there too. Snug as a bug in a rug. I still toss and turn but it’s not as painful as a normal bed.” – Helen M.
  12. “My heated blanket, ibuprofen and ASMR videos get me to sleep when I can’t drift off.” – Brianna L.
  13. “A 3-inch foam mattress topper has worked wonders for me. It supports my joints so much more than just my regular mattress.  I use a white noise machine to help block out background noise.” – Ashley B.
  14. “Heat pad and a bath with bath salts.” – Lindsey B.
  15. “If it’s too much for me to sleep, I get up and watch crime documentaries or SVU. Making myself stay in bed, in excruciating pain is pointless. I’ll sleep when I’m able to, I don’t want to torment myself by staring at the ceiling all night.” – Izzie W.
  16. “I sleep in a recliner chair currently as can’t afford twin adjustable bed yet, I can’t lay flat as my hips/knees and shoulders all dislocate but in recliner my knees are supported and shoulders and cupped in by the surround so I’m supported through the night.” – Craig R.
  17. “I found a song that always puts me to sleep. “Weightless” – Marconi Union. I keep this song on repeat for the entire night and it just releases all of my stress and seems to shut off my mind. Even if I wake up throughout the night. Something simple, and helps. For me at least.” – Miranda S.
  18. “I have chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia. If I’ve been in a quiet room trying to fall asleep for close to an hour with no luck I will turn on a movie I have seen before. Then I will also play a repetitive game on my phone like coloring or a matching game. Double occupying my mind with things it can easily do works like rocking a baby to sleep; eventually I will start to nod off and only when I’m completely exhausted do I try again.” – Kaylla S.
  19. “Fan, heating pad and heated blanket that automatically shut off, lots of pillows, compression tights and splints within reach of the bed, books and tablet/Kindle, ginger candies on nightstand, head of the bed is raised, wrist splints on throughout the night, bath before bed.” – Chloé W.
  20. “Medical cannabis oils have been the only thing to help my ‘painsomnia.’” – Melissa A.
  21. “4-7-8 breathing. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.” – Shanin B.
  22. “I stick to a rigid routine with bedtime and getting up time. No deviations apart from if I just feel like a lie in. I have to have structure in my day.” – Lara K.

When your body is constantly fatigued, yet your body is in chronic pain, sleep can be a challenge. Hopefully this list can provide you with some ideas for getting a more restful night’s sleep.

Originally published: February 20, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home