Often people with ME/CFS find their quality of sleep is poor and unrefreshing despite how long they may sleep. Sleep is essential for our body to physically and mentally re-energise and restore itself.

A woman asleep in bed

  • Sleep: what's normal?
    • To wake up several times a night and for our bodies to change with age or health problems. To wake up more to change position or use the bathroom
    • To go through periods when sleep is disturbed or to have nights when sleep doesn’t arrive easily
    • There is no “right” amount of sleep
  • Fatigue & Pain as part of a bigger problem

    Fatigue/Pain → Periods of poor sleep → Frustration/anxiety about sleep problems → Unhelpful sleep behaviours → Mentally alert → Fatigue/Pain

  • How can we disentangle from this vicious cycle and improve sleep?
    • Your body likes routines and rhythms. Keep the same bed and wake time, regardless of what time you went to bed or how well you slept. Establishing a good sleep pattern can take several weeks, don’t panic if things don’t shift straight away
    • Learn to enjoy resting in bed even if not sleeping
    • Pushing too hard to improve sleep will push sleep further away – STRUGGLE – activates DRIVE and THREAT rather than SOOTHE mode.
  • What about napping?

    Having short naps before 3pm are ok and some people find this helpful. Keeping naps to 20-30 minutes is less likely to impact your sleep during the night.

  • Sleep hygiene


    • Keep a regular routine
    • Get regular exposure to outdoor light during the day
    • Keep the bedroom comfortable
    • Only use bedroom for sleep and intimacy
    • Allow wind-down time before bed
    • Relaxation techniques
    • Engaging in you valued activity as best you can during the day
    • If you can’t sleep within 20-30mins, read or another calm activity


    • Exercise before bed
    • Engage in stimulating activity before bed
    • Use blue light devices before bed
    • Smoke before bed
    • Consume caffeine in the evening
    • Use alcohol to help sleep
    • Go to bed too hungry or full
    • Try and force sleep
  • Sleep and medication