Tired woman sitting at a table with a mug of coffee.

Mornings are Tough with CF

Not a morning person?

You’re definitely not alone. Our circadian rhythms have an impact on how alert we are throughout the day and how well we handle the demands of early mornings. If early morning meetings aren’t your thing, you probably come alive much later at night like most night owls when others are just heading to bed. Our individual circadian rhythms are just part of who we are - good or bad.

Fatigue and cystic fibrosis

However, how we handle early mornings can sometimes also be related to our health and well-being as with cystic fibrosis. People with CF are notorious for not being morning people. All the CF in-patient hospital door signs that read, “Do not wake before 9 AM for vitals” point to that very fact. Mornings are just tough for us in general. But why?

Poor health and fatigue, disrupted sleep, and jam-packed morning routines with heavy treatment burdens are some of the unique difficulties that make the start of the day harder when living with cystic fibrosis.

No fix for fatigue

Fatigue is an extremely common reported symptom in cystic fibrosis. According to one research study, fatigue was reported consistently on 73% of days during disease stability and on 98% of days during exacerbations.1 Often, there’s a lot of misconception about what it means to be fatigued. Unlike tiredness, fatigue is not sleep-dependent. A good night of sleep is not a complete fix for chronic fatigue. Dealing with fatigue can be a draining cycle that really puts a damper on the morning when people expect to have the most energy, but sadly do not.

Disrupted sleep is exhausting

Poor sleep quality and disrupted sleep are also an issue for people with CF impacting morning time. Many people sleep soundly throughout the night and, as a result, feel rested upon waking. For many individuals with CF, frequent episodes of coughing, lower oxygen saturation, pain, and lower sleep efficiency have an impact on the way they feel in the morning.2 It’s difficult to get out of bed when you feel like you barely slept.

Troubling treatment burden

It’s no secret that the treatment burden in CF is high. Extending beyond the actual time spent taking medications and doing airway clearance, treatment burden includes both the mental and logistical navigation of living with CF. The mornings can be especially busy as I prepare my body for the day - airway clearance, pills, insulin, food, etc. It’s a lot to tackle and can feel especially stressful when tired or sick. Sometimes it feels like just as I complete a round of airway clearance, I’m gearing up to start the entire process again.

To all the night owls out there, you’re not alone in your struggle to get moving in the wee hours of the day. Just try to remember to celebrate all that your body does to prepare for a day and go from there. Don’t feel bad if you hit snooze once or twice in the meantime!

Although CF brings unique challenges to getting up and going for the day, there are ways to help coax you along when needed. Tune in for part 2 where I will share some especially helpful tips to making mornings less difficult when living with CF.

Are you a morning person or night owl? Or neither? What helps you make the best of an early morning? Share with us below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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