Manage Your Liver

Sleep and Cirrhosis – How can I improve my sleep?


Fatigue and sleep problems are very common among cirrhosis patients. Some nights you can’t go to sleep, other nights you wake up every two hours. We know it can be very frustrating. So here, we are going to look at some ways which may help you get a good night’s sleep. It could be the key to improve your quality of life.


We all know that sleeping well is important, since a quality sleep can help our body to repair, strengthen our immune system, and improve our metabolism. Unfortunately, studies show that sleeping pattern changes with liver cirrhosis, and studies revealed that cirrhotic patients have disturbed sleep patterns, correlating with the degree of cirrhosis. [1] This means the more advanced your cirrhosis, the less sleep you are going to get.


The cause of this is not entirely clear, at the moment we only know that cirrhosis can adversely affect brain function, and one possible explanation is that toxins build up in the blood when the liver is malfunctioning, possibly interfering with normal brain processes. Hepatic encephalopathy is the medical term for the disruption in brain function caused by liver disease. [2]


Here are 8 tips that might help to improve your sleep:


Enhance your liver & kidney function
Enhancing your liver and kidney function so that toxic substances are removed from your body is the best way to improve your sleep. We recommend you to look at YHK and DTS, both of which are natural supplements proven to enhance our detoxification system. They are also said to have anti-fibrotic properties which may prevent further liver fibrosis. [3][4] These supplements are backed up by research data and clinical studies, and are safe to use for liver disease patients. To learn more about these products, you can read related research here:




Eat way before your bedtime & limit coffee intake
To avoid waking up frequently in the middle of the night for the bathroom, eat dinner at around 5-6 p.m. and avoid any snacks or drinks after that. It is also recommended that you avoid any coffee or tea intake 6 hours before your bedtime. This might be an obvious tip, but it surely is one worth reiterating! [5]


Give yourself time to fall asleep
Get in bed earlier and lie down with your eyes closed. Understand that it might take you some time to fall asleep and try not to get frustrated if you don’t immediately. Worrying only makes it worse. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the best time to go to bed is from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. This is the time our liver effectively repairs itself, so sleeping well or even just resting during this time may help the liver to recover better. [6]


Calm yourself before going to bed
If you find it difficult to fall asleep, try to calm yourself before you go to bed with some soft music, light massage or a warm bath. Or simply lie down earlier to relax and let your mind go blank. This helps you to relieve stress which in turn improves your quality of sleep. Some essential oils can also help you calm down and may help you fall and stay asleep. In addition, avoid bright light sources such as TV, computer and smartphone screens or high energy activities at least one hour before you sleep. [7]


Keep to a regular daily schedule
Fit your activities and exercise into a regular daily schedule, weekends included. E.g. you wake up, eat your meals, do exercise and go to sleep at about the same time every day. This helps to maintain the timing of our internal biological clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily. [5][7]


Keep away from obvious reasons for sleep loss
Sometimes, we wake up because of obvious reasons, such as babies’ crying, loud neighbors or your cat’s wet tongue. Keep away from anything that might wake you up or disturb your sleep. E.g. get thicker curtains to block morning sunlight, or keep pets (or even a snoring husband) out of your room. [7] 


Do not rely on medication and drugs to go to sleep
It is very important that you avoid using sleeping pills or other drugs for sleep problems. All kinds of medication can potentially harm your liver and cause further damage. *You MUST consult a medical professional before using any medication and drugs. [8]


Do not give up easily
Perseverance is the key! Making lifestyle changes can be challenging at first. But bear in mind that these are positive changes and allow some time for your body to get used to your new way of life. Carry on for some time and eventually you’ll see the difference! 

  1. AL-Jahdali, H., et al. (2014) “Prevalence of Insomnia and Sleep Patterns among Liver Cirrhosis Patients” Journal of Circadian Rhythms, 12(1): 2, pp. 1-6, DOI:
  2. Chopra, S. (n.d.). Complications of Cirrhosis. Retrieved from (accessed 18/9/2015)
  3. Stefano JT, de Oliveira CP, Corrêa-Giannella ML, de Lima VM, de Sá SV, de Oliveira EP, de Mello ES, Giannella-Neto D, Alves VA, Carrilho FJ. (2007) “Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in ob/ob mice treated with yo jyo hen shi ko (YHK): effects on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP)” Digestive Diseases and Sciences Dec;52(12):3448-54. PMID: 17394061
  4. de Lima VM, de Oliveira CP, Sawada LY, Barbeiro HV, de Mello ES, Soriano FG, Alves VA, Caldwell SH, Carrilho FJ. (2007) “Yo jyo hen shi ko, a novel Chinese herbal, prevents nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in ob/ob mice fed a high fat or methionine-choline-deficient diet” Liver International Mar;27(2):227-34. PMID: 17311618
  5. Insomnia and Liver Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from (accessed 18/9/2015)
  6. In Depth: Nine Ways to Conquer Insomnia. (3 February, 2009). Retrieved from (accessed 18/9/2015)
  7. Over-the-Counter Sleep Meds are Not Effective. (29 May, 2010). Retrieved from (accessed 21/9/2015)
  8. Over-the-Counter Sleep Meds are Not Effective. (29 May, 2010). Retrieved from (accessed 21/9/2015)
  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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