A Quick Guide to Sleeping Right for PWDs

A Quick Guide to Sleeping Right for PWDs

Never underestimate the perks of consistently good sleep. For many, getting good sleep is either underappreciated or a luxury too difficult to enjoy.

For people with physical and learning disabilities, research indicates that it’s more likely for them to suffer from sleep-related issues compared to those without disabilities.

The causes of bad sleep are numerous and difficult to pin down without a professional diagnosis. That said, it’s possible to remedy your sleep issues somewhat with a few tweaks to your lifestyle.

Establish a consistent sleep schedule

Too much sleep can be just as unhealthy as getting too little. Studies have shown that PWDs, in particular those with physical challenges, have a higher risk of depression if they regularly sleep for more than 9 hours a day.

Generally speaking, 7 hours is the ideal sleep duration for most adults. It’s 8 to 10 hours for teenagers, and up to 12 hours maximum for children aged 6 to 12 years old.

Of course, many PWDs might have a lower sleep duration than what is recommended. There are a few ideas to help rectify this, such as:

  • Cutting out noise and light before sleep – Having sound-dampeners in your bedroom or wearing earplugs are effective options. Sleep masks work great too if you’re sensitive to light.
  • Set alarms and/or use a sleep app – Tracking your sleep and setting reminders can work wonders if you’re having trouble maintaining a consistent sleep duration and pattern.
  • Say no to caffeine – At the very least, avoid it when you’re a couple hours away from bedtime.
  • Avoid digital entertainment in bed – Unless necessary, stop yourself from using your smartphone and other such devices if you’re an hour away from your regular ideal sleep time.

Pillow tips for PWDs

Having the right pillow is important, but using it right is arguably even more so. Determining the correct usage largely depends on your physical and mental condition.

For example, if you have an amputation above the knee, it’s ill-advised to rest your limbs on a pillow. You shouldn’t be tucking a body pillow between your knees either. This is because it creates a terrible sleeping posture, which could potentially misalign your hips and affect balance as you move around.

Meanwhile, the opposite is true for people with cerebral palsy. Having their knees around a body pillow can relieve muscle tension and back pains. A pillow around the torso provides similar benefits.

Getting an adjustable bed that allows for tilting and multiple elevations not only makes getting into bed easier, it may also promote more comfortable sleep. 

Seek out a professional opinion

Physical and mental conditions differ from person to person, so it’s always a good idea to consult an expert to ensure you’re adopting the right sleeping habits & assistive tools.

With the correct adjustments to your lifestyle, getting truly restful sleep won’t just be a dream.


The Snoozle (2021) Sleep: A Guide For People With Physical Disabilities [Accessed 24 August 2023] Available at: https://www.thesnoozle.com/pages/physical-disabilities-sleep-guide#section-6

Katie Golde (2023) Sleep And Disabilities: Everything You Should Know [Accessed 24 August 2023] Available at: https://www.mattressclarity.com/blog/sleep-disabilities-everything-should-know/

Karen Roy (2021) Pro Tips: Importance of Sleep to People with Disabilities [Accessed 24 August 2023] Available at: https://www.numotion.com/blog/march-2021