According to the National Sleep Foundation, 2/3 of people with chronic pain experience sleeping issues. Severe pain can make it difficult to find a comfortable position and fall asleep. Unfortunately, one begets the other, as little or poor sleep can lead to worse pain during the next day and night. The problem then can quickly get out of control with little sleep and more pain for the individual.
There’s not an easy answer for this problem, however, there are some small steps you can take to create a better sleep schedule for pain management.
The following suggestions are meant as guidelines to help you create thoughtful sleep habits and routines. While they can’t guarantee a painless night or even that the pain won’t keep you awake, they may help. More importantly, by following these guidelines, you’ll be helping your body relax into new habits, and hopefully, more restorative and restful sleep patterns.
To help yourself find a better sleep schedule, practice these habits:
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week
- If you take naps, aim to nap for no more than 10-20 minutes
- Reduce caffeine consumption and avoid it entirely in the afternoon and evening
- Limit alcohol consumption, especially in the evening, as it can lead to light sleep
- Create a sleep routine where you transition from high light and activity to the quiet dim of your bedroom
- Avoid harsh blue light from computer or television screens for at least an hour before going to sleep
- Practice relaxation techniques to quiet your body and mind before going to bed
- Get regular moderate-intensity exercise as approved by your doctor
- Aim to finish exercising at least four to eight before your scheduled bed time
- Find new ways of pain management by consulting your doctor about relaxation techniques, acupuncture, or other complementary therapies
- Research the medications you’re currently taking to see if any are exacerbating your sleeping problems; if so, discuss alternatives with your doctor
- If nothing else helps, under the direction of your doctor, consider using sleep aids to help your body return to a normal sleep cycle
Image by Betsssssy via Flickr