October 21, 2019
Back in 2015, a poll by The National Sleep Foundation explored the prevalence of sleep problems in individuals with chronic pain. Understandably, pain severely reduces the quality and quantity of sleep for the more than 20% of adults who regularly experience pain. This lack of sleep doesn’t just make people tired the next day, either. Missing out on sleep can make chronic pain worse and exacerbate health conditions. It can also lead to poor habits, like overeating sugar, which leaves a further negative impact on health and pain.
So, what can you do when your chronic pain keeps you up at night? First and foremost, talk with your Riverside Pain physician about your sleep problems, as well as any change in your symptoms or condition. You may need a sleep study, individualized suggestions, or a change in medications. Once you’re given the all-clear, consider trying some of these tips and suggestions for better sleep:
Exercise, But Not Right Before Bed
You don’t want exercise to wind you up, so try to exercise in the morning or afternoon well before bedtime. Exercise provides powerful benefits to the body and promotes a good night’s sleep. Talk with your doctor about exercises that are right for your pain condition, including gentle exercises like swimming or walking.
Have a Bedtime Routine
Try to have a nightly plan that relaxes and soothes you before bed. Turn off your phone, television, and computer at least an hour before bed, so as to not let the lights disrupt your sleep routine. Instead, read a book, journal, listen to calming music, practice restorative yoga, or do a meditation exercise. Warm baths are also great for both pain relief and healthy sleep. Many people derive benefit from aromatherapy and herbal teas, as well.
Keep Your Other Habits In Check
Eating, drinking caffeinated beverages, or indulging in alcohol within a few hours of bedtime can lead to even worse sleep quality. Instead, strive to make healthy nutrition choices throughout the day and have a reasonable gap between dinner and bedtime.
Change Your Sleep Position or Sleep Environment
Certain sleep positions or pillows may make your chronic pain worse. Consider sleeping in a different position, adding more or less pillows, or choosing different blankets based on your specific pain needs.
Have a Consistent Bedtime and Wake Time
As much as possible, try to maintain consistent sleep and wake times. This will help your body’s internal sleep clock to expect to fall asleep at a specific time. As tempting as it is to sleep in on the weekends, this can actually make sleep problems worse.
Waking with Chronic Pain
If you do find yourself still unable to sleep or waking without returning to sleep, it’s okay to get up and do a relaxing activity. Feeling stressed or frustrated over the sleep that you’re missing can make it even harder to go back to sleep. Instead, try to keep the lights low as you read a book or magazine, take a warm bath, or use a heating pad. Avoid electronic devices or household tasks. Quiet, calming activities are much more likely to help you feel sleepy again.
While sleep problems are common in many people, those who experience chronic pain have unique needs and concerns. Riverside Pain Physicians can help you manage your pain and improve your sleep, as well as your overall quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your chronic pain. We have locations in Orange Park, Monument, Jacksonville Beach, and the Southside.
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