Sleeplessness And Chronic Pain: 6 Tips That May Help Sleep Better
January 18, 2018 15:00 By Fabiosa
Dealing with chronic pain – be it your back that constantly hurts or painful joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis – can create other problems, including insomnia. This phenomenon is known colloquially as “painsomnia”.
If you have chronic pain, you probably know that it can make it harder to fall asleep and get the full eight hours of rest you need. In the vicious cycle of sleeplessness and pain, the latter prevents you from sleeping well, and you aren’t fully rested the next day, which can in turn make your pain more severe (or make you less resistant to pain). So, in addition to treating chronic pain, you’re faced with the task of finding ways to sleep well again to prevent your condition from getting worse.
Here’s what you can do if you have chronic pain that causes sleep issues:
Create an environment that facilitates sleep
Dark and quiet bedroom with comfortable temperature is what you need to sleep well. Unfortunately, such an environment doesn’t offer any distractions from the pain. You can try turning on some relaxing sounds (such as rain, ocean tide, forest, or even white noise – whatever works for you) to listen to when trying to fall asleep.
Stick to a set bedtime routine
Go to bed at night and get up in the morning at a fixed time every day. Refrain from using electronic devices just before bedtime as the light they emit can prevent your brain from getting a cue that it’s time to sleep. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and hearty meals shortly before turning in.
Stay physically active
Chronic pain can limit your physical activity to a certain extent. Ask your doctor what types of exercise you can do safely. Exercise is known to improve almost every aspect of your health, including sleep. It’s best to schedule your exercise routine for the mornings or early evenings if possible because working out before bedtime can prevent you from falling asleep as quickly as you should.
If you can’t sleep, do something else
Instead of lying in bed wide awake and worrying about your sleeplessness and not getting enough rest, get up and do something relaxing, such as reading a book or listening to calm music. Once you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.
Ask your doctor about a TENS device
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a relatively new method used to relieve pain. Ask your doctor whether this treatment would be appropriate for you, and whether he or she can recommend such device that can be used at night while you sleep.
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to treat a variety of conditions, and there is a specific type of CBT to treat insomnia (CBT-I). During CBT-I sessions, you will learn how to correct thought and behaviors that prevent you from sleeping normally. Many people find CBT-I helpful.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.