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Sleep is important for your overall health and some people only occasionally have trouble sleeping but when you have chronic pain more often than not sleep troubles are a pretty regular thing because of your pain. People without chronic pain only have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to pee but when you have chronic pain that is the least of your problems and your biggest concern is waking up in the middle of the night with intense pain. Sleeping is as important for chronic pain sufferers as it is for anyone else but it is harder when you have that annoying pain that is there constantly and won’t go away. Getting good sleep is hard with chronic pain is hard with pain and will always be much harder for you than it will be for someone without it. I have always struggled with sleep since the day I started having chronic pain so in this post I talk about some ways I get better sleep while living with pain.
Set your room up for bed- If you want to fall asleep more easily you need to make sure that the environment in which you sleep is set up right because if there is too much light or it’s noisy you will have the hardest time falling asleep. When I go to sleep I always turn my fan on and shut my door because if I don’t do those two things I’ll never fall asleep. A shut door helps block extra noise or light and my fan keeps my room cool so I can prevent a migraine while I am sleeping which would wake me up. I am always very annoyed when this happens because there is nothing to do at four in the morning.
Turn off devices- If you have trouble falling asleep and are using your devices before bed that may be the reason why you’re having so much trouble and a good place to start would be to turn off your devices! Studies have shown that the blue light on your devices can interfere with your sleep cycles because it stops the production of melatonin which you need in order to feel tired and be able to fall asleep quickly. If you have been having trouble falling asleep turn off your devices an hour before bed and instead of browsing Facebook read a book.
Avoid taking naps- If you get chronic pain and have trouble sleeping I think it can be very helpful to take a nap to get more zzz’s but if that nap is too long it could be messing up your sleep schedule. Three-hour naps are okay to do every once and while but I would not make a habit of it because it may make sleeping at night more difficult because you won’t be tired! Instead of trying to take ridiculously long naps try and stick to a short one no more than an hour during the day. Power naps are good to do during the day and won’t disrupt your sleep if it’s a true power nap!
Exercise smart-You all know that I love to exercise and that it’s literally killing me that I can’t during my hip replacement recovery! I usually exercise at night because it helps me sleep but I am never doing anything intensity and usually, it’s only a simple Pilates routine or some light weight lifting. Exercise increases endorphins so you become more alert which is not a problem for some people but for others it’s a major issue and a thirty-minute workout will keep you up all night long. If you have been exercising late at night and find you’re not sleeping then it’s probably your exercise routine and you should probably consider either doing something lighter like Pilates or Yoga or doing it during the day.
Get out of bed- Sometimes I am having the hardest time falling asleep because I get anxious thinking about everything I need to do that week. I am one of those people that is not okay with waiting and likes to get everything done now because I am always afraid I’ll forget something important later. I don’t know why I do that to myself because I always remember what I have to do the next day! When this happens and my anxiety feels like it’s controlling me sometimes all it takes is getting out of bed for twenty minutes to distract myself. I often turn the tv on and watch a short episode of my favorite programs and a lot of the time I become tired.
Try Lavender- When I am have been having difficulty sleeping for days sometimes diffusing my favorite calming essential oils is what I need to fall asleep. There will always be days when pain is too high and nothing works but not every day is like that and sometimes all it takes is diffusing your favorite oils for twenty minutes. Lavender oil is not suitable for everyone because it is bothersome to some people so another good substitute you can try that will help you relax is eucalyptus oil. If you are pregnant or have young kids I would be careful and check with your doctor because some essential oils are harmful to young children and shouldn’t be used when you’re pregnant.
Go to bed early– Chronic pain is unpredictable and you can never plan when you are going to have a good or bad day because it just happens without warning. If you are having a low pain day sleeping is not going to be as much of an issue as it will be on a high pain day but unfortunately, you won’t know when high pain days are coming until it’s too late! Go to bed early and plan as if your only going to sleep three hours because sometimes that may be true and if you go to bed an hour earlier than usual then it’s one more hour than it would have gotten but if you end up sleeping there’s nothing wrong with that either!
Find the right pillow and mattress- The way I am sleeping affects my pain and if I am not sleeping with the right pillow or on the right mattress I will have more. I don’t like a pillow that are too fluffy because they aren’t comfortable to me or a mattress that is too hard since it gives me back pain so I am very mindful that I don’t have these things for better sleep. If you have had trouble sleeping and haven’t changed your pillow or mattress in a few years that may be your problem. Over time pillows and mattresses lose their comfort so at some point you may want to consider in getting new ones to remain comfortable
Mind your nutrition- The food you eat affects your pain because if you are eating the wrong types of food it can worsen your pain so you have trouble sleeping. Keep a food diary so you know what foods are okay to have and what foods you should avoid preventing more pain. Food and sleep go hand and hand so if you can get in better control of your diet it will help improve your sleep.
Listen to music- Sometimes when I am struggling to fall asleep I listen to some soft music to help me fall asleep. I don’t listen to the same kind of music that I would listen to if I was awake becuase I usually like to listen to something that is more upbeat so I have a specific playlist I use for sleeping!
See your doctor- If your sleep is so bad that you feel like you need a pot of coffee to get through your day then it’s time to go see your doctor because no one should ever need that much coffee to get through their morning and something else is probably going on causing you not to sleep well. Your doctor will be able to figure out what is the true cause of your sleep troubles and give you tips or medication better than any advocate can.
Sleeping can be hard when you have chronic pain because you never know if your pain levels are going to high which can affect your sleep schedule. Some days I get eight hours of sleep without a problem because my pain isn’t high enough where it would give me insomnia and affect my sleep but some days I sleep much less than that. I never know how well I am going to sleep because my pain is unpredictable so I can feel totally fine today but miserable tomorrow. I cannot control my chronic pain and it’s just something that happens, but I can control what time I go to bed. I try not to have super late night because I never know if I will be able to sleep the full eight hours that your supposed to get or only three or four. It’s almost best to think ahead because if all else fails at least you can get a couple hours. Do you have trouble sleeping with chronic pain and how do you get some sleep?