Getting a restful night’s sleep can be a challenge for any busy adult. That’s especially true when you’re dealing with chronic pain. Some doctors estimate that 50 to 80% of their patients with such conditions often find it difficult to sleep.
It can be a self-perpetuating cycle. Pain interrupts sleep, and the lack of sleep makes pain more difficult to bear because your central nervous system remains aroused.
You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Even if you go to bed on time, you may not feel refreshed in the morning because you missed out on the restorative stages of sleep your mind and body need.
How can you get back on track? Try these tips for sleeping well with chronic pain.
Changing Your Sleeping Habits:
- Upgrade your mattress. Back pain affects about 80% of adults at some point during their lives. A mattress that is too firm or too soft pushes your spine out of alignment. Replace it before it becomes saggy.
- Arrange pillows. Depending on your sleep position, an ordinary pillow could make you more comfortable. For example, put it between your knees to keep your hips even if you sleep on your side.
- Hit the floor. Some adults find relief by sleeping on the floor. To keep things tidy, use a mat or sleeping bag and vacuum your carpet each day.
- Do something else. Do you wake up frequently during the night? Unless counting sheep puts you back to sleep, you may benefit from getting out of bed until you’re drowsy again. Fill the time with a boring activity like sorting laundry.
- Avoid caffeine. If you’re prone to pain, caffeine can lower your threshold even more. Taper off gradually to see if it makes a difference for you.
- Try natural aids. Many expensive products that claim to enhance your sleep have little scientific research to back them up. On the other hand, drinking chamomile tea or using lavender oil is safe for most adults.
- Consider medication. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping 3 or more nights a week, or if lack of sleep is interfering with your life. They may prescribe certain drugs temporarily or give you other recommendations.
Changing Your Thinking Habits:
Day or night, there are some psychological approaches that can make pain easier to live with. Adjusting your outlook could have an impact on your physical symptoms and your sleep.
Try these strategies:
- Think positive. Physical pain can affect your mood and add to your stress. Try to maintain a cheerful outlook and find activities you can still enjoy. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends.
- Breathe deeply. Taking full breaths is an easy way to relax your body. Lie on your back to help you inhale from your abdomen rather than your chest. Extend your exhalations. Do breathing exercises a few times a day.
- Shift your attention. Use distractions to take your mind off your arthritis or sciatica. Watch funny movies or visit an aquarium.
- Zoom in. On the other hand, you might need to focus on the body parts that bother you. Imagine breathing warm and healing light into them.
- Honor your limits. Do you toss and turn at night because you tried to do too much during the day? Set realistic expectations and treat yourself with compassion.
Sleep remedies vary by individual, and you may find yourself searching for new solutions as your medical conditions or other factors evolve over time. However, your need for sleep remains the same. Keep experimenting with natural methods and talk with your doctor if you need more help.