Don’t Let Chronic Pain Prevent You From Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Managing your pain and your sleep can benefit both
Chronic pain can interfere with daily life both night and day. While you may struggle to feel comfortable throughout the day, it’s even worse when you can’t get to sleep due to chronic pain. It’s tough to get to sleep and stay asleep when you’re experiencing pain. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, you may have a harder time managing your pain symptoms.
If you have chronic pain, you’re not alone. About a fifth of U.S. adults have chronic pain, and about 8 percent have high-impact chronic pain. How can you manage it so that you can get the sleep you need?
These pain management and sleep tips can help you get good quality rest and feel better.
Stay on top of pain treatment.
First and foremost, stay in communication with your doctor and follow your treatment plan. Pain medication, physical therapy, and other treatments are designed to help you feel better and alleviate your pain, so it’s important that you use your treatments as prescribed so you can get the most benefit from them. Stay on top of your pain, and if it’s keeping you from sleeping well, talk to your medical professionals about your concerns. They may have particular treatments for managing sleep at night and can take into account how any current medications might have an impact on your sleep.
Manage your sleep well.
Give yourself the best chance at sleep by practicing healthy sleep habits. Make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to sleep at night (generally, seven to nine hours of sleep is ideal). Stick to a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine for consistency. Sleep in a room that’s a healthy environment for sleep, with a comfortable mattress and minimal distractions, and keep it dark, cool, and quiet.
Avoid sleep pitfalls.
Certain actions can make it more difficult for you to sleep, even if you’re managing your pain well. Consuming caffeine too late in the day, even exercising just before bed, can make resting tough to do. Avoid late night screen time, and don’t try to help yourself sleep with a nightcap of alcohol – it could make it easier to fall asleep but will lower the quality of your sleep.
Use relaxation techniques to sleep better.
Sometimes, chronic pain stems from tension. Releasing it before you go to bed can help you avoid holding tension overnight. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, a warm bath, or yoga can help you loosen up before bed and get more relaxed to help with muscular tension.
Chronic pain can complicate sleep, but managing both pain and sleep can help you get the rest you need. Use treatment and sleep management strategies to improve your sleep quality.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.