Chronic Pain and Lack of Sleep
Chronic conditions, especially those of pain, can make it difficult for people to relax, reduce stress and develop and maintain a regular sleep schedule. When your body is in pain, your mind becomes stressed which can wreak havoc on your entire system. One of the most common complaints of those with chronic conditions is the lack of sleep they are able to get.
As your mind and body become used to regularly being unable to sleep and becoming stressed out – it can become quite difficult to break the cycle that has unintentionally been created. This can cause many sleepless nights, additional stress, and in some cases additional pain, illness or symptom aggravation. Some helpful methods to try to break such a cycle include:
(1) Participate in a relaxing activity prior to getting in bed
Sometimes, when we aren’t ready to sleep we go to bed anyway! This can create a stressful situation as you lay awake thinking about the fact that you are unable to sleep. Trying a relaxing activity that helps make you sleepy ahead of time would include: reading a book, taking a warm bath, meditation, breathing exercises, listening to music, etc.
Developing an activity and doing it on a regular basis prior to getting in your bed can help remind the body that it is time to unwind and become relaxed for sleep. Also, ensuring your bed is only a place for sleep i.e. only getting in it when you are tired, can help reinforce this concept for your body.
(2) Avoid high-energy activities 4 hours prior
Many of us prefer to engage in exercise after work/later in the day due to our busy schedules, but exercising close to bedtime can create an energizing effect on your mind and body causing you to stay up longer. Trying to perform your exercise activities in the morning or first part of the day can help to avoid this and can help your body increase in relaxation by the time the night comes around.
(3) Create a regular schedule
Setting a predetermined time to go to bed each night can help the body and mind with habit-forming actions, so that your body learns to become tired around the same time each night. Picking this time prior and beginning to implement your routine at the same time each night can help ease into this process.
(4) Keep your space comfortable & relaxing
The space you sleep/unwind in should be comfortable and living. Nothing that could potentially stress you out should be within the space, and the environment should make you feel relaxed/calmed when in it.
(5) Avoid Bright Screens & Technology
Screen time can create more problems of insomnia on a regular basis, and the brightness and coloring of screens can make it difficult for our eyes and minds to relax when viewing. Avoiding your phone and other technology 2 hours prior to bed can help give the mind and eyes a break from straining and allow you to become more relaxed for rest.
If you’re someone who struggles with chronic conditions and insomnia – incorporating a few of these tips into your nightly routine may help aid in your body’s natural response to stress and relaxation. If your condition is continually causing you pain and lack of sleep – making an appointment to have your condition and current treatment plan evaluated may be a good idea. Treatment options available can include various procedures, medications, medical marijuana, physical therapy and more.