“People in pain don’t sleep, and people who sleep have less pain,”
- Michael Breus, PhD, clinical director of the sleep division, Arrowhead Health
Two thirds of chronic pain patients also suffer from disturbed sleep, and there is a vicious cycle between sleep disturbance and chronic pain, with one aggravating the other. Some diagnosis, like fibromyalgia, also have disturbed sleep as one of the main symptoms. The most widespread sleep disturbance among pain patients is not staying in deep sleep for long enough at a time, which means you may be able to fall asleep but you keep half waking up in the middle of the night and in the morning you are even more tired than you were when you went to bed.
Many pain patients find out that if they manage to solve the sleep problem, they are able to dramatically lower their daily pain level, so whatever you can do here is going to be a great help. Talk to your doctor and get professional advice if necessary, remember that sleep medication is only going to help for a short while, and if you have a chronic condition you need to find long term solutions.
That means that living with a condition that causes chronic pain is a good reason to take preemptive measures to secure as much deep sleep as you possibly can. Some of the steps you can take include:
1. Make your bedroom a safe and serene environment for resting
2. Keep the TV out of the bedroom
3. Exchange coffee with herbal tea after 3 PM
4. Eat a light meal at night
5. Get some exercise and fresh air every day
6. Get up at the same time every morning
7. Have a good mattress that relieves your pain-areas
8. Maintain a good temperature in the bedroom
9. Build good routines around bedtime
10. Relax in the evening before going to bed, without computers or TV
For more (quite similar) helpful hints check out the National Sleep Foundation's sleep guide.
Other related 365 pain-free days blog posts include these two about Tempurpedic and feng shui,
and personally I've found that taking a hot bath at night and relaxing with some herbal tea, candles and a book before going to bed really helps. If my pain is too high for me to fall asleep I lay on my yantra mat for a while first which releases a bunch of naturally relaxing dopamine.