Sleep is essential to the body’s healing process, but chronic pain can make this vital period of rest elusive. Whether it is falling asleep or waking during the night, discomfort can rob chronic pain sufferers of this resource to regaining good health. Further, the longer a person struggles with sleep, the harder it is to reestablish the mental and physical ease and calm restful sleep requires. Sleep issues among chronic pain sufferers can stem from the physical discomfort itself, or the anxiety about feeling pain during the night. In either case, establishing an environment and routine which promotes physical and mental relaxation is key to fixing dysfunctional sleep patterns. Here are some techniques you can start implementing tonight to get the rest your body needs to revitalize:
- Step away from your devices. Studies have shown that late night computer and cell phone use can interrupt the release of hormones essential to activating the sleep cycle. Eliminating the use of technology for at least an hour before bed, though two is better, will allow the body to wind down for sleep.
- Establish a consistent bedtime. Consistency is another key to good sleep. When a person has a routine bedtime, the body and mind will start to anticipate shutting down, and accordingly, release the chemicals needed to achieve good sleep more readily.
- Find distractions. Once poor sleep patterns emerge, it is hard not to focus on the inability to fall or stay asleep. However, this does not allow the brain to relax. A more beneficial approach is to find a distraction that promotes relaxation. This can include breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to a bedtime story. Experiment with different techniques and consider working with a doctor or sleep coach for more individualized plans.
Sleep is essential to good health and the relief of pain. Try one or all of the techniques suggested above to find one that works for you. Fixing dysfunctional sleep takes time, but the benefits are well worth the effort!