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Getting to sleep and staying there is one the most difficult struggles that comes from living with chronic pain. For me, I deal with pain by distracting myself, but I get in trouble come nighttime when there are no more distractions. At night when I’m lying in bed it’s quiet and I’m not doing anything so all I can focus on is how much my body hurts. The pain prevents me from sleeping, and then the lack of sleeping leads to more pain resulting in the Painsomnia cycle. So here’s a few of my favorite tricks for getting a good night’s sleep (as much as that’s even possible):
- Try a body pillow
They aren’t just for pregnant woman. Body pillows are helpful because they are designed to contour to your body and they offer back support.
2.Use a heating pad
Depending on which part of you is hurting, sleeping with a heating pad can help. Heat works by helping your muscles to relax which can help with pain and stiffness. If you are a Fibromyalgia sufferer heat is also known to have an effect on trigger points.
I am completely dependent on my heating pad for sleep. The few times I’ve had to go without it (Europe does not like American products, even with a converter) have not been fun for me. I go through a heating pad about every 3-4 months.
3. Epsom salts bath
If heat works for you, try taking a warm bath with epsom salts before you go to sleep. This is something I have to do almost every night to reduce the tension in my muscles from being in pain all day. It doesn’t work miracles, but it help.
4. Try a relaxing yoga routine
Youtube has some great yoga videos that aren’t too strenuous and can get you into a more relaxed state. If yoga doesn’t work for you try some guided meditation designed to help people sleep. It won’t lower your pain levels, but it can help you to focus on something else besides pain.
5. Use good sleep hygiene– meaning keep up healthy sleeping habits.
- If you’re not sleeping at night avoid naps during the day
- Don’t look at screens for at least 30 minutes before bed
- Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day
- Have a sleep ritual and stick to it
- Avoid caffeine after 2:00 pm, it often makes it harder to get to sleep later
- Use your bed only for sleeping. Don’t use it to watch tv, read a book, or use your phone
6. Create a better sleep environment
- Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature. I personally cannot sleep when it’s hot, so although I keep the temperature in my house high during the day, at night I have to turn it way down or I will not sleep.
- Make sure your room is quiet. I sleep with a fan to provide some white noise. Some people like white noise machines, or apps that play relaxing sounds.
- If you are sensitive to light consider using an eye mask. You can even get one that can be cooled in the refrigerator, or warmed in the microwave.
While there is no magical answer to finding sleep when you have chronic pain, hopefully implementing a few of these tips will help you to get a better night’s sleep.