There are roughly 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain. It can severely impact daily activities by making the simplest of chores seem like the most difficult challenges.
And while there is often a focus on what people can do to relieve pain during the day, it’s often forgotten just how much chronic pain can affect sleep.
It’s estimated that between 50 and 70 million American adults suffer from some type of sleep disorder. For the most part, Americans don’t get a lot of sleep and many are in chronic pain. This is not a good combination. Chronic pain can make getting a good night’s sleep very difficult, and according to the National Sleep Association, such conditions disrupt the sleep of one in five Americans.
The pain can come from headaches, arthritis, a bad back, or a number of other problems that can take away your ability to get a good night’s sleep, ultimately making you increasingly fatigued throughout the day and more sensitive to pain. It can cause a vicious, debilitating cycle of less sleep and more pain.
But you do have the power to break the cycle. Here are some ways to increase your chances of getting a full night’s sleep when your body is trying to take it away.
Try to take your mind off the pain through meditation. Remember the old saying “mind over matter?” If you can’t fall asleep or wake up during the night because the pain is kicking in, try meditation. Breathe in deeply and focus on the process to clear your mind. Once you’ve internalized your thoughts, are completely involved in the breathing, and become relaxed, think of a comfortable and calm place. This can clear your head and provide the relaxation you need for rest.
Re-establishing your circadian rhythm is very important for improved sleep, regardless of whether or not you’re suffering from pain. Set a schedule so you wake up at the same time every morning and go to bed at a consistent time every night. Even if you can’t fall asleep at first or wake up during the night, wake up when your alarm goes off. Once your body acknowledges the pattern, it should adapt.
Chronic pain can flare up in the middle of the night if you simply change positions during sleep. If this causes you to wake up, avoid turning on the television set or looking at your tablet to pass the time. The bright lights will stimulate your brain and make it even more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, go to a room with soft lighting and do some reading in a quiet setting.
If you consume a lot of caffeine, try to cut back. Caffeine can have an impact on some people’s sleep if they consume it up to six hours before bed, so if you have a sensitivity, try to cut back. Avoid the late afternoon coffee or soda, giving your body a better opportunity to shut down and sleep in the evening.
Lastly, if you smoke, try to limit how much. Nicotine is a stimulant that can affect sleep patterns, so try and avoid smoking in the evenings. Anything you can do to eliminate sleep-stifling stimulation is important to getting a good night of shut-eye and establishing consistent sleep patterns.
Don’t let pain keep you awake. Take control of your nights by trying these useful sleep-inducing methods.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, January 13, 2014; http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/, last accessed April 14, 2014.
Boyles, S., “100 Million Americans Have Chronic Pain,” WebMD web site, June 29, 2011; http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20110629/100-million-americans-have-chronic-pain, last accessed April 14, 2014.
“How to Sleep Well Despite Chronic Pain,” Harvard Health Publications web site, April 10, 2014; http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-to-sleep-well-despite-chronic-pain, last accessed April 14, 2014.