Posted on April 16 2020
Your back is throbbing and has been for weeks.
You can barely move from your bed,
but you are not getting any sleep because of the intense pain.
This is a something we can all relate to. Pain affects our ability to sleep, and the lack of sleep makes the pain seem worse.
Bottom line: if you sleep poorly, your pain will be worse the next day.
So.. how can we end this viscous cycle?
How can we sleep well with chronic pain?
We will be going through 2 things, what you must avoid, and what you can do to improve your sleep!
THINGS TO DO
1. Consider taking a sleep aid
Sleep aids can come in the form of consumables or devices . Here are a few common examples:
2. Take slow, deep breaths to get to sleep and fall back asleep
Slow, rhythmic breathing has calming mind-body effects and may help alleviate pain and stress, promoting sleep. Research indicates that taking slow and deep breaths before bedtime can help you get to sleep faster and fall back asleep in case you wake up during the night.
This type of breathing technique also helps synchronize your heart rate and breathing pattern, which may help promote deeper, restorative sleep.
3. Practice yoga daily
Yoga is a mind-body therapy and through the physical poses, rhythmic breathing, and meditation, yoga may help relieve chronic back pain and improve sleep.
It is advised to learn yoga from a licensed instructor, who can tailor the poses according to your tolerance level and the underlying cause of your pain. Once you learn the specific yogic poses, you can practice them at home according to your convenience. If you experience pain or discomfort while doing a pose, make sure to inform your yoga instructor.
Get up at the same time each morning regardless of the sleep you had the night before. Go to bed roughly around the same time each night Spend half an hour (a very active person may need longer than this) before bed, doing the same things in the same order each night, e.g. get things ready for the next day, have a shower, brush teeth, get into pyjamas then read a book. This helps the body learn to expect sleep and prepare for it. It is important that the last thing that you do in the routine is quiet and relaxing. This is a wind down time.
5. Make the association between “bed” and “sleep” really strong
Your body learns to make associations all the time. We notice that our mouths salivate when we smell our favourite food cooking. We have learnt that soon after smelling food, we will get to eat it. We want to build up the association between bed and sleep, NOT bed and other activities, or bed and stressing about not sleeping, or bed and pain. Only use the bed for sleeping (and sex) e. no reading books, watching tv, resting (Find somewhere other than the bedroom to rest during the day) That also means no tossing and turning in bed feeling frustrated about being awake. If it has been more than 20 mins (roughly) and you have not fallen asleep, get out of bed and do a quiet (non-stimulating) activity, until you feel sleepy and try again.
6. Avoid napping
Having a nap during the day will impact the quality of sleep during the next night, making it lighter and more easily disrupted. This increases the desire for a nap the next day, creating a vicious cycle. Only have a nap during the day as a one off, for a special reason (not routinely). If you have to nap, take a short nap in the morning when you will have a lighter sleep and it will have less of an impact on the next night’s sleep
7. Sleep Hygiene
It may sound simplistic, but one thing I’ve found to be incredibly helpful for establishing a regular sleep schedule is creating good sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene.
- Keep daytime naps to 30 minutes.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to bedtime.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Think: a hot bath or a nightly reading ritual.
- Avoid screens — including your smartphone —30 minutes before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom a sleeping-only zone. That means no laptops, TV, or eating.