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Lesser-known tips for sleeping with chronic pain
Sleep disturbance or insomnia is pretty commonplace when you experience chronic pain. Both these conditions are often influenced by each other— while your pain can disrupt a restful night of sleep, lack of adequate sleep can exacerbate your pain symptoms. Sleep disturbance from chronic pain may occur in many ways; you can frequently awaken at night, find it difficult to fall asleep, wake up very early in the morning, or/and feel unrefreshed or tired after your night’s sleep.
People with chronic pain usually experience less deep sleep. They also wake up more frequently during the night and experience less efficient sleep. It is found that people who experience pain are eighteen times more likely to have clinically diagnosed insomnia. Pain affects sleep quantity as well as quality.
If you have any of the signs of insomnia, read these five lesser-known tips that can help you gain a healthy sleep routine:
Consume foods that can help promote sleep
Consuming certain foods in your evening meal can help increase the level of tryptophan in the body. Tryptophan is a particular protein necessary for the production of the sleep-regulating hormone called serotonin. Increased tryptophan levels help promote more restful sleep, reduce the time to fall asleep, and improve alertness in the morning. Examples of such sleep-promoting foods are:
- Fruits, such as cherries and kiwis
- Carbohydrates having a high glycemic index, such as rice
- Whole foods, such as pulses, fatty fish, milk, and shellfish
When you plan to adopt dietary changes, consult with the doctor to ensure that the new food or supplement you try doesn’t adversely affect any existing medical condition or medication you might be taking. Also, consider abstaining from drinks and foods that can adversely affect your sleep, such as tea, coffee, and chocolates. These foods contain bromine and caffeine that may disrupt your sleep cycle.
Practice yoga daily
Yoga is a mind-body therapy. Through rhythmic breathing, physical poses, and meditation, yoga can help relieve chronic back pain and improve sleep. It would be best to learn yoga from a licensed instructor, who will tailor the poses depending on your tolerance level and the underlying reason behind your back pain. Once you have learned the specific yogic postures, you should practice them at home according to your convenience. If you experience discomfort or pain while doing a pose, inform your yoga instructor.
Take a short evening walk
If you work for long hours at your office, get minimal exercise, have chronic lower back pain, and find it hard to fall asleep at night, an evening walk can help relieve your pain and promote better sleep. When you walk or exercise, your core body temperature rises. This temperature then starts to drop due to the heat dissipation mechanisms of your body (like increased blood flow to the skin). The resulting lower body temperature then triggers your sleep cycle.
Walking can also reduce anxiety, promoting better sleep. Including an evening walk in your daily schedule will also be beneficial in reducing chronic lower back pain by strengthening your back and abdominal muscles and increasing flexibility in your lower back.
Take slow and deep breaths to get to sleep and fall back asleep
Slow and rhythmic breathing has calming mind-body effects and can help alleviate pain and stress, promoting sleep. Research suggests that taking slow and deep breaths before bedtime can help you get to sleep faster and fall back asleep if you wake up during the night. This type of breathing technique can also help synchronize your heart rate and breathing pattern, which may help promote deeper and restorative sleep.
Consider taking a sleep aid
Several sleep-enhancing preparations are available OTC to help promote healthy sleep. While some sleep aids are available as tea bags for brewing, others may be taken orally in the form of capsules or tablets. Following are a few common examples:
- Herbal preparations: Chamomile tea and valerian capsule
- Fruit extracts: Capsules of tart cherry extract or cherry juice
- Micronutrient supplements: Zinc or/and magnesium
- Synthetic preparations: Melatonin tablets or capsules
These supplements can help improve sleep duration, onset, and quality in some individuals. When you are sleep-deprived because of your chronic pain, it can be worth trying one or more of these lesser-known options to help you get more sleep. A process of trial and error enables you to understand which option works best. If you can not sleep well despite trying these tips, consult a doctor for prescription medications or other medical treatments.
The takeaway from the blog
One of the most important predictors of the intensity of pain is the number of hours slept the night before. Therefore, if you sleep poorly, your pain will worsen the next day. Medication management must include sleep as well as pain. As sleep improves, the necessity for pain medications will be reduced. If you experience chronic pain, try the above-mentioned techniques to improve your sleep quality. compare rx prices Here