Tips to prevent pain from hurting your sleep
Chronic pain can keep you from falling asleep or getting a rejuvenating night's rest. When pain hinders your sleep, it's miserable. Lack of sleep may even lead to additional pain since you're body won't have the full 7-9 hours to recover overnight. And, lack of sleep can hinder your physical and mental wellbeing. So, what can you do to stop this vicious cycle?
First things first, if you're dealing with chronic pain, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. Find out if there is an underlying cause for the pain. See if there is anything they can do to help you either treat or at least manage your pain going forward.
Try to determine if there are any root causes of the pain you're experiencing. Take notice if certain things help or hinder the pain you're in. For example, if you find that a heating pad helps calm down muscle pain, then maybe use a heating pad for about 20 minutes before you head to bed. It can help calm those muscles before you lie down.
You may also find that certain activities cause you more pain. Maybe you work at a desk, and sitting all day results in lower back pain or general discomfort. If so, consider getting a standing desk, taking more breaks from your desk, or upgrading your workstation and chair to more ergonomic solutions. The less pain you're in by the end of the night, the easier it is to fall asleep. So it's important to take notice of what helps or hinders you.
Make sure that you're mattress and pillow aren't causing or exacerbating the pain you're in. A mattress that doesn't provide the support you need could add to your pain. It can also make it hard for you to get and stay comfortable once in bed. The same goes for your pillow. The wrong pillow may end up giving you neck pain. You might also want to consider additional support measures when you're sleeping, like a knee pillow or lower back pillow.
Try to be more active during the day (but not too close to bedtime). Living a sedentary lifestyle actually increases the risk of pain. Find some low-impact exercises you can commit to on a regular basis. Be mindful about how often you get physical activity.
Take time before bed to try and relax. You could try to do some yoga, breathing exercises, or stretches. These techniques may assist in relaxing tight (or painful) muscles.
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- Jeremiah Stettler