Chronic Pain and Sleep


Chronic Pain and Sleep

Sleeping Better With Chronic Pain

For a person with chronic pain, getting to sleep can be a nightmare in itself.  It becomes a dreadful cycle of insomnia and pain. Sleep deprivation causes the chronic pain sufferer to experience more pain sensations during the day.  Ultimately, severe pain keeps them awake the following night and starts the pattern all over again.

Back pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, headaches, arthritis, and fibromyalgia all contribute to sleeplessness in individuals with chronic pain.

Everyone needs sleep so that the body can heal itself.  There are many health benefits to a good night’s sleep including staving off pain.  The rested body has a bolstered immune system, a stable mood, and a reduction of stress.  This helps in reducing the intensity and duration of pain.  It is vital for a person with chronic pain to achieve a good night’s sleep so that pain can be better controlled.

Here are some helpful tips on making it easier to sleep:

  • Sleep Position
    You need to find the sleep position that does not exacerbate any pain issues you have.  Sleeping on your stomach can cause your back to arch and causes the neck to be twisted in an abnormal position.  If you have back or neck pain, you should avoid this position.  If you have acid reflux, you may need to sleep with the head of the bed elevated or have your physician prescribed medication for it.
  • Pillow Change
    If you are looking to change to a new sleep position that will help alleviate your pain, body pillows can help reinforce it.  They can prevent you from tossing and turning in your sleep.If you have back pain, it is best to lie on your back and place a pillow under your knees to straighten and align your back, taking pressure off the spine.For hip issues, lying with a pillow between the knees helps to keep the hips aligned.  For neck pain, an orthopedic pillow can offer extra support.
  • Turn Away from the Pain
    You should practice this exercise to help you remove your focus from the pain.  It is something that takes practice and can offer you relief from pain just enough to allow you to fall asleep.
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    • Get into a comfortable position in bed.
    • Focus on breathing; pay attention on feeling your lungs fill with air and releasing the air from pursed lips.  You should do this for a few moments.
    • Put yourself in a state in which all worries and cares are pushed away.
    • Meet any negative thought, such as with acknowledgement but turn your attention back to your breathing.

The brain and body are connected; stress, anxiety, and depression can interfere with how we perceive pain.  If you can become skilled at de-stressing the body with the techniques mentioned in this article, you will achieve a good night’s sleep.

Resources:

Pain and Sleep

7 Ways to Sleep Better with Chronic Pain

Yvonne BanksYvonne Banks

Yvonne is a licensed practical nurse who has a passion for helping people to improve their health conditions. Practicing since 2001, she has worked with both geriatric and pediatric patients during the course of her career.

Aug 19, 2014
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