Here’s my top 10 definitive sleep tips for chronic pain. You know you are sleep deprived when you see other people sleeping and wish that you could sleep like that, too. You are sleep deprived when you get a new medication and it says, ‘may make you drowsy’ – and you pray that it does. (And it doesn’t). You are sleep deprived when your brain fog is so bad you forget your married name/your birthday/ fill in the blank here ->
I am not going to bore you with how important sleep is. Whether you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, MS, Lupus, CFS/ME and all the other conditions and diseases that have chronic pain -bottom line is, whatever condition you have, chronic pain and insomnia tend to go hand in hand.
Bottom line is, without getting a good sleep each and every night, we ultimately wind up in more pain (as the body can’t heal itself well). That it increases depression, brain fog and ability to cope. We end up making silly mistakes – not to mention some serious accidents. Getting your sleep under control when in chronic pain is a PRIORITY!
Some rules just don’t apply…
…When you are in chronic pain.
For me and I am sure many of you, the rule ‘keep the bedroom for sleep only’ doesn’t apply – when your bed is the only place that is truly comfortable for you – so it becomes your base for everything. (Please note, I am not suggesting that you don’t have a ‘life’ with chronic pain and that you need to stay in bed! I am saying that sometimes, that is the only spot you can be!).
My Top 10 Sleep Tips:
Here are my personal 10 great ways that have helped me to fall asleep and will hopefully help you, too. Please feel free to comment on what has helped you, so we can all get better ideas of what works.
1. Switch off. Set a time each night to turn your mobile phone, laptop and tablet off. Using an e-book offline is ok to read from, just keep it OFFLINE. Not only is it easy to get caught up in Facebook, spending hours on Pinterest and chatting with friends online, it keeps us awake. On top of which, you are constantly being plied with radio waves. Remember the noise your radio makes when sending or receiving a text message (SMS)? Guess what? That’s going on all the time when your stuff is switched on – you just don’t hear it.
Here is a very interesting video by Dr Gonazalez that’s eye opening in regards to radiowave frequencies called EMF (electromagnetic frequencies – aka WIFI, and other goodies that we’re heavily exposed to.
2. A Hot Soak in the Tub
Have a relaxing hot soak in a bath (if possible) for at least 15-20 minutes. Using EpsomSalts (which is magnesium btw), can really reduce your aches and pains as can moist heat. Add some Sweet Dreams herbal bath soak to really relax you before heading to bed. I know not everyone is able to have a hot bath – if you are able to have a shower, try getting a shower stool to make it more comfortable and allow you a longer period of time in there. Moist heat is one of the best things for chronic pain suffers and according to Dr Harris McIlwain, it is the top treatment for fibromyalgia according to one of the best books going on fibro (IMHO). Check out the review for his book here.
3. Spiced Turmeric Milk
Turmeric has tons of amazing properties – including anti-inflammatory ones. Spiced turmeric milk, made with cinnamon and other warming spices has tryptophan in it as well (if you are using cow’s milk – non-dairy nut milk or even coconut milk also works well). Here’s a lovely warm spiced turmeric milk recipe. It helps with sleep – and pain! Awesome!
4. Turn off the light!
Keep your room dark, allowing your mind to adjust to the fact that it’s ‘lights out!’ and that means sleepy time!
5. Keep a Cool Room and a Cool Head
In fact, if you can handle it, use an ice pack on the back of your neck in a towel to cool you down. In a Times article, the science of cooling your head down for sleep has been proven to help people with insomnia. Check out this article! Many of my friends swear by the Chillow Pillow For me, using my ice packs on my neck always helps me sleep…as well as helps reduce inflammation.
6. Get Your Bed and Bedding Right!
If your bed is uncomfortable, guess what? You aren’t creating the most important spot in the house! Your bed. Check out these Mattress Guidelines to make sure you are getting it right.
Having a comfortable bed and bedding is so important for getting into a comfortable position. Which of course is easier said than done when you are in a lot of pain.
The two items that have helped me the most in regards to getting into a comfortable position (and discovered only recently!) is the S2BMOM pillow. Ok, it’s a maternity pillow – but OMG! It rocks! Check out this review to find out why.
I used to always use feather pillows in regards to being able to contour the pillow under my neck for support. Unfortunately, they were causing both my husband and I breathing problems, and trying to wash them was a nightmare (read feathers, EVERYWHERE!).
My neurological upper cervical chiropractor informed me about buckwheat pillows (which also come in millet and many other grains).
These pillows are HEAVY. BUT they also are great for getting your neck and head supported properly. This is the buckwheat pillow that I use and has had great ratings. It’s organic and it is amazing!
Check out these pillow support suggestions as well, to ensure that you are getting the correct support you need.
For the winter months, hubby and I both love our fleece sheets that my Mom has sent over from Canada. I was delighted to find that they are now available here! 🙂 SNUGGLE ALERT!!!!
7. Different Conditions have Different Positions!
For example, patients with pain from osteoarthritis are advised to sleep in the fetal position (on their sides, with knees curled up), while patients with degenerative disc disease may prefer to sleep on their stomach. Those with hip pain may achieve relief by placing a pillow between the knees or under their knees. The S2BMOM and similar maternity pillows can really make a difference in regards to helping you sleep in a comfortable position, without straining or placing pressure on tender spots. I have swapped around so that the U is under my knees giving me support for my hips. (It really is an awesome pillow – thank you hubby for getting it for me!).
8. Stop Thinking!
I know that one of the biggest issues I have had to tackle in order to get some sleep is shutting my mind down. And it hasn’t been easy! All of the worries, upsets and stresses of the day and what was going on in my life was not letting me relax – in fact it was doing the exact opposite!
The thing that changed this habit the most was instead of thinking of all the negative stuff – thinking about all the things I was grateful for in my life. And it helped. A lot. The Attitude of Gratitude goes a long way…When you are trying to get to sleep, take a few moments to run through all the GOOD things you have got going on in your life…Nothing? Try again!
The fact that you have a bed, and even the internet to read this are 2 things that many people in this world don’t have.
9. Guided Sleep Meditations
Guided sleep meditations that you can download or get a CD can really help put you in the ‘right space’. (Make sure you have turned your device to ‘Flight Mode’ so that you don’t get any interruptions.)
My personal favourite is called Sleep Easily by Shazzie on iTunes and Android (and possibly iOS). It took me several tries to find a meditation where the person’s voice didn’t irritate the heck out of me! And if meditation isn’t your thang, then…There’s tons on YouTube as well – some are on a loop for around 8 hours…but be warned – this will affect the EMF stuff in regards to interrupting sleep potentially, as you have the WIFI basically right beside your/on you.
The scents of lavender and other relaxing essential oils are proven to be effective for sleep. Just a few drops of oil in an aromatherapy diffuser can last up to 10 hours and help you to relax…and sleep. For more information on aromatherapy, check out this blog.
And the Final BONUS tip:
Track your sleep, sleep debt, type of sleep you had, fatigue, pain, depression, brain fog and many other symptoms with our award winning FibroMapp app – which works well for all complex chronic pain conditions. FibroMapp is a HealthLine triple award winning app that is the most comprehensive, personalized tracking app available and making a difference for 1000s of peoples lives.
I certainly have knowledge of not being able to sleep due to chronic pain – and having sleep disturbances as well. And it sucks big time! The above 10 tips will hopefully help you get a more rested sleep. For me, 2 of the biggest issues that were affecting my sleep were Tramadol (Ultram) and codeine. (Drugs that knocked me out to begin with, so I never clued in they were culprits in my insomnia (and many other issues).