How to Sleep Better with Chronic Pain

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by Laura

Sleep is one of, if not the most overlooked aspects to having more good days as a chronic pain and illness warrior. I know with myself, interrupted sleep patterns was one of the diagnostic red flags my doctor used to confirm my diagnoses of fibromyalgia.
If you are not getting good, restorative sleep, for a minimum of 8 hours per night, a whole cascade of issues affect your body. The most damaging issue is lowered immune response and ability to fight free radicals, which can lead to other disease. If you have had Lupus, Fibro, CFS just to name a few, for more then 10 years, you might have experienced your body being taken down by something else if you are not getting proper uninterrupted sleep.
Why is uninterrupted sleep so key?
During the night when you think you are simply resting, your organs are hard at work doing their jobs, restoring key systems in your body. Important healing and restorative hormones are released, and cell regeneration is at its peak. The most important hours to be deeply and comfortably asleep are between 10pm and 2am, as that is prime time for your body to get into a significant resting state. After that, you are not resting or sleeping nearly as restoratively.
So now that you know what you “should” be doing… Ha ha
If you’re struggling with chronic pain, chances are that getting a good nights rest that is uninterrupted, is nearly impossible.

Here are some things I learned through much trial and error over the past 25 years…

Exercise of any kind, light walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates or simply keeping track of steps in a day will help you sleep better. Studies show that people who exercise sleep better. Do what you can of course if you’re in pain and challenge yourself to get stronger.

Eat a healthy diet. Fat, sugar and unhealthy food will definitely keep your body working overtime, which prevents good sleep. How? Things like acid reflux, constipation, gas, bloating, and headaches all contribute to a bad night!

Keeping my room cool helps a lot. Getting hot wakes me up
Make your bed as cozy and comfortable to relieve pain as you can.

Pillows, pillows, and more pillows. Sleep with one between your knees if you’re a side sleeper, under your knees or arms or wherever you hurt.

A deluxe pillow that you adore laying your head on is essential. I love the Bamboo and Sobakawa pillows. Memory foam are great because they are soft, yet offer plenty of support.

A body pillow is also one of the greatest gifts I ever have myself. There are tons of body pillows available online, in different shapes, and it’s up to you what feels delicious and soothing.

I have soothing sounds app on my phone to calm me if I can’t get to sleep.

Melatonin worked well for me when I was younger. Melatonin is a supplement you can buy in any store that carries vitamins. Melatonin is not a vitamin, but is rather a 100% native to your body hormone that is made as you’re going to sleep. Valerian root is also very good.

Chamomile tea relaxes and soothes anytime.

Amitryptiline works very well for sleep, as well as pain. It’s not addictive, and you don’t feel groggy in the morning.

For that reason, grogginess, as well as dependence, sleeping medication just never seems like a good option for interrupted sleep. If you keep waking up during the night with pain, those drugs don’t work very well, if only temporary.

Avoid caffeine, drinks late at night and anything that will keep you up.

If you take pain meds, whether RX or OTC, take your evening dose close to bedtime, and go to bed.

Hot baths or showers help relax painful muscles.

When I changed doctors 12 years ago, the first question she asked me was “How much uninterrupted sleep do you get at night” my answer was scary, so she worked with me to make good restorative sleep my #1 priority, over diet, exercise etc. She said none of that concerns me if you are severely sleep deprived.As soon as I started taking sleep seriously, my body responded in gradual ways. My pain was reduced, and energy levels came up significa

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