As anyone living with chronic knows sometimes it is very difficult to get a restful night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 66 percent of chronic pain sufferers experience sleep problems. Only 15 percent of all people have sleep problems. Compounding the problem of disturbed sleep in people who live with pain is the fact that some chronic pain medications tend to disrupt sleeping patterns.
So what do you do when you live with chronic pain and need to sleep? Do you give in and use potentially dangerous sleep medications or just suffer? Most authorities recommend practicing good sleep hygiene, along with becoming very familiar with their sleep deprivation problem (i.e. understanding the cause). If sleep problems persist after implementing sleep hygiene practices, it may then be the time to seek medical help. But what is sleep hygiene? Below I’m putting the titles of the checklist I found on www.about.com a website devoted to educating people about back and neck pain. If you want to see the entire checklist please go to that website and type in “Sleep Hygiene.”
1. Relax Before Bedtime
2. Watch Your Sleep Timing
3. Avoid Caffeine and other Stimulants
4. Don’t Smoke - in bed or at all
6. Don’t Exercise!
7. Use Your Bed Wisely
8. Don’t Toss and Turn
9. Don’t Nap
10. Check Out About’s Sleep Disorders Site
I’ve been helping people with this problem for a long time and have actually used most of interventions listed above. One of the tools I also recommend for many of my patients is to use headphones with relaxation techniques, soothing sounds or music to help them to sleep.
I also teach people relaxation response techniques that take about 7-10 minutes and one of the side effects is to reduce their sensations of pain. Then we discuss the importance of their identifying and learning to better manage what I call their anticipatory pain. On our website www.addiction-free.com I have an article Coping With Anticipatory Pain that you may find interesting.