Chronic back pain doesn’t stop when the sun goes down.
Studies show a majority of those experiencing chronic pain have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Unfortunately, inadequate sleep can make pain worse—so pain and insomnia can set in motion a vicious cycle that makes it harder to find pain relief or a get good night’s rest.
Sleeping With Chronic Pain
The first step in ending this cycle is to speak with your doctor and ensure you have a well-rounded approach to treating the pain.
Even if the physical cause is unknown or is not treatable, there are treatments for the pain, including prescription medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
You don’t have to concentrate on pain treatments alone before working to ease your insomnia—in fact; it’s best if they’re addressed together.
We’ve provided some sleep tricks that seem to help many of our patients:
Only go to bed if you are tired
Don’t allow yourself to toss and turn. This only makes things worse, and you’ll usually end up focusing on the fact that you’re not sleeping.
If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 or 30 minutes, get out of bed and occupy yourself with something that makes you tired.
Once you determine your optimum bedtime, do your best to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Cool the room down
Just opening the window a little in cold weather or turning on the air conditioner in hot weather is an excellent way to make the room temperature colder. A cooler environment can result in a deeper and more restful sleep.
Check your bedroom “equipment.”
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does my mattress provide enough support? Check out these bedding guidelines.
- Does my pillow provide enough support? Is it too firm or too high? Read these suggestions for pillow support and comfort.
- What sleep position is most comfortable? Am I relaxed on my back, side, or am I curled up? How do I feel when I wake up in the morning after having slept in these positions?
Specific sleep positions are suggested for different types of pain.
For example, patients osteoarthritis are advised to sleep in the fetal position, while it may be best for patients with degenerative disc disease to sleep on their stomach.
Those with hip pain may feel relief by placing a pillow between the knees.
Drink herbal tea
Avoid caffeinated beverages after dinner and minimize or exclude other stimulants like nicotine and alcohol.
Chamomile tea is an excellent choice to help you unwind.
While many people with chronic neck and back pain worry that exercising will only aggravate their pain, the opposite is true: Being active often decreases pain.
Engaging in regular exercise and stretching can promote the body’s natural healing process and make you feel better both physically and mentally.
And, as a bonus, the effort will make it easier to fall asleep at night.