When you’re in pain, trying to get to sleep can seem nigh-on impossible, and the knowledge that not getting enough sleep will make the pain even worse the next day, just makes it even trickier to slumber.
So what can be done?
1. Pillow adjustment
Speak to your doctor about the best sleeping position and pillow strategy, depending on your condition. For example, sleeping on your stomach can worsen back pain, but sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees can improve comfort. Contoured pillows and full length body pillows can help too.
Gentle exercise or stretching – within the limits of whatever condition you have that causes your pain – will help tire muscles and relax your body, while the effort expended will make sleep come more easily.
3. Retrain your brain
Scientists have found that people who are convinced their pain will keep them awake all night and prevent them from sleeping, are more likely to suffer with insomnia.
Finding a positive attitude when you are trying to sleep and are in pain can be hard though, so it might be wise to try a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, which can help you retrain your brain, and reinforce a positive, practical mindset.
4. Relaxation techniques
Have a before-bed routine that will help you relax into sleep, and find what works for you. It might be a candlelit bath, half an hour of reading, or relaxing music. Make it a regular fixture and your body will come to learn that these factors mean it should be getting ready to doze off.
5. Watch what you eat and drink
This applies whether you’re in pain or not – avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol before bed. Even though alcohol may ease pain, it’ll keep your body and mind active, making it more difficult to drift off.
6. Only sleep and sex
Remove all distractions from the bedroom and make it a room that is only used for sleep and sex – it’ll make getting in the mood (either way) easier.
7. Technology-free zone
Playing on your phone or watching TV might distract you from the pain, but it’s laying the seeds for a restless night. Help your brain relax by swapping technological distractions for relaxation techniques instead.
8. Focus on your breathing
Still finding it difficult to zone out from the pain? Try focussing on nothing more than your breathing, taking big deep breaths, counting in for four, and out for four. It will centre and calm you, making the pain more bearable in the process, hopefully.
9. Try supplements
Certain vitamins and supplements – including melatonin, vitamin D and iron – can help reset your body’s sleep patterns.
10. No napping
Even if you’re struggling to stay awake during the day, avoid taking a nap, as it will make it much harder to fall asleep when night falls.
11. Pain relief
It’s important you are taking the right dosage when it comes to pain relief and sleeping pills, always check with your doctor, and never self-diagnose.
How do you get to sleep if you’re in pain? Tell us in the comments box below