Sleep problems are commonly linked to complex pain.

With chronic tiredness you can get irritable and it can be a factor in your pain cycle.

New evidence suggests sleep is essential to:

  • Maintain mood
  • Consolidate memory
  • Maximise cognitive performance – without sleep, people show impaired reaction times, and decision making is compromised


Tips On How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Some of these tips work for some people.  They are not set in stone however, so try them out and figure out which ones work for you.


  • Timetable your pain medication appropriately
  • Stay in bed only when asleep; if you’re not sleeping restrict your time in bed
  • If you find you can’t drop off within 15 – 30 mins, get up and go to another room and read or perform routine tasks until feeling sleepy, then return to bed
  • Only use the bed for sleep (or physical intimacy) – train your body to associate bed with sleeping
  • Some people find that practising relaxation techniques before bed can help
  • Focus on the achievements of the day, however small, rather than attending to worrying thoughts
  • Have a notepad by the bed and write things down in order to “clear your head”
  • Go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get up at roughly the same time each morning –the body “gets used” to falling asleep at a certain time
  • A little warm milk and foods high in tryptophan, such as bananas, may help you to sleep
  • Establish a pre-sleep ritual. Pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can help you sleep.
  • Ask your doctor / pharmacist if medications you are taking can lead to sleeplessness
  • Consider turning off the mobile phone to prevent calls and texts interrupting your rest


  • Avoid stimulants 4-6 hours before bedtime– these come in many forms eg caffeine (in coffee/tea/chocolate), smoking, alcohol, painkilling/cold remedies which contain stimulants
  • Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime -these can affect your ability to stay asleep
  • Avoid drinking a lot of any liquid a few hours before sleep
  • Don’t nap during the day (although one nap limited to 30-45 mins can help some people).  If you find yourself beginning to doze during the day, get up and go out for a walk or do something absorbing.
  • Don’t exercise strenuously within 2 hours of bedtime
  • Importantly, try to accept the sleeplessness without getting upset at yourself or your situation.  If you have already had up to 5 hours sleep try getting up and getting on with your day.  It might be that you have had enough sleep.
  • Do not perform challenging or engaging activity such as office work, housework etc. within 2 hours of bedtime