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