Sleep

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.

Do’s:

  • 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

Don’ts:

  • 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