Sleep disturbances are one of the most common and debilitating side effects sufferers of chronic pain must deal with, and not getting enough sleep can create a detrimental effect on waking life. Establishing a healthy environment to sleep in, creating personal sleep strategies, and partnering with health care providers could be your key to a better night’s sleep.
Prepare Yourself and Your Environment
Whether you realize it or not, your body has a natural sleep schedule, and chronic pain disturbs and disrupts it. To fight this, you must develop a strategy to regain control over your body’s schedule. To begin, set both a regular time to fall asleep and a regular time to wake. Choose a bedtime that is near a time you are normally drowsy, and at least a half an hour after any television viewing or computer work. If you must nap, limit yourself to only thirty minutes in the early afternoon-any later can be detrimental. Fight any feelings of post-dinner drowsiness with a quick, five-minute walk, or some other mildly stimulating activity. Dozing off on the couch with the evening news should be avoided at all costs!
In today’s hectic information age, most bedrooms double as entertainment centers and home offices. The light produced by televisions, laptops, and other backlit devices suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep in the body. While most people hope these devices will somehow help them relax and fall asleep, the effort is counterproductive. Ideally, the room you sleep in should be as dark and as quiet as possible. Choose dim, low-wattage lighting for any bedroom fixtures, use a sleep mask, and shut off any appliances or equipment that can create background noise.
Partner With Healthcare Providers
Many patients struggling with pain-related insomnia fail to mention any sleep disturbances to their healthcare providers. Some patients assume that the issue will resolve itself, and others feel as if somehow insomnia was a strictly mental problem, and nothing could be further from the truth. While over the counter sleep aids may seem to offer quick answers, their results are temporary. There are also many prescription drugs available to treat disturbed sleep as well, but the goal of all medication should be to help develop and maintain an appropriate sleep cycle.
All choices regarding sleep aids should be carefully reviewed by all of a patient’s healthcare providers to ensure no adverse drug interactions. There is no single pill to cure sleep problems, and the most effective treatments appear to be making simple lifestyle choices, and having the source of chronic pain treated and managed by specialists.
At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, we focus on relieving pain and treating the sleep disorders associated with chronic pain. If you’d like more information on a personalized treatment plan to address your needs, call 770-421-1420 or visit one of our three locations today. For more information about improving your quality of life while living with chronic pain, check out our blog.