7 Sleeping Tips for Patients with Chronic Pain

Patients dealing with back and neck pain will often have trouble sleeping.

Consider these points:

  • Various studies detail how chronic pain can make it difficult to sleep and how sleeping problems can exacerbate one's symptoms.

  • A past Spine-health poll of nearly 1600 people found that 63.7 percent of people get less than or equal to 6 hours of sleep while only 29.9 percent of responders get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.

We've compiled some sleep tricks that seem to help many of our forum members:

1. Only go to bed when you are tired

Do not allow yourself to toss and turn in bed. This only makes things worse, and usually you'll end up stressing about everything you have to do the next day.

If you are not sleeping within 20 or 30 minutes, get out of bed and engage in something that makes you tired. One person suggested the iPhone app, "Words with Friends."

Once you figure out your optimum bed time, do your best to keep a regular sleep schedule.

2. Cool the room

Simply cracking the window in cold weather or cranking the air conditioner a little more in hot weather is a great way to make the room temperature colder and to have deeper and more restorative sleep.

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3. Drink herbal tea

Make a conscious decision to avoid coffee after dinner and expand this to exclude/limit pop and even other stimulants like alcohol and nicotine.

Chamomile tea is an excellent choice to help you relax.

4. Work up a sweat

While many chronic back pain and neck pain sufferers worry that exercising will only exacerbate their pain, the opposite is actually true: remaining inactive is often worse for pain.

Engaging in regular exercise, stretching, and strengthening programs can promote the body's natural healing process and make you feel better both physically and mentally. And, as a bonus, it will make it easier to fall asleep at night.

5. Write down your worries

Why is it that when your head hits the pillow, all your worries become so intense? Try "forced worrying." Before you go to bed, take 15 minutes or so to write down your worries on a blank sheet of paper.

Remind yourself that you will have plenty of time to address these concerns the following day. If you find yourself in bed worrying about other things, keep a notebook and pen nearby and write these down as well.

6. Visualize something peaceful

With your mind free of worry, gently close your eyes and think of something tranquil and relaxing.

Consider incorporating a sound relaxation machine or even aromatherapy.

7. Check your "equipment"

Ask yourself these questions:

Certain sleeping positions are recommended for different types of pain.

For example, patients with pain from osteoarthritis are advised to sleep in the fetal position (on their sides, with knees curled up), while patients with degenerative disc disease may prefer to sleep on their stomach. Those with hip pain may achieve relief by placing a pillow between the knees.

What helps you get a good night's rest? Find out what our community members think in our Sleep Forums.

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