Psychological Techniques, Sleep Environment, and Better Sleep

Two additional sleep aids include utilizing psychological approaches to reduce pain and fall asleep and setting up a sleep-conducive environment.

Using Psychological Approaches to Minimize Pain at Bedtime

"Mind over matter” can help patients override or re-balance pain signals with more pleasant, sleep-inducing thoughts. A few techniques that have proven successful are:

  • Hypnosis, which can help a patient associate certain actions with sleep (such as turning off lights or closing doors and drapes)
  • Visualization of something peaceful or relaxing, like clouds in a night sky, can be a good transition from the work day to more restful nighttime
  • Meditation or other relaxation practices that incorporate deep breathing and aim to free or compartmentalize feelings of stress and in the body
  • If worrying is a major deterrent to sleep, try “forced worrying”. Several hours before bedtime create a brief period of time (15 minutes or so) to write down worries. Then leave the room where you wrote down the worries, and if worrying recurs, remind yourself that you will have time to think about these worries tomorrow.
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Creating an Environment Conducive to Sleep

A comfortable bed and inviting bedroom can also be effective sleep aids, and can make a difference in the quality of sleep experienced. The following can make for a restful environment:

  • Body or neck pillows to provide support; pillows under the knee, or between the knees if a patient sleeps on his side, can relieve stress on painful areas
  • A high quality mattress that is both comfortable and provides adequate support
  • Appropriate levels of light and sound. Light can be minimized using black-out curtains, and noise diminished by a solid wood door between rooms. Alternatively, gentle music can provide a soothing background to drift off.