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Sleep Tips
Sleep Tips

4 Simple Tips For Managing Your Pain While Sleeping

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Pain, no matter the cause, can be a real nuisance when it comes to sleep. At night, our bodies and minds should be in a relaxed state to allow sleep to gently take over. But that can become very difficult when you’re suffering from pain. In fact, 50% to 90% of people with chronic pain report sleep disturbance. Let’s explore why pain disrupts sleep so seriously and a few helpful ways to get relief.

Pain Interrupts Your Sleep Cycles

When we sleep, our brains go through cycles in which we fluctuate between deep and light sleep. Every 90 minutes, adults go through a complete cycle of light sleep, deep sleep, and back to light sleep. If there is something disrupting your sleep, it can prevent you from reaching deeper stages and thus cause multiple awakenings throughout the night, robbing you of the refreshing sleep you need. Pain can be one of those disrupters, making it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Pain can also cause microarousals as you sleep. These are brief interruptions during which your brain wakes up for just a few seconds before going back to sleep -- without you even knowing it the next morning. This pattern can slowly sap the refreshing nature of your sleep, leaving you tired and irritable the next day. Even worse, sleeping poorly may change your brain’s chemistry and increase your body’s inflammation, exacerbating your pain by making it feel even more painful.

4 Tips for Managing Your Pain While Sleeping

Are you wondering how to sleep with back pain, neck pain, or any other pain?

  1. Make sure your mattress and pillows aren’t part of the problem

    Let’s look at two common sleeping pain issues: back pain and neck pain. If you have lower back pain while sleeping, you may need to use a firmer mattress to help keep your back aligned. Memory foam pillows that can conform to the shape of your neck and head can provide necessary support. Be wary of sleeping on your stomach however, as this can cause more strain to the back and neck in most situations.

  2. Check your sleep position

    For both neck and back pain, sleeping position is also important. For example, sleeping on your side with knees bent (fetal position) and a pillow between the knees can take strain off your back. So can sleeping on your back with a small pillow under your knees. Similarly, sleeping on your side and back is the best sleeping position for neck pain.

  3. Make sure your pain medication isn’t negatively affecting your sleep

    Some of the stronger pain medications can make problems like sleep apnea worse. Many common sleep aids also have the same issue. Make sure to talk with your doctor about the ways in which your medications may be hurting your sleep.

  4. Try your best to practice good sleep hygiene

    The better you sleep, the better your pain will feel. Limit your exposure to bright lights prior to bed. Try to avoid caffeine and nicotine, particularly close to bedtime. And make sure your sleep environment is quiet and comfortable. Check out our post about sleep hygiene for more tips.

Optimizing Your Body’s Rest Helps To Reduce Pain While Sleeping

Whatever the cause of your pain, remember that your quality of sleep can also suffer. When your sleep suffers, your pain becomes even worse. Always talk to your doctor if the pain is persistent or bothersome. Also, make sure you take the proper precautions to optimize your body’s opportunity to rest, including getting the right mattress and pillows for your needs and practicing good sleep hygiene. Hopefully, with the right combination of elements, you can make your nights (and days) much less painful.

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