Sleep and Pain Management
Sleep and Pain Management is the last in a series of ten articles from the book Pain Management by Robert Hoffman.
Sleep and Pain Management
We all need to spend one-third of our day sleeping – and for many good reasons. It is essential to get adequate sleep, especially when you are experiencing pain. How much is adequate will vary depending on many factors, including age, gender, lifestyle, general health, and others.
Get Eight Hours
Eight hours is often given as an ideal, but for many people, that should be considered a minimum. Also, that needs to be every night. And it is not just about spending eight hours in bed; sleep has to be of good quality, or else, you will still feel tired when you wake up.
Many people say they just don’t have time for eight hours of sleep. Often, these same people manage to rack up many hours watching TV. If you are suffering from pain, prioritizing sleep is even more important.
Why Sleep Is Important for Healing
When you sleep, your body is freed from its daily rigors and can shift its efforts to restoring and repairing cells and tissues. Some hormones, essential for healing, can only be released when you sleep.
During sleep is when the body can repair blood vessels, heal wounds, repair damaged muscles, and create more white blood cells to boost your immune system.
As the body is resting, there is less demand on your heart, so your blood pressure drops and other muscles relax. This is important in reducing inflammation in your body that causes pain.
Energy and Pain
Pain management also requires energy. That’s why getting enough and quality sleep is crucial to allow your body to rest, so you can wake up energized the next morning. Research has also shown that being even mildly sleep-deprived increases sensitivity to pain. Getting regular full nights of sleep will make any pain and discomfort more bearable.
Tips To Get Quality Sleep At Night
While sleep should be part of the normal day to day cycle, many people find it hard to spend eight hours in bed. Others are so caught up in their busy schedules and lifestyles that they tend to ignore their need for sleep. Experiencing pain can also make it hard for people to fall asleep or have a good quality sleep because pain can cause sleep disturbances.
Here are some tips on how you can get quality sleep at night to help your body heal, and help in your pain management:
Establish a Bedtime Routine
You are a product of your habits. Establishing a bedtime routine can help your body recognize the signs that it is time to sleep and rest. Set a specific time to go to bed, and a specific time to get up. For example, you have decided you must go to sleep by 9 p.m. every night, and wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, regardless of the quality of the sleep you had.
To do so, be in bed at least 30 minutes before your bedtime, to allow your body and mind to calm down and relax. So, if you’ve set 9 p.m. as your bedtime, lay down on your bed by 8:30 p.m.
It is also helpful to create a routine before bedtime, to be followed in the same order each night. Prepare your things for the next day, brush your teeth, take a warm bath, and read a few pages of a book.
These activities will signal your mind that you are nearing your bedtime, so the energy drops and your mind and body start to relax.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Your nervous system needs to calm down for you to be able to sleep. Relaxation techniques can help ease your body into good quality sleep. Among these techniques are deep abdominal breathing, meditation, guided imagery, and soothing music.
Exercise Regularly and Eat a Healthy Diet
What you do during the day can also greatly affect the quality of sleep you have at night. Exercise regularly, but don’t do it within two hours of your bedtime. Also, don’t eat in the hour before going to bed.
It is important to eat healthy foods all day, but absolutely refrain from high GI food and drink between your evening meal and bedtime. Soft drinks or drinks containing caffeine are a big no.
Make a Strong Association Between Your Bed and Sleep
Use your bed for sleeping purposes only to establish a strong connection between your body and sleep. It signals to the brain that when you lay down on your bed, it is time to sleep.
That means you should not use your bed for other activities, such as reading a book or working on your laptop. Any type of screen viewing will adversely affect your sleep, so keep them out of the bedroom.
Also, set the temperature of your room to cool, make it quiet, and turn off the lights. Darkness promotes the release of melatonin, which is essential for the body to achieve deep and healing sleep.
Sleep Complements and Supports Conventional Pain Relief
Pain management, especially for chronic pain, is often focused on prescription medications. However, it is time to start focusing on getting enough and good quality sleep, tapping the body’s natural ability to heal.
Effective pain management is multi-faceted, and effective and adequate sleep must be part of any plan.