Insomnia And Chronic Pain: Beat It Without Medication
artwork by Elianne
Sleep disruption is around 80 percent worse for people in pain than anyone else, says American Sleep Apnea Association. Medication isn’t everyone’s response, so if you can't sleep due to chronic pain, here are some alternatives.
Develop a Sleep Routine
Poor sleeping habits can form slowly as chronic pain develops, so slowly you may not notice. When you start taking daytime naps, don’t get out of bed all day, or start answering work emails from bed, you’ve probably started building negative habits.
The reasons are understandable: pain makes concentrating much tougher.
You can take back control with some simple rituals to build into your day.
Some steps you can take include:
Get out of bed at the same time, no matter when you went to sleep the previous night
Make bedtime a set time, too
Avoid electronic devices before you sleep
Don’t nap! Daytime naps are appealing, but your nighttime sleep will be worse; you’ll sleep lighter and get disturbed. It forms a cycle; you’ll need a daily nap to compensate for your poor night’s sleep.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
If your barrier to sleeping well is your sleep anxiety, relaxation techniques can help. It’s not a quick-fix, you need regular practice to get an effect.
You can try some of these techniques:
Meditation techniques where you breathe deeper, such as belly breathing - you take deep slow breaths from down in your belly
Visual stories: guide yourself through a story in your mind’s eye
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is muscle exercises to do whilst in bed
Look for a technique that works for you. You can find information online or investigate joining sleep training or education sessions, either individually or in a class.
The Flowly app takes you into a Virtual Reality world, monitors your breathing, and helps you learn to control your nervous system. Using a VR headset, you go through your relaxation method to sleep better.
There’s a clear link between chronic pain and sleep deprivation.
Sleep quality in chronic pain patients is low as compared with people who sleep regularly.
It’s not all bleak - it’s possible to build good sleeping habits without medication. Use the sleep tips for chronic pain here and you should see things drastically improve.