By Kimberly Hayes.
Does pain make it difficult for you to fall asleep, wake you up in the middle of the night, or leave you groggy and achy in the morning? Chronic pain can have a big impact on the quantity and quality of your sleep. And when you’re not sleeping well, your pain is more likely to flare up and cause problems throughout the day. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can achieve quality sleep despite chronic pain. Use these tips to improve your sleep so you can finally rest easy.
1. Invest in a better bed
If you sleep the recommended eight hours per night, that’s one third of your life spent on your bed. If your bed isn’t comfortable, it can put a serious damper on the quality of sleep you get, which is a major detriment to your quality of life. Unfortunately, many people suffer sleepless nights on uncomfortable mattresses because they think a new bed is out of their budget. But the truth is, you don’t have to spend thousands to buy the latest and greatest in sleep technology. The best mattress for you is whichever one feels most comfortable for your body.
Back and joint pain sufferers do best with medium-firm to firm mattresses, about a 5.5-7.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale. The mattress should conform to your body to relieve pressure points and keep your spine in alignment. Memory foam mattresses are a great option for joint and back pain sufferers, but don’t take that as gospel. The best way to find a mattress that’s comfortable for you is to read reviews online then test mattresses in person. You can visit mattress stores to test different models or shop online from manufacturers that offer trial periods and easy returns.
2. Replace your pillow
Your pillow is a critical component of your sleep system. The wrong pillow can throw your spine out of alignment and lead to morning stiffness and pain. The best pillow for you depends on how you sleep; side sleepers should use a thick, firm pillow, back sleepers a thin, medium-firm pillow, and stomach sleepers a thin, soft pillow or no pillow at all. No matter your sleep position, the goal is to keep your neck and head in a neutral position. Your pillow’s fill material also affects how well it holds its shape throughout the night. For more advice about shopping for a pillow, read Consumer Reports’ pillow guide.
3. Improve your sleep environment
Do you lie awake at night unable to get the buzzing of electronics out of your head or wake up sweaty and uncomfortable halfway through the night? It’s important to eliminate distraction and discomfort from your bedroom so you can fall and stay asleep at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal bedroom is kept between 60 and 67 degrees, dark, and quiet. In addition to keeping electronics out of the bedroom and using curtains to block out light, avoid using your bedroom for anything other than sex and sleep. This includes leaving the bedroom if you wake up during the night and can’t fall back to sleep. Your bedroom should be associated with rest, not your favorite TV shows, your to-do list, or your anxious ruminations.
4. Get more exercise
Daily exercise doesn’t just help you feel tired at night. It also reduces the symptoms of chronic pain and improves your mental health so you’re less likely to lay awake at night in a state of hyperarousal. However, don’t expect a single workout to offer immediate benefits. It can take up to four months of regular exercise to improve the duration and restfulness of your sleep.
Poor sleep complicates life in a number of ways. In addition to worsening chronic pain, insomnia contributes to weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. It makes you more stressed and less capable in everyday life, which affects your job, relationships, and overall quality of life. However, living with chronic pain doesn’t mean you have to accept poor quality sleep. Adopt these sleep tips and talk to your doctor if you’re still struggling to fall and stay asleep at night.
Featured image via Unsplash
Kimberly Hayes is an author and runs a wellness website www.publichealthalert.info