Achieving The joy of Sleeping

Achieving The joy of Sleeping

By Ellen Lenox Smith

Too much of growing up was just taken for granted. I happened to be very fortunate having enough food, a roof over my head, both parents in my life, a good education and what I believed to be, good quality sleep. In retrospect, I now wonder if I had ever experienced good quality restorative sleep as I would awake each morning and be able to vividly recall and thus share, the very graphic dreams from the previous night. I thought that dream recollection was an indicator of healthy sleep. But I was wrong and now I understand why I seemed to be more tired than so many in my social circle. I have now discovered a healthy natural method to achieve restorative, generally uninterrupted sleep. As a result, I now wake up with no recollection of any dreams and have gained rest in a way I had never really experienced by achieving REM sleep. What a joy it is to a wake feeling rested!

Ellen Lenox Smith

Up until just eleven years ago, sleeping was a huge challenge, as I am sure so many of you also experience. This issue seems to only get worse as we age and if you are also living with chronic pain, it often can become terribly compounded due to sleep deprivation. There is just nothing worse than getting up in the AM with a day to address and live out but all you really want to do, is return to bed as quickly as you can. What kind of way is this to start the day? Little, interrupted or no sleep can initiate a process which undermines one’s physical and psychological health by dramatically increasing the stress in one’s life. We all are well aware of the relationship between stress and health along with stress and pain. In fact, for many patients, the lack of healthy restorative sleep may prove to be the primary culprit in inhibiting their return to good health.

These are a few ideas that I have learned through the years to help achieve quality sleep. I hope these suggestions might also help you:

  1. Try to avoid large heavy meals or snacks close to bedtime. I find I do best not eating again after dinner, although there are times it is so tempting. Those nights I break down and cheat, I could kick myself as I lay in bed not being able to fall asleep! Sugar, carbs and excess food does is not conducive to achieving healthy sleep.
  2. I need to take pain medication at night that helps with achieving restorative sleep. However, I need to stick with a time frame and try to be as consistent as possible. When I take my medication and then wait too long to get to bed and it has already started to activate, I have trouble going to sleep.
  3. Try to find a match which is compatible for you to help with sleep, if you also have trouble. We are all different and need not judge what works for one and not us. For some it might be an opiate, sleep medication, and even cannabis. It wasn’t until I had DNA drug sensitivity testing which enabled me to determine what I was able to metabolize that I was able to experience quality sleep.
  4. When you are just having one of those nights when sleep seems elusive, consider getting up from bed, if that is safe for you, and read or do something else quietly as you wait for the groggy sensation to return. From what I have read, reading is a much better option that TV as television for many can prove stimulative.
  5. One night, I received a text with some pretty upsetting information about a friend. That night, despite my medication and being exhausted, no matter what I tried, I could not fall asleep. I have now learned not to bring the phone into the family room before bed just in case there is news that is best not to confront and can just as easily be dealt with the following day. I also have my husband screen any calls prior to bed before going to bed.
  6. I use to be able to have a small glass of wine or even a shot of vodka in the evening, but since my neck surgeries, I find drinking does not help me with sleeping but instead, keeps me awake. Just something to pay attention to in case it is working against you, like me.

Keep searching for the magic that will help you get good quality of sleep. No matter what you are facing, we all have in common that experiencing a poor night of sleep makes the next day so difficult to cope with. In fact, the lack of healthy restorative sleep may be critical in maintaining or restoring your long term health issues. We deserve better and I certainly hope that you are able to find your answer to this problem so many cope with.

May life be kind to you,

Ellen lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain- And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website.

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website.

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Bonnie E Vandercook

Rakel, I am interested in what you said, and to whom it was directed.
If you are speaking of my taking Klonopin for sleep, you did not hear what I was saying.
I would not get “hooked” on this drug. I get absolutely no sense of euphoria….mentally or physically. It relaxes my body, yes, but it does not get me “high”. It stops the pain enough that I am able to sleep for about 6 hours. It also does not mean that I do not wake up during the night. I do. But I am usually able to fall back to sleep. I take it because I have a body full of pain from fibromyalgia, as well as a botched shoulder operation. But beyond that, this small amount (1mg) at night keeps, as I said, the Menieres attacks down.
I tried MANY other tactics before my doctor came up with this drug. And yes, I have tried melatonin.
If you go to the Mayo Clinic web site and look up Menieres Disease, you will see this is the drug they recommend.
I agree there are ppl. that abuse many drugs. I am not that person.


I like stretching and yoga before sleep. Meditation and use a humidifier!

I’ve struggled with sleep all my life and I think my good days were had when I had a great night’s sleep. I could usually trace it back to a good meal or a good workout!


Suggesting people find a pill to help them sleep is not healthy! I can see suggesting melatonin for helping your mind and body get into a restful state but sleeping pills, opiates, etc, is a good way to get addicted. Opiates should be used for pain relief not sleep, doctors who prescribe opiates for sleep add to the opioid crisis which leads to raids, threats, doctor’s closing down and true chronic pain patients not getting help. And also suggesting alcohol alone or with pills is not safe or healthy, ask any doctor, pharmacist or nurse! Seriously poor content here and dangerous ideas.


Really Anthony? When I asked my doctor if I could drink with my meds he said “try it and see”. But he is sane and whatever he feels is right regardless of the ” climate”

Ellen you interest me as Prof Matthew Walker’s best selling book “Why We Sleep” Allen Lane 2017 summarising decades of his research into sleep says they have discovered and proven the purpose of dreams is to process the emotions of the previous day. He says if you are not dreaming you are less healthy. I agree we all undersleep and he says this too. He gives lots of advice on how to achieve proper sleep

Bonnie Vandercook

I am so glad you are able to get pain meds. For most of the ppl. who are writing and reading on these posts the pain meds. are no longer available.
I have been put into that category. Sort of.
I have fibromyalgia, as well as chronic pain from several operations. My primary care doctor refuses to even address the issue, other than to send me to several specialists.
My dilemma started when I moved from Fl. to Oregon a year ago.
I have not felt heard by any of the doctors I have been sent to. Others have listened and been concerned. The P.T. listened and agreed I needed my meds. The nursing staff coordinator in the hospital also agreed, as did a sleep specialist I was referred to. But none of them could prescribe my drug. It was unanimous, my primary care should address the issue.
The drug I have been on for years not only helps me sleep at night, it keeps Menieres at bay. It allows me to wake up and start my day, without my world spinning, or my ears buzzing. It allows me to work a full day…plus.
Since I have moved to Oregon I have only been able to continue my drug regimen by going back to my doctor in Fl. Which presents as a pretty expensive fix.
My medication is not even classified as a pain med.
I have been trying to find a doctor who will give me 1 mg. of klonopin. ONE MG!
With each Menieres episode I can loose more of my hearing. If I continue without my meds. I could be totally deaf. Then I will not be able to work at what I’ve done for 30 years.
One person posted in here about putting an ad in the paper for a caring concerned doctor. I loved the ad. It was so “all inclusive”.
Makes me wonder on an on going basis…just who is deaf?


I am being tested for narcolepsy.

Vivid dreaming can be a sign of sleep disturbance from sleep apnea or narcolepsy. If you haven’t seen a sleep doctor, I encourage you to do so.


Your description of your dream recollection fascinates me. More often that not, I dream extremely vividly. I can smell odors, feel heat, or cold, etc, and retain those memories after I wake up and retain some of them permanently. LIke the dream when I was about to be run over by a bus. The smell of the exhaust fumes, the super hot heat of the pavement, the colors; like it was real.
I never considered that that could be related to not sleeping well. I have never in my life known what it’s like to wake up and feel great, even when the alarm doesn’t wake me. Now, with chronic pain and not working, I sleep a lot but still dont’ feel refreshed.
I had one BF who, every morning at 6am when the alarm went off, would wake up with a smile, feeling great. It amazed me like nothing else. Other BF’s, even if they hate when the alarm went off, still managed not to be tired all the time like I was — tired all the time.

Anthony Harding

No liquor with pain medicine, one single beer and the doctor will drop you in a heart beat