Breaking the Cycle of Insomnia and Chronic Pain
Ahhh, everyone loves the sinking-into-bed feeling you get after a long day, especially when a night of undisrupted sleep follows. Unfortunately this can be hard to obtain for those of us with chronic pain.
When you’re experiencing pain, it can be hard to sleep, and when you’re not getting enough sleep, your pain and stress levels are likely to go up. This can become a nasty cycle and a difficult one to overcome– but we have a few tips that may help.
Limit Caffeine Consumption.
Most people find that having one cup of coffee in the morning does not affect the sleep cycle. But did you know that caffeine can stress the adrenal glands which can cause weakened glands over time, resulting in pain in the lower back? If you have to have that one morning cup, try eliminating caffeine for the rest of the day. Opt for water, sparkling water, or caffeine free teas.
Monitor Screen Time.
Instead of watching tv or scrolling through facebook, try using the hour before bedtime to read, journal, or meditate. This will allow your body to produce a hormone called melatonin that helps you relax and regulate your sleep cycle, which can also result in less chronic pain. The harsh lights of a television, computer or cellphone get in the way of this natural relaxation process by triggering electrical activity that keeps you awake.
Incorporate Physical Activity.
Studies suggest that people sleep exceptionally better when they incorporate 150 minutes of exercise during the week. If chronic pain is getting in the way, start small and focus on the benefits. Try simple stretch band exercises, take a gentle walk around your neighborhood, or park a few rows back from the entrance of the grocery store. When you get moving, you increase circulation and oxygen to the brain. This then improves neuroplasticity - a term used to describe the body’s ability to adapt to injury and disease.
Try a Sound Machine.
The hum of white noise can help you relax and drift off to sleep. The sound of the ocean or music you find calming can provide something to focus on instead of your pain. As you listen, try to breathe that soothing noise in and let it flow through your body. Soothing sounds in, pain out.
Try a Relaxation Exercise.
If you’re having a hard time drifting off to sleep, try this Toe Tensing exercise to help you relax and draw tension from the rest of your body. When the brain is focused on other areas of the body, it will reduce the focus on the areas that are uncomfortable.
- Lie on your back, close your eyes.
- Sense your toes.
- Now, pull all 10 toes back toward your face. Count to 10 slowly.
- Now, relax your toes.
- Count to 10 slowly.
- Repeat the above cycle 10 times, or until you fall asleep.
Not yet a member of Pack Health?
If you’re dealing with chronic pain related to rheumatoid arthritis, consider connecting with one of our Health Advisors for personalized tips and support on your schedule. They’ll become your accountability partner and advocate, calling you weekly to help you with anything and everything related to your health.
The best part: we have the grant funding to offer you our 3 month program at no cost, no credit card info required. Click here to learn more and sign up.
P.S. We're also developing a fully funded program for psoriatic arthritis. Learn more and get your early access pass here.