Sleep Friendly For Chronic Pain

Facts About Sleep

  • Human’s sleep is governed by daily Circadian Rhythm. We possess different types of rhythms, some rhythms make us feel sleepy, hungry, or sated, tired or active across the 24 hour clock. Often, we don’t realize the rhythms in our body, it seems to be from the autonomous nervous system. Anything that adapts to temperature changes and dark or light changes in our environment, all possess a natural cyclical rhythm.
  • Human needs about 6-7 hours of sleep to reset the body’s function.
  • Only human wants to delay or abort the sleep cycle, other animals and plants do not just follow their natural sleep and wake up cycle.
  • Circadian rhythm allows us to preserve our internal representation of our outside world so that we can sync our own survival behaviors to match with the external events. Our body maintains a cyclical rhythm for when to release hormone level, feeling active, sleepy, hungry, or exhausted or tired.

Sleep irregularity significantly affects Pain

Surprisingly, chronic pain also has its circadian rhythm, some of us perceive more pain in the morning and others feel a lot more pain in the evening hours. We also can be affected by weather and temperature. Some of us do not like a cloudy windy day because we can feel that chronic back pain is moving lower and more severe. Circadian patterns in pain can be thought of as the changes of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis and its cortisol output along with changes in the hormone of melatonin in the evening. Melatonin is the most important sleep inducing hormone.
So pain and sleep are interrelated. Pain disrupts sleep, causes less sleep, prevents long and deep sleep process. In fact, in recent researches, sleep does have a much more effect on pain than pain has effect on sleep. Sleep disruption is much more the real cause of increase pain. The good news is human can have more control of sleep than we think we are.

So managing sleep is consequential in the pain management. If you miss sleep, your tolerance of pain is lower immediately the next morning and your feeling of pain is substantially increased.
Improve your sleep to alleviate your pain successfully.

  1. Prioritize Sleep
    For Chronic pain patient, the cost of not enough sleep is lost of work the next morning, lost of income. It is extremely important for patients to have a well rest sleep.
    Making sure your sleep surface is comfortable, your pillow does not crack your neck.
    Making sure your room temperature is not too hot or not too cold. Different people like different temperature setting.
    Making sure your room is dark, no noise.
    If you need to set the alarm clock, you set it and turn the clock away from you, so you don’t get up in the middle of the night and disrupt your sleep. Keep a habit do not look at the clock at night if you wake up in the middle of the night. Watching the clock at night increases the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. The sympathetic nervous system is a fight or flight system, you don’t need at sleep time, it increases your heart rate, your adrenaline, and causes sleep disruption and worsens pain.

Make really strong anchor between bed and sleep
Our mind works by association all the time. We salivate more when we just see a lemon slice. We associate a new sport car with a young attractive female. Therefore, we want to have a strong anchor between bed and sleep, not confusing bed with stress, bed with anxiety, worrisome. Reserve your bed for sleep and no light. If you cannot sleep for long hours, wake up and go sit or sleep somewhere in the sofa or love seat. Enforce the bed for sleep so you have a strong cue for time to go to sleep.

Making sure during the day, you work out, exercise, walk the blocks to increase your chance to fall asleep in the evening hours.

2. Know your natural sleep pattern
If you normally go to bed and sleep at 10 in the evening, then prepare 2 hours before 10, slow down, meditate, do breathing exercise, starting turn light down. In the morning, by 6 AM, you need to force yourself out of bed. Get out and get moving, you respect your sleep cycle, you start breakfast at 7 or 8 AM, build a good routine, a regular habit of get out of bed so you can reset your clock cycle.

If you need to take sleep medicine, take medicine 5 hours before bedtime, so it enhances the melatonin level and induces sleep at bedtime

Here for your sleep.