Chronic illness, and little to no sleep is an unhealthy combination for those living with chronic pain, more often than not heightening the pain. Below, are a few tips on how you can improve your sleep hygiene and hopefully reduce your chronic pain (painsomnia).
- Relax before bedtime
There are many ways you can relax before bedtime including meditation, taking a bubble bath, using an eye mask, writing down your thoughts, reading a book, using essential oils, listening to soothing sounds like raindrops or lighting a candles (as long as you remember to blow them out). Calming scents like Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint and eucalyptus not only help you unwind but also repel bed bugs and carpet beetles. I personally like to take hot baths, and light a Yankee Lavender & Lemon scented candle to start to unwind and use Tisserand Little Box of Sleep Rollerball kit on my pulse points.
2. Turn off electronic devices
I think we have all been guilty of this one! However, it is important to try and not relax through using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light that electronic devices restricts the amount of melatonin you produce which is essential to s good sleep cycle. If you can’t bring yourself to turn your phone off, try to dim the brightness and put it on airplane mode and in a place out of your bed, to reduce the amount you are disturbed.
3. Take your medication
Unless specifically specified by your doctor to take your medication at other times, taking your medication before bed may help assist you sleep. This is because some medications have side-effects of sleepiness.
4. Avoid drinking water just before bed
Drinking water can help regulate your temperature, improve your skin and keep you hydrated. However, you should avoid drinking water 30 minutes before bed to avoid more disruptions throughout the night like getting up to go to the toilet!
5. Get into a sleep routine
Set a bedtime, so you get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. If you find that you can’t fall asleep then get up to move your body and then get back into bed. Try not to use your bed for other activities other than sleeping and having sex. Also, I learnt that hard way of don’t get into the habit of sitting in the dark in the day in your bed as your body will finder it harder to associate when it is time to sleep. Try to use your relaxation techniques and you may find it useful using a free sleeping tracker app or a smart watch like a Fitbit to track your different stages of sleep and what you did on those days that enabled you to sleep better.
5. Try to avoid day-time naps
When you have a chronic illness, you may feel like your body needs a day nap. However, it may be better to rest in your living room than actually falling asleep in the day to prevent you sleeping during the night.
6. Reduce your caffeine intake
Reducing your caffeine intake throughout the day through sipping teas, drinking fizzy drinks or coffee will help you sleep better at night. I recommend you not have caffeine at least 6 hours before you go to bed.
7. Sleeping aids
Sleeping aids can be great to help you feel comfortable in bed. I personally like heated electric blankets and fluffy pyjamas to help with chronic pain. However, other people in the chronic illness community have also recommended weighted blankets and pillows.
If you have tried all these techniques and still are struggling to sleep, it may be worthwhile assisting advice from a doctor to see if you are able to get sleep medication for a short period of time. However, please be aware people can become resistant to sleep medication easily and it is not a long-term solution to try and sleep better.
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