When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, Americans are severely lacking. We all know that seven to nine hours of sleep per night are what’s generally recommended, but current statistics show that the average American is getting just 6.8 hours of sleep per night. For those who suffer from chronic pain, getting to sleep and staying asleep can be even more difficult. Here are a few strategies to help those with chronic pain sleep as soundly as possible night after night.
Form A Routine
In the first two months of life, babies cannot differentiate between day or night, and have not developed a circadian rhythm. Luckily, adults can develop their own routine and sleep habits. More than 1.5 billion people live with chronic pain, and the first step to enhancing the amount and quality of sleep you get each night, regardless of your pain level, is to form a routine and stick to it. Try to start the process of going to sleep within an hour or two range each night. Similarly, try to wake up around the same time every morning as well. This eventually gets your body aligned on a circadian rhythm that allows it to fall asleep and wake up easier.
The winding down portion of the process is also important and should not be neglected. Around an hour to an hour and a half before going to sleep, start winding down by turning off screens and getting yourself relaxed.
“An hour before bed try sitting down with a decaffeinated drink and a light snack, perhaps after a warm bath. You could read or listen to music,” writes Charlotte Ward on Mirror.
Exercise Earlier In The Day
It may sound surprising, but those who exercise regularly often report getting a higher quality of sleep. However, there’s a catch — you need to time your workouts so they’re earlier in the day. Not only will this help you stay relaxed for the rest of the day, but you’re bound to notice an almost instant improvement in mood.
Know The Most Comfortable Sleeping Position For Your Injury
Everybody has a preference when it comes to comfortable sleeping positions, but it’s important to know that there are sleeping positions that correspond to many injury types and are medically proven to ease musculoskeletal stress. Knee pain, for example, is the second most common cause of chronic pain. Dr. Andrew Yaun, chiropractic sports physician, suggests tucking a pillow under the affected knee if you’re sleeping on your back, and if you’re sleeping on your side, tuck a pillow between both your knees. For a more permanent solution, however, Dr. Yaun suggests taking more serious action.
“If you have back pain combined with hip or knee pain, go to a doctor to address the situation before it becomes worse,” he advises on Van Winkle’s.
Optimize Body Temperature
Finally, check the temperature you’re used to sleeping in. Sleeping when you’re too warm can cause restlessness and less dreaming sleep. Being too cold, however, can also have negative implications, making it difficult for the body to relax and get to sleep and having the potential to cause bad dreams. Experts say to improve sleep, the ideal temperature is about 64.4 degrees F. Don’t be afraid to open your windows to let in some fresh air as well.
Ultimately, sleeping soundly is one of the most important ingredients to maintaining a positive overall quality of life. Understanding and implementing these strategies can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night for years to come.