Does sleep seem to be illusive for you as you struggle with pain? Can’t find a comfortable position? The chronic ache won’t let you relax? The throbbing stab yells at you for all your attention? You toss and turn in vain to find a position where you are out of pain?
I know it all. I spend too much time awake when I should be sleeping. There are a lot of us out there, insomniacs for one reason or another. This article hopes to address some suggestions for how to sleep in pain.
Sleep, What is It?
Sleep? Have you ever thought about what it is? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary it is “the natural, easily reversible periodic state of many living things that is marked by the absence of wakefulness and by the loss of consciousness of one’s surroundings, is accompanied by a typical body posture (such as lying down with the eyes closed), the occurrence of dreaming, and changes in brain activity and physiological functioning, is made up of cycles of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, and is usually considered essential to the restoration and recovery of vital bodily and mental functions”. Note the emphasis on being essential to restoration and recovery of the mind and body. Which tells me that if you aren’t getting the required sleep you need, that you are not functioning at your best.
There are many external factors that affect our sleep, such as work (including shift work which is a challenge in itself), food and environment. But there are internal ones as well, including stress levels and pain. I am presenting this post mostly for those of us who are in pain, because that pain can impact our sleep. And lack of good sleep impacts our pain. It can be a vicious cycle. If you want a more detailed discussion of external factors affecting sleep, see this Harvard Education link. But read on even if you aren’t in pain. Hopefully this post will lead you to better sleep.
Here’s a statistic reported by The National Sleep Foundation. “Sixty-five percent of those with no pain reported good or very good sleep quality, while only 45 percent of those with acute pain and 37 percent of those with chronic pain did the same. Additionally, 23 percent of those with chronic pain reported higher stress levels, compared with 7 percent of those without pain.” I’ve seen a report that states one in four people have chronic pain. So there are many of us that don’t sleep well.