Great Ways to Sleep Well With Chronic Pain
By Karen Heslop
Falling asleep and staying asleep when you're dealing with chronic pain can be difficult. To make things worse, studies show that insufficient sleep can make the pain even worse. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you still get a good night's rest.
Try Eating Foods That Encourage Sleepiness
Certain foods are known to elevate the tryptophan level in the body, which in turn increases the level of the sleep-regulating hormone, serotonin. By eating foods that influence the body's level of tryptophan, you may fall asleep faster, sleep better, and feel more alert when you wake up. Some of the foods that can be added to an evening meal include rice, fruits, milk, fatty fish, and shellfish.
Start a Daily Yoga Routine
When done properly, yoga has been linked to alleviating chronic back pain as well as promoting overall relaxation. It also works well when paired with a meditation practice. To get the best results, it's recommended that you work with a licensed practitioner. That way, they will be able to modify the poses to meet your needs when necessary.
Try a Short Bout of Evening Exercise
This kind of exercise can be as simple as a short walk. While the activity can give you some well-needed exercise, it also has an effect on your body temperature. As you move, your core temperature rises but the heat dissipates quickly because of the increased blood flow. The result is a lower overall body temperature that can trigger the body's sleep cycle.
Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bed
Once you're ready to go to sleep, relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep more quickly. Some experts recommend some deep breathing exercises, guided meditation, or listening to music. The aim is to calm your mind.
Make a Plan for Getting Back to Sleep
Chronic pain can make it difficult to stay asleep, especially if the slightest movement triggers it. The best way to deal with that is to have a plan. In some cases, taking a moment to read a book under a dim light or practicing some more deep breathing works well. Whatever you do, don't disrupt your sleep further by turning on bright lights or reaching for an electronic device.
When you're making changes to your routine, talk to your doctor first. It's best to ensure that the changes will not interfere with your current medical regimen. While none of the tips above involve pain medication, don't shy away from consulting your doctor about that too. It's possible to establish a workable plan that uses painkillers as well as a good routine.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Raleigh, N.C.