Resolve Pain logo

Sleep planning

Sleep is when you recover. Sleep is when you gain energy to allow you to do the things you want to do in your day. Unfortunately, often when you experience pain, it can prevent you getting sleep or can change your usual sleep patterns. Research has shown that this increases cortisol levels – our stress hormone, reduces recovery, worsens fatigue, lowers mood, makes us grumpier, and ultimately makes life more difficult.

While we work together to reduce your pain, it is important that we do everything we can to help our quality of lifeand recovery. Sleep is very based on patterns and biorhythms. If you wake at 1am every night and have something to eat and think about the world – then your body will wake you up tomorrow at 1am again – sometimes whether you want to or not.

Sleep like a koala

If you don’t get enough physical exercise in the day, your mind might be tired, but your body may not – leading to restless legs and fidgeting making it difficult to sleep. Often people are trying to sleep too many hours. Our body can only sleep 6-8 hours a day. If you are going to bed at 8pm, and then are frustrated that you keep waking up at 2 or 3am in the morning – then this is because your body is saying ‘right! I’m done with sleep.

Lying in bed for longer than 8 hours a day – will not give you more energy. What happens to nearly everyone is that when you lie there in the dark, you start to stress and worry, and often our brain focuses on our pain – often making our pain worse at night and making us more tired in the daytime! The other problem for many people is napping too much in the day. Every hour you sleep in the day, is an hour less you will sleep at night. If you nap for 3 hours in the day, then try to go to bed at 9pm, you will be awake at 3am andfind it very hard to get back to sleep.

If you go into bed, but then start worrying about the world, then this will wake you up. You can then lie there forhours but going to sleep will be difficult. We suggest if you go into bed but cannot sleep within 15 mins – get up. Go out to another room, lights down low, and read a book or do something simple and not stimulating. Don’t watch television! The bright lights and moving pictures are DESIGNED to keep us awake and engaged in the screen. When you are feeling sleepy again, then you can go back into bed and try to sleep again.

Keep the pattern going until you fall asleep. If this is not working, then go to bed later in the evening – as your body is not yet ready for sleep (even if sometimes we feel like we are!)

Other important things include sleep problems such as sleep apnoea. Do you snore? Do you ever pause breathing? Not feeling refreshed in the morning? It is possible you have sleep apnoea – a condition where you hold your breath at night over and over again – never getting a deep sleep – and not getting enough oxygen to your body. Talk to your health care provider and pain doctor to consider having a simple test. Minimise alcohol, minimise caffeine (including soft drink and tea), and don’t drink too much water or liquid after 6pm – or you might be up urinating all night!

There are medications which we can use to help with pain that have a side effect of drowsiness. Sometimes these can be helpful if your pain is keeping you awake at night. Talk to your doctor about whether any of these medications may be suitable for you.

Click here for PDF printable copy← Back to resources

Talk to us today about how we can help you
on your journey to Resolve Pain.