Tips to relieve your insomnia

How to cope with your insomnia and some habits that will help you sleep through the night.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, chances are you are having a challenge sleeping through the night. The inability to sleep is called insomnia and affects two out of every three people.

Insomnia can be defined as:
  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning

A person with chronic pain might take a good hour to fall asleep due to being uncomfortable in bed or just not being physically tired. When one awakes frequently, it may be because turning a certain way causes pain. This can start a vicious cycle, where you can’t get back to sleep because you’re thinking about the pain. Perhaps you are someone who can fall asleep alright but always wakes up too early. This may be due to pain or depression from chronic pain. All of these problems have indicated your sleep patterns are interrupted. When you are tired, it makes it difficult to cope with pain.

To cope with your insomnia try doing the following:
  • Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Especially if you are suffering from back pain.
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, some tea and soda and disrupts sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine before bedtime. Although it may relax you before going to bed, these two stimulants generally wake you in the middle of the night.
  • Control the temperature of your room. Don’t make it so warm to where you will perspire or so cold to where you are tense and rolled up like a ball in bed.
  • Exercise during the day. This will help you sleep better at night, and it also relieves some of the pain you may be experiencing.
  • Don’t take naps during the day. You may be drowsy enough to sleep at night.
  • Get up at the same time each morning. Your body will get into a natural sleep rhythm.
Some other habits that will encourage a good night sleep are:
  • Do not use your bedroom for activities other than sleeping. Do not keep a television or books in your bedroom.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. The hour before bedtime should be one to prepare you for sleep. Take a warm bath or use a relaxation tape.
  • Create a sleep diary. This will help you keep track of your progress.

There are many articles and books available on sleep and chronic pain. One resource book Michigan State University Extension suggests is “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” by Kate Lorig. MSU Extension PATH classes use this resource as part of their curriculum. To sign up for a Chronic Pain class, call your local MSU Extension office to find out when the next program will begin. For more tips on health and nutrition visit Michigan State University Extension page on chronic disease.

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