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Sleep: The definitive topic about getting enough sleep despite pain

May 25, 2015 1:03 PM

Being able to get enough and good sleep despite the pain seems to be one of the major problems when suffering from chronic pain conditions. This can quickly lead to a vicious circle: Not being able to get the necessary rest during the night might increase your pain level which will make it even harder to be able to sleep.

How can you get out of this vicious circle and get good sleep? This community topic is all about ways to make it easier to get enough/some sleep. Please share your insights that you have made over the years with our community.

Kind regards,

May 25, 2015 1:33 PM

Here is my personal learning that I made:

Because I am rather tall, I need a large pillow. I realized that small pillows would not generate enough space between my head, my shoulder and the mattress. Small pillows cause a nerve impingement between my head and my shoulder. A big pillow helps me to avoid impingement and maintain a much more relaxed and less painful position. And of course there are also pillows that are too big for me ;-)

This might sound like an obvious and trivial improvement, but I had been sleeping on the wrong pillow for years without noticing it. Before my pain started that did not affect me too much. But once I started suffering from pain the wrong pillow in combination with my pain became a significant source of irritation. Finally having the right pillow size made quite a big difference for me and it was one of the many puzzle pieces which lead to a significant reduction of my pain.

I was always looking for the one big thing (magic pill, magic operation, magic treatment) that would solve my pain. Ultimately, I had to learn that getting rid of my pain is a long journey with many detours, dead ends, and hidden puzzle pieces in sometimes unexpected corners. This journey is very frustrating and I had to be very persistent and also creative. I hope that we can help each other to get our "old life" back or find a new enjoyable life. Sleep is one puzzle piece and I am looking forward to read about your ways on how to improve sleep.

Kind regards,

May 26, 2015 1:08 AM

I use Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation technique whenever I can't fall asleep. Helps me to get my mind off the pain and negative thoughts. Ideally I fall asleep before finishing the exercise.

May 27, 2015 12:05 AM

I have struggled with insomnia for as long as I can remember. I remember being about 6 years old in bed wide awake with a quiet dark house. And I often slept from about 2-6 am during my teen years. But now, not only is my quantity of sleep less but the quality of sleep is terrible. I am always tired. I tried not drinking caffeine very often because it gives me terrible RLS. But now I find myself having it more because I just rode with somein.

....I have more to say but, ironically I keep drifting off to sleep typing this and making zero sense when I wake up again.

May 27, 2015 5:55 AM

Okay, clearer mind now.
I started just about NEEDING the caffeine stimulant because my doctor just put me on Trazodone to help me sleep at night. I tried a half dose and was awake until 5 am. If I take a full dose it makes me sleep all night with less restlessness. My problem is that I toss and turn and wake up and get my sleep in 20 minute bits of time, typically.
I am fundamentally against the cycle of drugs. Take sleep aid, require stimulant in morning, can't sleep without sleep aid, repeat. But I've come down to it because I just don't sleep.
I used to have a long sleep inducing routine. I did 30 minutes of yoga then a hot bath with Epsom salt and lavender. Then laid on my accupressure mat for 40 minutes while listening to brain waves from Relax Melodies app. Finally, I take melatonin 20 minutes before I am hoping to fall asleep. All those things DO HELP. But it's a lot of work for something other people can do by closing their eyes while horizontal.

May 27, 2015 8:04 AM

I developed sleep issues in 2006 of noon ability to fall asleep and/or continuous waking throughout the night due to pain, and my doctor put me on Ambien. I didn't know at the time it was fibromyalgia pain causing my broken sleep-wake pattern to change positions.

Last Spring I became concerned that I was becoming dependent/addicted to the Ambien, after my PCP increased the dose and it still want working that well (8+ yes on it). A new psychiatrist weaned me of of it and kept me on a low dose antidepressant. I was under her 6 months with zero improvement of sleep quality or quantity, even though she had me using melatonin and benadryl to sleep. Is wake because of pain and discomfort all night long.

Entered 2015 and insurance changes, so I was able to go back to my old psych doc. He was disturbed no one had been running a liver check while I was on the Ambien or Pamelor. He explained after my labs came back that my natural serotonin levels were too low, and it could cause sleep issues as well as pain issues. He's increased my Pamelor twice to triple the dose and not only an I sleeping much better, my pain no longer wakes me at night, unless I'm in a flare episode or have done too much the day before. Pamelor is an old school antidepressant that most doctors avoid because they prefer the newer drugs. I'm on 75mg a night and it works where the newer drugs I've tried cause reactions.

I also avoid watching anything like intense drama, murder mysteries, stressful conversations, or even news two hours before bedtime. I try to stay on a schedule, going to bed and waking at the same time. I also avoid caffeine after 2 pm. All in all is say my sleep quality and quantity has improved by 90%. I still have rough nights about 3-5 nights a month. These are what works for me. 🙏🌼

May 28, 2015 5:42 PM

I have a sleep disorder that is the cause of my pain, so sleep is constantly on my mind.

For me what helps the most is routine. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time... and even if I wasn't able to get to sleep "on time" still get up at the same time, even if it means not getting that 8 hours.... because if I "sleep in" that caused the cycle of staying up later, followed by sleeping later, followed by staying up......

Going to bed and getting up at the same time is only part of the routine. Also important are the things involved in getting ready for bed, it sounds silly to some, but there is a reason why having a bedtime routine makes getting a kid to bed easier (though not a guarantee). Having a set of things that you do every night tells your body that it is time to go to bed.

May 28, 2015 7:10 PM

Before the chronic pain got really bad, my parents would say "you have to go to bed at 9, but you can get up as early as you want" so I got up at 5 am every morning. I would turn on some music, and dance. I really loved that part of the morning.

May 31, 2015 7:18 AM

You could try tart chetry juice and ask to take melatonin (my dose is 4-6mg but it depends on your weight, sex etc. And is only licenced to 2mgs)

Jun 01, 2015 10:57 AM

Do yoga/stretching before I go to bed and most of time it helps.

Jun 03, 2015 4:44 AM

What is Jacobsins progressive muscle relaxation technique?

Jun 03, 2015 9:09 AM

The only thing that I've really found that works for me is self hypnosis and taking a 1/2 dose of phenergan before going to bed. Sometimes I find that it's not quite enough but it does help

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