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Your body needs to calm down in order to sleep.
To fall asleep, your nervous system has to calm down. If you are experiencing chronic pain, you have a much more active nervous system. This can affect how quickly you fall asleep and how deep of a sleep you experience.
Healthy sleep comes in waves during the night. You cycle through lighter stages, then go into deeper stages of sleep, then back to lighter stages and finally into REM sleep. This cycle repeats a few times during the night.
Usually, after the REM stage, you wake up. You might roll over and stay asleep without realizing it. When you are in pain, you most likely wake up and notice your pain. This will result in increased activity in your nervous system and you need it to calm down all over again to fall back to sleep.
Sleep routines can decrease pain and help you fall asleep.
If you can initially fall asleep quickly when you have pain, many of your sleep strategies should work to help you get back to sleep when you wake up during the night. But if you have trouble falling asleep in the first place, a sleep routine can help calm your nervous system and put your body in a relaxed state that’s ready for rest.
- Go to bed around the same time every day.
- Get up at the same time every morning, even if you had a bad night’s sleep.
- Spend 30 minutes or more before bed doing the same thing, such as showering, reading a book or getting ready for the next day. This helps your body and mind learn to prepare for sleep and expect it.
- Try relaxation techniques before bed to help calm the nervous system.
- Go to bed when energy levels are lower. Be aware of the signs of sleepiness so you can get to bed at an optimal time for your body.
- Avoid heavy, sugary and fatty foods before bed. Stop drinking caffeine four hours before calling it a night.
- Do not exercise within two to three hours before bedtime. Exercise increases your heart rate and body temperature, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Reduce the light, noise and temperature in your bedroom. Your body sleeps better when it’s cooler and darkness increases your melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.