Had A Rubbish Night Of Sleep?
Hi, I’m Tracy the Osteo and I help people in pain.
Very often, people in pain don’t sleep well. It’s a common problem, especially for those with back, neck and shoulder pain. It’s nearly universal in my frozen shoulder clinic. It seems like common sense that pain can make sleep challenging or impossible, but did you know that loss of sleep can make you more susceptible to pain?
Chronic sleep loss creates changes in the systems responsible for regulating pain perception and sensitivity, typically in a way that can make you more sensitive to pain. Even a history of being a poor sleeper can affect the way your body responds to pain and researchers are starting to look at chronic sleep loss as a predictor of developing worse pain.
It's a vicious circle - pain can cause sleep loss and sleep loss can make pain worse.
If you've ever lost sleep for an extended period because of pain, or for any other reason, you know how horrible it is. Lack of quality sleep can significantly affect your mental health, physical health, and your pain. About 35% of people don't feel they get enough sleep, and so the scale of these problems is huge.
If you suffer from chronic sleep loss for a reason you can’t explain (ie, you have small children!!), you should get checked out to make sure a medical condition is not causing your sleep trouble. If you don’t have a medical condition, try the simple strategies below to improve your sleep. If you still struggle, see someone for help. Improving your sleep will improve your quality of life tremendously:
1. Establish a regular sleep and waking time. Don’t let your weekends slide too far.
2. If you are a napper, don’t indulge in more than 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
3. Avoid alcohol for 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
4. Avoid caffeine for 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, sweets etc.
5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is fine and if it’s protein it might help keep you from waking at night.
6. Regular exercise can help you sleep better - but not right before bed.
7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding that relaxes you in it’s colours and patterns.
8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
9. Block out distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible. Use a sleep app that creates white noise or soothing sleep noises.
10. Reserve your bed for sleep and intimacy, and avoid using your bedroom for work or recreation.
11. Remove your TV or Computer from your bedroom. And - as tempting as it is for us all - don’t keep your mobile phone next to your bed. Turn on the warm light setting 3 hours before bedtime.
Tracy Hannigan, Osteopath