Being able to sleep properly with chronic pain always seems to be a double-edged sword: the pain makes it difficult to sleep but sleep deprivation makes it hard for the body to repair itself.
Eat less, more often:
In terms of eating habits, one of the top problems remains eating too much before bed, risking indigestion and bloating which makes sleeping uncomfortable and hard to achieve. Make sure you eat smaller quantities of food more often by perhaps eating small meals 5 times a day as opposed to large, hard to digest meals 3 times a day.
The ability to manage your days well has proven to have a direct correlation with how much you can improve the quality of your night’s sleep.
Meditation and relaxation can considerably help you decrease stress as well as anxiety levels and help you sleep better. Remember that the top cause for not being able to sleep is to worry about it.
Top Tip From Fibro Flare Editor Beth Urmston: Meditation/visualisation, can be a good way to relax and ease you into sleep. It can take several weeks of practice before you can send yourself into a deep ‘trance like’ state. However it is definitely worth persevering.
Start practicing for just 2 minutes, switch off your mind to everything going on around you, focus on a wall or the view out of a window, or close your eyes and imagine clouds floating past slowly. Listen to your breathing and practice taking slightly deeper breaths. Hold for a count of 3 and release slowly counting to 5.
Increase this every couple of days, let your thoughts wander to clouds, seaside, mountain range, waterfall, garden of flowers – a place where you feel really relaxed and at peace. Breathing in slowly, building up to a count of 7 and hold for a count of 5, then release very slowly, aiming for a count of 11.
Make sure you stay warm: Cold conditions might be playing a role when it comes to pain and fatigue, so keeping warm before bed by having a hot shower or bath should help you relax while helping a little with the pain. However, remember that your bedroom temperature should remain at 21C maximum and that having a bedroom which is too hot will cause you to dehydrate, wake up and stop you from getting into deep sleep.
Don’t use all your energy at once: When it comes to chronic pain, on a good day, you will want to do EVERYTHING. The problem is, your body will end up saturating quicker than you think and it will take you longer to recover. When doing an activity, make sure you absolutely want to do it. Life is about enjoying the things that YOU want to do and not ever feel you have to push yourself too much because you are scared of letting people down. In between activities, make sure you give yourself a bit of recovery time, not only to rest but also to stop and think: “Is my next task REALLY essential?”
Top Tip from February Stars blogger Donna Grant: Reducing stress and staying calm and relaxed throughout the day is important as raised cortisol levels keep the brain alert and make sleep more difficult. Deep breathing exercises and meditation are particularly helpful.
Make sure your room is tidy: Even the messiest, most creative people simply cannot truly relax in an environment where the floor is covered in clothes, accessories, books or drawings. The more you can potentially see and focus on, the more your mind will be thinking, questioning, remembering and getting distracted from its main task: getting to sleep! This of course, goes with getting rid of other distractive devices such as TV, laptops, phones, tablets and potentially your pets.
Top Tip from Donna: It is also important that your room is as dark as possible, as even the smallest amount of light can be disruptive to sleep. Invest in blackout curtains and remove any clocks with LED lights.
Finally, make sure you buy the best possible mattress: falling into a deep sleep in a comfortable bed which supports your body properly, is much more attainable than trying to fall asleep on a bad quality mattress.
Top tip from Beth: To the question, “Does it matter what your mattress is like when you have constant, chronic pain?” The answer is: most definitely yes. It is possibly even more important if you want to be able to manage that pain.