Get Better Sleep, Reduce Chronic Pain

chronic pain-better sleep hygiene

Yes, getting good quality sleep is important!

Sleep is a natural process when we rest and repair ourselves. In fact, a minimum amount of sleep is needed for survival. In addition, we need larger minimum amount of sleep to be at our best.

Ideally, we don’t need to do anything about sleep. We get tired, we go to bed, sleep all night and wake up the next day feel refreshed.

Sadly, sleep often doesn’t go the way we expect. Often, we may be tired when shouldn’t be and unable to fall asleep when we go to bed. Sometimes, we may not sleep through the night. Or, we may sleep enough hours, but not get enough deep sleep. Finally, when we wake up in the morning, for some of us, that is one of the worst times of the day. Now, everything hurts and it takes a significant amount of time to “warm up” and feel better.

First, to get better sleep, we need to do is regulate our schedule.

Set a time to go to bed and get up and stick with it. If you can, the includes weekends.

Also, eating regular meals at consistent times help regulate our systems.

In addition, don’t nap during the day and get adequate sunlight. This helps set your body clock properly.

Avoid habits that interefere with good quality sleep. Make some new good habits. You’ll sleep better!

First, to get better sleep, we need to do is regulate our schedule. Set a time to go to bed and get up and stick with it – even on weekends, if you can. In addition, don’t nap during the day and get adequate sunlight. This helps set your body clock properly.

Avoid habits that interefere with good quality sleep.

Generally, good sleep hygiene is common sense. Most of us already know what do to. But, changing major lifestyle habits is hard. When we realize how far off we’ve gotten from good sleep it can be discouraging.

In that case, consider small steps. Reorganize your bedroom a bit. Focus on reducing just one negative habit and replacing it with one better one.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. One step at a time…

Sleep Posture

chronic pain-better sleep positions

Of course, just as when we are awake, some postures are more likely to cause myofacial problems.

Do you sleep on your back, side or stomach? Maybe half-side, half-stomach? But, if on your side, do you curl up? Generally, sleeping flat on your back with little or no pillow is considered natural and ideal.

In fact, this is how infants naturally sleep. However, as older adults, we may find that sleeping on our backs can aggravate low back pain. Also, we are more likely to experience sleep apnea on our back.

So, for for various reasons some of us sleep on our side or stomach. Unfortunately, when we sleep on our stomach our head and neck are turned to one side. Obviously, this causes problems with muscles in head, neck, shoulders and arms.

Sleeping on your stomach is bad. Period.

Often, side sleeping is a great compromise for many people. However, side sleepers need to pay more attention to pillows than people sleeping in other positions. Also, notice the difference for you between ‘half-stomach/half-side” and being purely on your side. True side sleeping means you are laying on your arm OR that you tend to let your shoulder round in. Pillows can help with this.

Most of us sleep with too many pillows, not enough pillows or the wrong kind of pillows. And, this is potent factor is in perpetuating myofascial pain.

Back Sleepers

We recommend a single, very thin pillow under your head. In addition, if you experience low back pain when laying on your back, you may find that bolster under your knees helps. Of course, this could be another ordinary pillow, but a good bolster is round, thick enough and will hold its shape all night.

Side Sleepers

First, we recommend a thick pillow at the head. If you wake up with a hand or arm tucked under your head, that is your body telling you that your pillow is too thin! Side sleeper pillows are either thick and firm OR they have fill that can be positioned as you want it and will mostly keep its shape during sleep.

Next, let’s think about your arms. Naturally, the arm you are sleeping on needs to be accomodated. Try placing a thin pillow under your rib cage. This creates a “slot” for this arm and shoulder.  In addition, your upper arm should rest on a thick, firm pillow or bolster. As much as you love your partner, we all need to find a sleeping position that works for us on our own.

Finally, consider your legs. Unfortunately, flexing the hips and/or knees and curling up close to a fetal position is hard on our hip flexors and hamstrings. Try to avoid this. A thick, firm pillow or bolster should be used in between the lower legs. Remember, the idea is to keep your knees and ankles about the same distance apart as your hips.

Avoid foam…

First, we do not recommend foam pillows of any type. Even if you are happy with your foam mattress, we don’t recommend foam pillows. They do not maintain their thickness. In addition, they ‘jiggle’ which is not good for your neck. Of course, it you have any concerns about the foam material itself, you don’t want it near your nose and mouth all night. Besides, there are a variety of other materials that are better for conventional head pillows.

Next, there are a variety of side sleeper pillows in various shapes, including ‘L’ and ‘J’ shaped. For those who go back and forth between back and side sleeping, consider the “Tri-Core” pillow or similar.

Basically, thick pillows and bolsters used to support your limbs need to keep their shape all night. They should be made with dense cotton stuffing or similar.

Feet and Ankles

Sometimes, we need to pay attention to foot and ankle positioning at night. For instance, if we have myofascial issues in the calf, we want to avoid pointing out toes. So, back sleepers probably want to use a bolster of some type to help keep their ankles from drooping at night.

In addition, this means that we might not want heavy covers or sheets tucked in at the foot of the bed. They will weigh down our toes and point our feet and ankles.

Sleep Hygiene

chronic pain-better sleep hygiene

When we are in chronic pain-better sleep is more important than ever. There are many things we commonly eat, drink and imbibe in the evenings that can interfere with your sleep. These are common recommendations for good sleep hygiene.1

Substances

  • Caffeine – Some people find that it affects them so strongly that coffee, tea, colas or energy drinks after noon can affect sleep.
  • Alcohol – Although alcohol is a depressant, and too much will cause you to pass out, alcohol interferes with your sleep architecture. If you enough, but still feel tired in the morning, consider avoiding alc0hol for 3-4 hours before you go to bed.
  • Muscle relaxers, opiates, marijuana (w/THC) – Our advice is similar to alcohol. All are best avoided later in the evening. CBD products may be a different story.
  • Liquids – It seems obvious right? We knew this as small children. If you consume significant amounts of liquid before bed, it is much more likely that you will need to get up at night to use the bathroom.

Other Factors

  • Blue light – Electronic screens from phones to computers to TVs emit a large amount of blue light that can interfere with sleep. Avoid them for as long as possible before sleep.
  • Stress – Getting mentally or emotionally involved in something significant can be stressful. Stress increases cortisol levels. However, cortisol promotes daytime energy and interferes with sleep.
  • Exercise – Regular aerobic exercise is good in many ways, including for promoting sleep. However, most of us sleep better if we avoid vigorous exercise in the hours immediately before bed.

If you are already avoiding liquids and getting up at night purely to use the bathroom, this is NOT normal. Men should see a urologist about prostate and/or bladder issues.  Both men and women should consider gentle self-care for their pelvic floor. Some pelvic floor issues can be treated externally. Internal therapy for pelvic floor issues is controversial and outside of the scope our practice.

If are able, our bedrooms should be for sleeping only. Our bodies and brains learn what to expect based on what we do and where we do it. If we avoid eating, working, studying and watching TV in the bedroom, it helps to program our system correctly.

We understand biologically that when we go to bed and turn out the lights, it is time for sleep. Instead, if we frequently go to bed, turn out the lights and turn on the TV, we have sent a confusing message to our brain.

Temperature

The temperature of your bedroom under your covers and pajamas is important. If it is already bedtime and we are laying down with the lights out, the next cue that our bodies use is temperature. Cooler temperatures encourage sleep. If you wear pajamas make sure you are not too warm.

Your head, hands and feet are all powerful radiators. If you have trouble falling asleep make sure the room is cool (65-70F), you are not wearing socks, your hands are outside of your covers and your head is uncovered. Maintain adequate humidity in the winter (above 25%).

Avoid drafts, especially on your head and neck. This can activate myofascial trigger points in your neck. Do not make the room too cool. If you are cold at night you are more likely to curl up in a fetal position.

Other Conditions In Your Bedroom

If you have blinds or curtains, use them. Keep your bedroom dark when you are sleeping. Try not to have mirrors positioned that can reflect light on you while you sleep. Avoid flashing lights. Clock radios and other appliances with blue lights can especially troublesome.

Couples

Couples need to work out how to handle schedules that are not aligned. If one of you is having sleeping problems, snoring or otherwise disturbing the other, it may require separate sleeping arrangements for a short while.

Some medications that you are taking may interefere with the amount your sleep. Instead, some can make your sleepy but interfere with the quality of your sleep. Be aware of these effects and discuss them with your doctor.

Medications to promote sleep generally fall into two broad categories.

Medications To Fall Asleep

Melatonin – For example, melatonin is a popular, OTC product that helps us fall asleep. Melatonin is actually a naturally occuring hormone in our body that sends a signal to our brain that it is time for sleep. As we sleep, we use up our melatonin and start making cortisol. When we wake up, our melatonin level should be low and our cortisol level high. This gives us the energy to get through the day. By evening, our cortisol level should be dropping and our melatonin level increasing. The exposure of our eyes to light is one of the ways we make melatonin. If we don’t get enough daylight or our schedule is disrupted by shift work, melatonin 30 minutes before bed might help. We also make less melatonin as we age.

Other sleeping aids, from Sominex to Ambien use different mechanisms to help us fall asleep. Like melatonin, they do not help us STAY asleep.

Medications To Stay Asleep

There are various prescription medications to promote deeper sleep. Consult with your physician for more details.

One of the most commonly prescribed is trazodone. Originally developed as an anti-depressant, small doses of trazodone help some people sleep better. Often, it is prescribed for chronic pain patients. Other types of anti-depressants have also been used to improve sleep.

Pain at night can wake you up. For this reason, muscle relaxants and opiate pain medications may be prescribed before bed. However, these medications may interfere with your sleep architecture. Discuss with your doctor what the best time is for you to take these medications.

Good Sleep Matters!

Professional Treatment With Us

Janet was great. FANTASTIC person who knew how to treat and deal with my conditions. Very informative. Finally, someone who knew what I was talking about.

Shilo C.
Really Good.
Gini O.

Interesting, and helpful for my IT band and hip.

Osiris P.

My experience was wonderful. Janet was very kind and attentive. I felt great after my session and would recommend to try it out.

Carol M.

The lady that assisted me was awesome! I suffer from fibromyalgia and when I left I felt like a brand new person! I plan to return when I get time!

Pamala M.

Janet was great – knowledgeable and she found all my “hot spots.”

Libbey P.

Seriously, if you are looking for massage therapy that actually does your body good–that changes its function for the better and actually makes pain go away–then this is the place you need to come. Not Massage Envy. Not a chiropractor. You need trigger point from knowledgeable experts in the craft.

Sara B

If your have pain in any part of your body this is the place to go. It focuses on the muscles where the pain is. You will feel like a new person. Awesome, will be returning. Thanks, nice friendly and attentive.

June D.
Amazing!!!
Maria S.

I felt so much better after my appointment. Thank you, and thanks for the self care tips!

Margie K.

Experienced therapist. Feel great after appointment…

Yuliya C.

Highly recommended!

Stephanie Y.

What a great experience. The provider was able to recommend things I can do to improve my pain. Address issues I didn’t even share with her that she was able to tell just by her exam and treating me for what i went for. Will be back. Feeling grateful.

Gayle

I spent so much money on chiropractors. This is much better. Everybody should try it out.

Polina D.

Beautiful, relaxing setting. Therapist was knowledgable and professional. I’ll be going back. Thank you.

Jo Ann B.

Janet is very informative. I loved that she explained which muscles/groups she was working on. I learned a lot about my posture and why some of my muscles are not activating. Also, she provided me with a list of considerations and excercises to improve my posture. I will be back!

Lauren C.

Janet has a unique gift and talent in trigger point therapy. I’m definitely seeing her again!

Jan S.

What About My Pain?

Clearly, everyone is different. Many of us have additional challenges and complications. Naturally, we tailor our treatment plans to the individual. However, there are common foundations in this work with everyone.

Fortunately, if you are having similar issues, you may find that a just few treatment sessions helps! We will identify and treat root causes of your individual case.

What About Me?

Clearly, everyone is different. Many of us have additional challenges and complications. Naturally, we tailor our treatment plans to the individual. However, there are common foundations in this work with everyone.

Naturally we are licensed professionals. In addition, we all have additional training and certifications in advanced techniques. For instance, this includes trigger point therapy, fascial stretching, neuromuscular and movement therapy. Also we offer kinesio taping, myofascial release, cupping, acoustic compression, self-care classes and more. In fact, we often combine several of these techniques into a single session..

Of course, no one wants chronic pain! Fortunately,  can work together with you to help sort out the issues.

Click here or all us at 630-858-0000 today to make an appointment!
Note, if you are reading from a pdf or printout, you will find links and videos at:  WestSubPainRelief.com

Also, you can also take a picture of this QR code with a phone. Then, you can share it or view the entire article with links and videos:

Note, if you reading from a pdf or printout, you will find links and videos at:  https://WestSubPainRelief.com/chronic-pain-better-sleep-now

Also, take a picture of this QR code with your phone and you can view the article with links and videos:
Print Friendly, PDF & Email