Improving Your Sleep
Everybody knows what it feels like to be tired when you haven’t had a good night's sleep. But have you noticed your pain levels when you’re sleep deprived? When you sleep poorly, your pain may be worse the next day. Read on to find out how a lack of sleep impacts your pain, and how you can maximize the quality of your sleep.
Sleep and Your Pain
Good sleep puts your body in “rest mode” so that you have the energy to think, move, and act the next day. When you aren’t able to rest, your brain and body let you know by making you more irritable and sensitive to discomfort.
Sleep is also a time for the body to heal, so when you miss out on sleep you miss an opportunity to reduce your pain intensity. Research shows that the less you sleep, the more intense your pain will be.
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
If you asked the people in your life how much sleep they need every night to feel rested, you’ll get many different answers. Six hours? Eight? The average adult benefits from about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, but every person is different.
You can figure it out with one simple rule: If you feel drowsy during the day, then you haven't had enough sleep. Pay extra attention to things that are supposed to get you energized — an important meeting, moving boxes or furniture, or picking up a child. Do you feel drowsy during these activities? Did you only get 5 hours of sleep the night before? Seven hours? Whatever the number, you might benefit from going to bed earlier to get more sleep. Below are some ways you can make sure you get as much sleep as you need.
Ways to Get Good Sleep
Pay attention to your sleep routine. Your body loves routine! First thing in the morning, you probably get out of bed, go to the bathroom, get breakfast ready, and run out the door. Setting regular bedtimes and wake times can help your body fall into a more natural sleeping routine. Schedule an eight hour block of sleep per night in order to maximize the time even if you haven’t built up to it yet.
Build in quiet time. If you’re having trouble with your sleep routine, try reserving 30 to 60 minutes of quiet time before your set bedtime. Choose some soothing activities that calm your mind and put you in a relaxing mood. Taking a warm shower, doing your Hinge Health stretches, or some relaxation breathing exercises are all great options for pre-bedtime activities.
Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bedtime. Research shows that caffeine disrupts sleep even when consumed up to 6 hours before bed. If you do drink caffeine, set a cutoff point in your day and stick to it.
Avoid napping. Napping during the day tells your body to sleep less at night, making it hard to fall asleep. Reserve sleep for bedtime.
No electronics. You might look at computer and phone screens all day, and then unwind with television when you get home. These devices are bright with unnatural light and teach your brain to stay awake when you’re in bed. They also make noise. Be sure to turn off anything that makes sounds that interrupt your sleep. The bed is for sleep and intimacy, so keep those devices away.
Be comfortable. You’ve spent your whole day going from one place to another, so bedtime is your time to settle in and be comfortable! Put on comfortable clothes, set your bedroom thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and use soft bedding to make your body feel good.
Assume the position. Get into a comfortable sleeping position to help cue your body that it’s time to rest.
A restful night’s sleep should be one of your top priorities for overcoming persistent discomfort. It’s not possible to reap the benefits of your exercise therapy and aerobic activity until you are regularly getting a full night’s sleep. Talk to your coach about setting up healthy goals and habits around sleep so you can better achieve a meaningful life without pain.
Sleep and pain are related. The less you sleep, the more intense your pain will be.
Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep, but everyone is different. If you feel drowsy during your daily activities, you probably have not had enough sleep.
You can improve your sleep quality by establishing a sleep routine, building in quiet time before bed, and avoiding caffeine, naps, and electronics.
Finan, P. H., Goodin, B. R., & Smith, M. T. (2014, December 1). The Association of Sleep and pain: An update and a path forward. The journal of pain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046588/