I have repeatedly read there are more chronic pain suffers (people who have endured pain for more than 3 months) than cancer survivors in the United States. That’s hard to believe since most of us know someone who is a cancer survivor. There are 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US, however there are 50 million chronic pain sufferers in the United States!
Pain is a key factor in the gap between the amount of sleep Americans say they need and the amount they’re getting. Those with chronic pain sleep an average of 42 minutes less than those who don’t have chronic pain and roughly 25% of them have been diagnosed by a physician with a sleep disorder. If someone experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, he or she is likely to experience more problems the next night and so on. It gets worse and worse every night. It is a vicious cycle, but one that can be beat.
Sleep hygiene is defined as what you can do in your evening routine to improve your sleep. This includes what you eat, when you exercise and your evening activities. These things effect your sleep hygiene.
Here are some tips for people with chronic pain:
- Stop or limit caffeine consumption.
- Limited alcohol intake, especially in the evening.
- Limit exercise after 8PM
- Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
- Use of pain killers and/or sleeping pills may be effective but can be addicting and should only be used under the supervision of a physician. Ask your physician about non addicting alternatives.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing.
- See a psychologist who specializes in sleep hygiene.
Improving your sleep hygiene will improve your chronic pain.