Throughout my journey with pain I have experienced difficulties with sleep.  For many years I was experiencing quite intense back pain alongside the sciatic neuropathic pain in my leg and foot.  Most of my pain now is neuropathic but my back is not symptom free.  I find that my neuropathic pain is affected by what I do and is usually worse in the evening.  I can be woken up with severe bouts of neuropathic pain in the night, and I find that I can experience quite severe pain around the time I go to bed, and that is on top of the ‘normal’ pain I experience every day.  Pain quite often has an impact on my ability to go to sleep and can disturb my sleep.  The fear of waking up in the night with severe pain has a psychological impact too!

 

There is no doubt in my mind that I experience a viscious circle with pain and sleep.  If I don’t get much sleep then the next day I am likely to experience more pain.  If I am experiencing more pain in the day and evening then the harder it is for me to get to sleep and the more likely it is that I experience pain during the night.  And so it goes on.

 

I think it was maybe five years into my pain journey before I realised that I could address this viscious circle and improve both my pain and my wellbeing by improving my sleep.  I don’t remember getting much clinicial support in this, instead I spent time scouring the Internet to learn as much as I could.  If you are reading this then I am guessing you are doing the same. 

 

The basis of the changes I made was to improve my ‘sleep hygiene’.  I personally think ‘sleep hygiene’ is a very strange term, but seems to be the one most commonly used.  Good ‘sleep hygiene’ is simply about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night.  It is about optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines in order to get the best sleep possible. I didn’t find improving my ‘sleep hygiene’ was a quick process, it probably took me about six months to work my way through it, and I have had to continue implementing the basic principles (at least the ones that work for me) even now.  I have found though that improving my sleep has had a really positive impact on improving my pain and I would definitely recommend giving it a try.

 

I hope you will find the resources that I have provided links to on this page useful in your endeavours to improve your sleep, thereby improving your pain and general wellbeing. 

Sleep videos

12 rules of healthy sleep

Click on the pictures to learn more about each strand

1. Embrace the 'new you'

2. Understand pain

3. Understand YOUR pain

4. Know your pain triggers

5. Make plans, set goals

6. Pace yourself

7. Track your progress

8. Improve your sleep

9. Manage health conditions

10. Move and exercise

11. Improve your nutrition

12. Support your mental health

13. Relax and be mindful

14. Do things you enjoy

15. Attend to life stressors

16. Access clinician support

17. Ask for, and accept help

18. Help others understand

19. Review medications

20. Make adaptations, use aids

21. Return to work / education

22. Engage and socialise

23. Volunteer / help others

24. Explore resources

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