The Chronic Pain VICIOUS Bad Sleep Cycle
Anyone who suffers from chronic pain knows how it can affect the quality of sleep. Often people find themselves in a vicious bad sleep cycle. That is when the pain makes their sleep worse, and rough nights make their pain worse. I've been there, and frankly it made me kind of desperate to improve my sleep. Sometimes I would wake up feeling like my body was on fire and that I hadn't slept a wink the whole night.
And the insomnia! Oh my. Feeling deathly tired but not able to fall asleep because of the pain is infuriating. When you have a disease, your body needs rest. But, like some cruel joke, you don't get that good, deep, REM sleep so it can repair itself. Often you start dreading bed time and the anxiety level rises at night, not helping the situation at all.
This can affect your performance at work or school. Not to mention your social life, parenting and most other aspects of your life.
Trying to explain this to people who don't suffer from chronic pain can be hard. Many of them want to understand but simply can't because they haven't gone through it. I know it's bad, but I sometimes throw snarky comments at my healthy husband when he tells me he didn't sleep well. This is after I lay awake next to him the whole night listening to him sleep, feeling the aches in my body. Thankfully it's usually just a moments weakness and frustration and I do apologize to him. I'm thankful that he's healthy because he helps me a lot and takes care of me when I have bad day. So, often.
What helps me the most is having a good routine before I go to bed. I try to stay away from the computer screen and TV at least 30 minutes before bed. Reading a book helps to reduce my anxiety and get that sleepy feeling. You see, I'm almost always tired, but rarely sleepy. Magnesium powder helps me fall asleep and if I'm in a lot of pain, a hot bath is nice, too. I've tried loads of drugs, but most of them just make me groggy the whole day after, not really worth taking if I want to function. I know people who find them helpful so I recommend speaking to a doctor about them. You never know, maybe you´ll find something that helps.
Of course I don't go to sleep without my Snoozle slide sheet, ever. My pain is mostly in my back and hips and the sheet helps minimize it when I need to move or switch sides. Sometimes I sleep with a pillow between my legs and I always try to keep the room as dark as possible. During the dark, Icelandic winters it's not a problem, but the 24/7 daylight during summer is hard to block.
Please know that you're not alone in your struggle to sleep with chronic pain. Feel free to leave a comment and tell other readers about your little tricks to get better sleep or ask for advice if you haven't found anything that helps yet.