Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. During sleep our bodies work on resetting our internal systems and repairing and replacing cells. When we do not get adequate sleep, the result is injury or illness to those cells. Sleep deprivation can cause an increase in weight, increased pain and it can affect glucose and blood pressure. Lack of sleep can affect motor skills and cognitive skills, similar to drinking 3-4 alcoholic beverages.
Patients with chronic pain suffer the worst from sleep deprivation. In a study from the National Sleep Foundation, they reported that 66% of chronic pain sufferers have sleep deprivation compared to 15% of the general population. When a chronic pain patient goes to bed they do not have the distractions they had during the day. Their brains then turns its focus on the pain. It is suggested that a person gets 7-9 hours of sleep with several REM sleeps cycles. Chronic pain patients have interrupted sleep therefore a vicious cycle ensues of poor sleep, leading to more pain, leading to more restless sleep cycles.
Adopting good sleeping habits may help patients with chronic pain as well as those who do not suffer from chronic pain. Going to bed and waking up at the same time is a start. Even on the weekends! Even if you go to bed a little late, you should try to wake up at the same time the next morning. Making sure your sleeping environment is dark, quiet and at a stable temperature(somewhere around 60-68 degrees). Eating a light snack of carbohydrates, protein and calcium can help promote a good night of sleep and help prevent nighttime hypoglycemia. Drinking caffeine or alcohol or eating a heavy meal before bed should be avoided. Light exercises 4-5 hours prior to going to bed can help sleep quality. And lastly, powering down an hour or so before bed. Even though some e-readers have adopted features to help with reading at night, you may want to try a regular paperback book a few nights in a row to see if sleep is improved. You need this hour prior to sleep to decrease light exposure to allow the body to create melatonin which plays a key role in inducing sleep.
Taking these few steps to allow for a good nights sleep can help the body repair itself and promote healing to help decrease pain in people with acute or chronic pain. A good nights sleep allows us to have increased energy and to make healthier decisions to allow us to stay active and eat well so we sleep well! Sleep tight all!!
Vivian Plummer Benzick, LPTA, CSYI
Physical Therapist Assistant
Zimmerman Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy Consultants Inc. March 24th, 2015
Posted In: General