Sleeping With Chronic Pain

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • The causes of sleepless nights are numerous and varied, everything from noisy neighbors to stress to a sleep disorder. Another cause of sleep disruption is chronic pain.


    The list of diseases and disorders that can cause chronic pain is a long one. For the past month I've learned how difficult it is to sleep with pain that just won't quit. At the beginning of June I came down with a chest cold that turned into bronchitis.


    About the same time, I developed pain in my lower back. I thought I had sprained muscles from all the coughing I'd been doing. After several trips to the emergency room with tests for everything from urinary tract infection (UTI) to an ultrasound to check for kidney stones, an x-ray revealed several compressed discs in my lower spine, a result of the coughing and osteoporosis.

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    During that month I got little sleep. Every time I moved or turned over, the pain woke me up. No wonder people with chronic pain suffer from sleep deprivation. I still have the problem. I'm not sure there is a cure, but, with strong painkillers, at least I can sleep.


    Many things can cause disrupted sleep and sleep deprivation:

    • Sleep disorders - Sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, nightmares and night terrors.
    • Mental or Emotional problems - Stress, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and just plain old worry.
    • Outside interference - Loud traffic, noisy neighbors, a strange bed.

    Another reason some people find it difficult to sleep is the pain of injuries, and in particular from injuries of the back or neck. These injuries make it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to lie.


    Here are a few suggestions to make coping with the pain and disrupted sleep caused by these injuries a bit easier.


    • Take a hot bath before bedtime. Lie there, soak, and let the warmth and moisture soothe sore muscles.
    • A cup of warm milk just before retiring is relaxing.
    • Avoid alcohol, smoking and heavy meals within three hours of bedtime. Never use alcohol as a sleep inducer. It will disrupt your sleep later in the night.
    • If possible, get a bit of light exercise early in the afternoon, but avoid stimulating exercise near bedtime.
    • Experiment with relaxation tapes and meditation. Coax your body to relax.
    • Use pillows or mattresses designed to ease your injuries.

    Several companies manufacture mattresses and pillows made especially for people who suffer from back or neck injuries. Memory Foam Mattresses offer equally distributed support. It conforms to the shape of the body and is recommended by medical professionals and used by many sleep disorder centers. Memory also manufactures pillows.

    Another product, the Tempur-Pedic side pillow, offers relief for back, neck, or shoulder pain. Tempur-Pedic© with its exclusive viscoelastic construction responds to temperature, and therefore cradles the head and neck. The pillow is shaped to fit your body when you sleep on your side. It cradles the shoulders, neck and back and keeps your body in the correct alignment.

  • Not all pillows suit everyone. Make sure you have the right pillow for your personal condition and sleep posture. Some pillows are manufactured from very soft material, like down and feathers. Others are much firmer. Experiment with different firmness levels and sizes. Find a pillow that helps, not hinders, sleep.

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    These final items are manufactured by Goode Wraps Pain Management. As well as wraps for injured or aching ankles, wrists and knees, Goode Wraps offers a sleep shirt that helps reduce the pain in back and shoulders. These shirts are offered as well to ease the pain of fibromyalgia.


    Goode Wraps are elasticized cloth bands. Each of these is impregnated with a unique blend of natural rare-earth semiconductors. The semiconductors increase circulation to reduce stiffness and pain.

    Try some of these products. Perhaps you will find something to relieve the pain of your injuries and let you get the good night's sleep you need and deserve.

Published On: July 17, 2007