Pain management for better sleep.
You will need to work out if your lack of sleep is causing your pain? or if the pain is causing a lack of sleep? Then focus on whichever came first.
Not sleeping properly can not only magnify but sometimes even generate pain signals.
However, if you are one of those people who has either had a long term health issue causing you to find sleep difficult, broken and intermittent, Or, if you have had surgery, or any musculoskeletal, neurological or naturopathic pain signals that you’ve already probably been searching for an alternative to opiate based addictive pain medication, usually containing a form of codeine that can cause unpleasant physical dependency even sometimes from short and long-term use.
There are also other painkillers, often synthetic like oxycodone, and tramadol amongst others that can equally be fine for short-term use, but the body soon adapts to the presence of the substance and if one stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur. Often, apart from unwanted constipation, night sweats hot and cold, there must be a better and more natural non-addictive way to deal with pain. Also avoid paracetamol tablets with caffeine which reduce sleep ability and all nicotine products at night.
Here are a few of my suggestions to help reduce the need for powerful addictive pain drugs to achieve better sleep.
Firstly, here in the UK it’s possible to buy an over-the-counter product called Nuromol containing a blend of paracetamol and ibuprofen. Always read the label and follow the instructions as paracetamol can only be taken as directed, however, mixed with ibuprofen its effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Therefore taking these just before bed and having another dosage if required later on in the night by the bed with a glass of water can greatly help improve/ reduce pain signals that can make deep sleep elusive.
Secondly, one of the rules of the mind, is that what ever you focus your mind on it becomes magnified. As a sleepcoach, I train my clients to focus elsewhere, either the different parts of the body, the feeling of relaxation which also greatly reduces pain signals, as well as learning how to release tension with breath and then physically feeling the benefits can help greatly
Another rule of the mind, is that whatever you try not to think about, is what you actually think about. Understanding this simple truth, and instead focusing intensely on other things like perhaps your head on the pillow, how comfortable you can get in your bed, feeling increasingly more than thinking, shifting the attention off of the thought of pain signals, focusing on relaxing and mild discomfort until the non-addictive pain medication kicks in helps greatly.
There are obviously times when pain signals for some are so great that the quality of deep sleep seems almost impossible to achieve, however the discomfort from recent surgery, or recent injury, or digestive and inner organ problems, and so on make the acceptance of the pain, and a commitment to at least relax and achieve as much rest as possible even if sleep is almost impossible, will at least help to alleviate some of the horrific alarm signals that the sleep deprived suffer. Any relaxation, distraction from the discomfort, will make these usually challenging times more bearable until the short-term pain spike reduces.
Relaxation and acceptance are two of the most important keys to better sleep pain management, if not discomfort reduction and control. At my sleep clinic in central London, where I treat insomniacs, and all anxiety and pain related sleep problems this is the first thing I teach.
Sleep medications that can helpful include over-the-counter drugs that have a sedating effect, like antihistamines, or combination pain reliever and sleep aids, such as Paracetamol or Tylenol PM if in the US. Prescription sleep medications should only be for short term use. Always discuss pain and sleep medications with your doctor, MD, GP, or pharmacist.
Learn how to rest and to relax deeply, until good sleep becomes possible.
Remember that good sleep is a key to curing chronic pain.
As always wishing you better sleep,