Sleep seams have eluded me the last couple of nights, or if I have slept, it hasn’t been very solid. I hate that my chronic pain has made sleeping so difficult. I have never been a great sleeper, just like my mom, and brothers. But its been a lot worse after my first back surgery, and worsens after each surgery thereafter.
Sleep has always been second to my mind at night. My mind, can at times run like its is a car that never will run out of gas. And the crazy things that keep me awake, make me laugh at times. Like I’m thinking about whether Thursday or Friday trash days and then I’ll have to keep thinking about if the trash is out or should I go check at 2:00 am or just wait till the morning. It’s never a simple conversation that I am having with myself or else sleep would be a lot easier I assume.
Add in the chronic pain I have in my back and sleep is a limited item in my life. Two nights ago, I didn’t sleep at all. I watched my husband sleep and heard the dog snore but there wasn’t a single moment in my night that my brain went into REM sleep. I know that usually I have non-sleep nights when I have a lot on my mind, and I have a lot on my mind right now. Or is the fact that my back has been bothering me a lot this week? It doesn’t help that every time I lay on our bed, the mattress is different from the night before. It is supposed to be the kind that is good for back but it doesn’t fail that every morning, my husband and I wake sore and unrested. So that is part of it but is it normal to have insomnia with chronic pain? I did some research today and its interesting what I found.
Charles Bae, MD, a neurologist in the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, puts it this way: “Pain can be the main reason that someone wakes up multiple times a night, and this results in a decrease in sleep quantity and quality, and on the flip side, sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold and pain tolerance and make existing pain feel worse.”
How do you deal with the chronic pain and insomnia? Dr Bae suggests that you figure out which is “came first, the chicken or the egg”. He says that figuring that out and start by treating that and you might find that it’s not just pain that is interfering with your sleep. He states that some people find they have a sleep problem such as sleep apnea and treating that might make your pain somewhat less. Another doctor agrees and he states
People in pain don’t sleep, and people who sleep have less pain,” agrees Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona.
An interesting fact is about two-thirds of patients with chronic pain conditions suffer from sleep disorders. That’s a huge amount of chronic pain patients. So what is there to do to help the sleep issue. First, many reports that I read all said that thinking of bed time as a routine may help. Most people will eliminate distractions in order to relax and fall asleep, including things such as turning off lights, making it quiet and getting comfortable. Another way to treat insomnia is using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) which includes a number of strategies designed to improve sleep quality and help people change thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep. This treatment is beginning to be more preferred than medications. Many pain patients are already on some pain medications so adding a sleep aid is not always a good thing.
The last way of treatment that I read about is relaxations therapy. This treatment I know first hand and was taught to me a few years ago. Probably, if I used this more, I would sleep better. Maybe that will be my next month’s tracking is how many nights I used this treatment and how many nights I slept. Using this techniques includes progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and meditation. Its pretty easy and if anyone is wondering step by step how to do it, I can do a post about it.
Sleep is one of the most important things our body needs. And already suffering from chronic pain, your body will need more and have it more consistent. I’m going to try to get some well deserved sleep. Hopefully any and all this info will help you. Slowly close your eyes and release all talk in your head, and start to count the sheep. 1 sheep, 2 sheep.