Self Help Sundays – Sleep, its a must!

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Sleeping, oh how I miss those days of sleeping like a baby.  I remember climbing into bed and falling asleep so easily and sleeping through the night, waking up in the morning refreshed.  If it sounds like you are reading some great novel, and reality is sleep has been a problem for a while,  then you know it’s time to seek help with the sleep issue. Sleep is  so important when you are dealing with chronic pain. And sleep is a must if you need your body to heal itself.

I have had sleep issues since I was in my early 20’s.  I can almost remember the exact day that it happened.  It felt like someone flipped a switch and my mind and body said no more to a good night sleep.  At first the doctors thought it had something to do with me just having insomnia, and I would outgrow it, and it would go away as fast as it came.  Unfortunately, that day never happened. And my sleeping issues got a lot worse when I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and had multiple back surgeries.  I’m now lucky if i get more than 5 hours a night and I don’t wake up in worse pain then when I went to bed. So what is there to do besides get use to the lack of sleep?

First and foremost, talk with your doctor/doctors about having the insomnia and make sure that there isn’t a medication that you are taking that might be causing the insomnia.  If your doctor doesn’t, then there are a list of things you can try to do at home to hopefully get yourself back to sleeping like a baby.

  1. Try to make sure that your pain is as close to under control as it can be.  Make sure that you are doing everything in your power to control your pain.  Take all your medicines on time and the ones that say take in the morning, do that!  I have a anti-depressant that I was talking before I would go to sleep.  When I told my doctor that sleeping was more difficult since starting the medication, she giggled and said that it was to be taken in the morning because for some reason, this medicine did that to most people.  There is a filler in it that was an equivalent to a few cup of coffee.  That explains why I feel jittery after I take it. It has helped me in the morning now that I am taking the medicine correctly.
  2. When talking to your doctor about having the insomnia, don’t be afraid to say that you would like to try a sleep aid.  There are many on the market now, so you should be able to try something to get back into the rhythm of sleeping. Most prescribed sleep aids, help to slow down the activity of the brain and allow you to fall asleep, safely.  But sleep aids aren’t meant for you to be on it for long-term, so know this is only a short-term solution.
  3. As hard as this one is for me, cut out the caffeine, is a really important step if you want to sleep good.  im sure by now everyone knows that caffeine will keep you up all night long. Found in coffee, tea, and some sodas, caffeine is a stimulant that can block sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain, keeping you feeling alert when that’s the last thing you want. Normally doctors say to cut out caffeine sometime in the late afternoon so its out of your system come bed time.
  4. Try and practice good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene means healthy habits that can help minimize sleep problems. For instance, cut out naps from your day. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. And some people find it beneficial to have a bedtime routine.  This would be something like every night you take a warm bath at a certain time, then eating a light snack and reading for a certain amount of time would all be a bedtime routine.
  5. Exercise regularly.  This one is almost a given but if you exercise four to eight hours before bed, studies show that this can help people with insomnia. Physical activity has been shown to reduce anxiety, which is one of the leading causes of insomnia. Take care of one problem, and it will take care of two.

Hopefully any or all these work and sleeping comes back to you.  One of the biggest I tell myself is not to worry and get myself even more anxious about not sleeping because in do time, your body won’t let you do anything but sleep. I know after a few day or a week of not sleeping, you are wondering if you will ever get into you sweet lumbar state again. And the answer is yes.  It’s a natural state that your body need so sooner or later, your body will go off into that wonderland of sleep. Let’s just hope it’s sooner than later!

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