How can you sleep when you have pain? Sometimes pain keeps us awake, but we are also kept awake by our thoughts, worrying about the past and the future, negative feelings, and restlessness. It’s very common to spend more time resting or napping during the day because of pain and fatigue. That makes it harder to fall asleep at night.


Try to pay attention to how your daytime routine affects your sleep. One of the most effective ways to deal with insomnia, with or without pain, is to limit the amount of time spent in bed. This helps to consolidate your sleep to be more restorative with less time in bed. It’s hard to do because you’ll go to bed feeling very tired and you’ll get up before you want to! I know, ugh! But it works! Read “Goodnight Mind” by Colleen Carney and you’ll be convinced to give it a two-week trial. After that, anytime you start to have sleep difficulty again, you’ll go back to reducing your time spent in bed until you are sleeping well again.


Medications for sleep may help some people for a while, but they aren’t a long-term solution. This is. What if you wake up in the middle of the night and need to get up and move around to relieve stiffness and pain? If you can do that and still fall back to sleep easily when you feel ready, then this is okay. If you can’t fall back to sleep, then you will need to try reducing your time spent in bed.


What should you do when you get up? Find something quiet and relaxing to do so you don’t activate your brain too much. Using the computer or your phone can be too stimulating, and there is evidence that the blue light can shift your sleep patterns. Generally speaking, reading a book or magazine is okay. Maybe it’s a good time to practice meditation and focus on your breathing.

© 2018 by Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists


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