When you’re in pain as the result of an injury or other condition, oftentimes the best remedy is to get plenty of rest and sleep. But sleeping through pain is easier said than done. Rolling over onto a painful back, leg, or arm can wake you up (and keep you up) in the middle of the night. More pain equals less sleep, and less sleep slows your recovery. It’s a vicious (dare I say painful) cycle.
But there are a steps you can take to help sleep soundly through the pain. Here are a few tips:
- Take your pain relief medications as directed, and right before bed if possible.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Coffee, soda, and energy drinks are jam packed with caffeine. They are designed to keep you awake and alert. This is great if you need a pick me up at work, but not when you’re trying to sleep. If you can’t cut out the caffeine completely, try to only drink it in the morning.
- Cut down alcohol consumption. Many people find that a “nightcap” helps put them to sleep. While it’s true that alcohol can induce drowsiness, the sugars in alcohol are more likely to wake your body up later in the night.
- Get into a sleep cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. This will help your body get into an internal rhythm or groove.
- Relax and avoid physical activity before bed. Exercising is a great way to reduce your pain, but exercising too late in the evening can keep you up and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain from an illness, or acute pain following an injury or surgery, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your overall health. Follow these tips and you’ll be off to dreamland in no time.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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