How To Sleep With Chronic Pain

Posted by Brenna Stillwell on

How To Sleep With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain and poor sleep often go in hand in hand; discomfort can keep you awake and poor sleep can worsen your pain. Yet, there’s nothing worse than tossing and turning all night. Luckily, whether it’s making some lifestyle changes or updating your sleeping habits, there are lots of ways to avoid frustration and make sure you’re getting some much-needed rest.

Manage your pain and stress

Controlling your pain is the first step toward a better night’s sleep. Whether it’s through medication, physical therapy, acupuncture or pain-relieving technology, find the most effective way to manage your chronic pain so it causes the least interruption to your sleep. Then, make sure you’re maintaining healthy stress levels. Often, pain, stress and lack of sleep all impact each other, and you end up with a restless night. Try meditating, bathing or using aromatherapy before getting into bed every night to control your stress levels and set yourself up for the best sleep possible.

Find the best sleeping position for your pain

  • Neck, shoulder or hip pain: Sleep curled on your side with a pillow between your knees. This will help align your spine and alleviate pressure from your stiff joints.
  • Lower back pain: Stay on your back with a pillow under your knees. This will support the spine’s natural curve and help your back and leg muscles relax.
  • Headaches: Lie on your back with your arms at your side. This prone position will maintain support for your head and prevent tension in the neck.
  • Knee pain: Lie in the fetal position with a thick pillow between your knees. This will cushion and relieve pressure from your joints.
  • Nerve pain: Wear a brace and sleep on your back with your arms at your sides. This should help avoid nerve pinching in the shoulder, arm and wrist, as well as legs.

Use need-specific bedding

Your bedding can make a big difference in your sleep quality, especially while living with chronic pain, so it should be updated to suit to your needs. If you will be sleeping on your back with headaches or lower back pain, you should be using a flat pillow to keep your neck in a neutral position and maintain your spine’s natural alignment. If your pain requires sleeping on your side instead, use a mattress made of adaptive foam to cushion your joints. Above all, make sure you’re using a platform bed for equally-distributed support.

Adopt healthy sleep habits

Lastly, make sure there are no unhealthy lifestyle choices hidden in your nightly routine that could interrupt your sleep. Naps and caffeine should be avoided within four hours of bedtime, and you should begin turning off electronics once the sun goes down. Similarly, wakeup times should be strict. Even if you lose an hour of sleep one night, it’s more important to wake up normally than to add on an extra hour. Otherwise, you could disturb your natural sleep rhythms and make it even harder to get to sleep the following night. Check out other sleep suggestions here.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re struggling to drift off. Remember: just a few updates can make a huge impact on your sleep quality and, ultimately, help you better manage your pain.


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