Living with Chronic Pain
Beating Insomnia with Chronic Pain
Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic pain also suffer from insomnia. It takes a multidisciplinary approach to with different medical specialists to treat both pain and insomnia. For example, certain pain medications can improve sleep while others disturb it. The first step to improving insomnia is to understand its cause.
For some people with chronic pain, insomnia may be caused by an inadequate bedtime routine. This may include using electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and TVs to help individuals fall asleep, which only make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ensuring a quiet environment and turning off all electrical devices two hours before bedtime can help improve the quality of sleep.
Because pain intensifies at night, it can become impossible to sleep. Some individuals may benefit from using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help them fall asleep at night. This includes a variety of methods to improve sleep and change negative thoughts to positive ones that promote sleep. Cognitive behavioral therapy is preferred over medications as it does not contain side effects that may be counterproductive to sleep.
The long-term goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help individuals control negative thoughts that keep them awake at night. Relaxation training is also helpful for individuals to reduce muscle tension and distract them from thoughts of pain. Techniques include guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing muscle relaxation exercises. Individuals are encouraged to participate in three to eight sessions with a trained behavioral therapist to become familiar with this form of treatment.
Along with reconstructive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques, individuals can follow these tips to create healthy sleep habits: