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Sleep for Patients with Chronic Pain

Table of Contents

Man suffering from back pain while sitting on bed in room, closeup. Concept of sleep for patients with chronic pain.

When you are living with chronic pain that requires an opiate, it can sometimes be difficult to get enough sleep.  The pain can keep you from falling asleep, and this is properly termed insomnia.  However, that is not the only sleep disturbance that can cause you to suffer from daytime fatigue and confusion.
Some patients find that they are woken up in the middle of the night due to the pain.  Many find that they cannot get back to sleep because of their discomfort, and this leads to tiredness during the day.  Also, pain can keep you from getting what’s known as restorative sleep.  In this scenario, you do not have any trouble falling asleep and you stay asleep through the night.  Your body is unable to relax, though, because of the pain, and you never achieve the deep, slow wave sleep that is so important to functioning.  Treating sleep when you have chronic pain is of paramount importance to maintaining a good quality of life.

Addressing the Pain

One of the best ways to address sleep deprivation from chronic pain is to get the pain under control.  If you have developed a dependency on opiates and have gone through detoxification, this may seem like a challenge to you.  That is why aftercare is so important in your continuing recovery.  In recovery, you will meet with doctors who can help you manage your pain without opiates and help you get the sleep you need.
For instance, pain management doctors can prescribe for you other medications to control your pain, such as antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, which have shown promise in patients with chronic pain.  You may also be exposed to alternative medicine treatments that many use to control chronic pain.  For instance, meditation and yoga are just two of the therapies that can help you overcome your discomfort and get decent sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

One of the best ways to ensure you get enough sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene.  This means that you modify your behaviors to ensure that you can get to sleep.  One way to get better sleep is to only go to bed when you are feeling sleepy, and you should not lie in bed for any longer than 30 minutes trying to sleep.  If you can’t fall asleep in that time, you should get up and do a relaxing activity, such as reading, to help put you in the mind frame to fall asleep.
Scheduling is important, as well.  You should go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every morning.  Despite common belief, you cannot catch up on sleep by sleeping in on the weekends.  This will only serve to disrupt your sleep cycle.  In addition, you should avoid taking naps during the day because they will greatly hamper your attempts to sleep at night.  Use your bed only for sleep and sex, and try to make the room as restful a place as possible.  Decrease excess noise and light for the best chances of falling asleep.

Psychological Exercises for Improved Sleep

Since sleep requires relaxation and chronic pain tends to make patients tense, the best way to psychologically control pain is to distract the mind from the condition.  The easiest way to do this is through meditation and deep breathing, but exercises such as yoga and tai chi can help relax the mind, too.  Any activity that draws the attention away from the pain – and the need to sleep – is an activity that will help encourage restfulness.
An easy way to apply this idea to your current sleep schedule is to start with simple meditation.  Lie down in your bed, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in.  Notice how it whistles past your nose and how your chest expands.  Slowly let the breath out, and notice how your body seems to deflate.  Inhale again, and exhale.  This is known as following your breath.  Instead of focusing on the pain, you are training your mind to focus on the breathing, and this keeps you from experiencing the pain.  As you follow your breath, you will get distracted, sometimes by the pain.  Bring your attention back to the breath and follow it until you slip into relaxed, restful sleep.

Following the Waismann Method Detoxification Treatment, the physical dependency has been addressed, however getting your body to stabilize and adapt to normal habits takes a bit more time. At Domus Retreat, our aftercare program, our experts work with the patients on their own time to find their base line and normalize their biological clock and sleep patterns. Our post-detox sleep support includes individual therapy, round-the-clock care and monitoring, massage, pool/Jacuzzi, acupuncture, gym, yoga and other individualized services. The facility itself provides a serene and tranquil environment allowing for relaxation and recovery to be the patients focus. The services provided at Domus Retreat are a key support in guiding the patient back to an opiate free life.

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