As often happens to me when I write this blog, I decided to write this particular post based upon something I’ve been thinking about more frequently over the past few days. Yesterday (Sunday), I worked at 13 hour shift at work. Not on purpose. I was scheduled for 11 hours due to a meeting, and then I had a customer stay a few hours past close as I tried to help her out. The result? My perpetual exhaustion. So, this morning, as I woke up feeling almost as tired as I did last night, I figured now would be as good a time as any to talk about sleep and chronic pain.
Good morning from me and Spike.
As most chronic pain warriors will know, the worse your sleep was the night before, the worse your pain will be the next day. If you don’t get enough, or it’s just not a good sleep , pain increases. I was reading a few articles on sleep and it’s relation to pain, so this isn’t just something I’ve experienced. Not that I’m surprised since all my heath care professionals always ask me about my sleep. I’m going to break the rest of this post into two parts. First, how to get enough sleep, and second, how to get a good sleep.
Image from: http://www.nofructose.com/health-issues/sleep/
Getting enough sleep, for me at least, involves a combination of planning, and listening to my body. Working in retail, I end up with a lot of shifts, which can put a damper on my sleep. Usually I’m ready for bed anywhere between 9 and 10pm. A closing shift at work means I’m there until 9:30 and with my commute (which is a bit easier at night), home by 10. So bedtime is closer to 10:30. Doesn’t seem that bad but ends up being tough. I usually get up around 6 so I can workout and write before work. I definitely need 8 hours of sleep (sometimes more) in order to feel good the next day. Without it, more pain. What I’ve been able to do (thanks to have wonderful bosses) is work it out so that I only close once per week. It’s better for my well-being, and as a result, I’m able to perform at a higher potential while at my job. Win-win. What about social life? I usually only stay out late (past 10) if I don’t work the next day. Even if my close is the next day, I tend not to stay out later than 10, maybe 10:30. If i do make the occasional choice to, I know I’ll have to live with the consequences. There may be a bit of sacrifice here, but my friends tend to be understanding, and any dates I go on will just have to suck it up.
Image from: http://www.ba-bamail.com/content.aspx?emailid=21175
Getting a good sleep tends to be a bit harder. I usually end up waking up a few times during the night for a multitude of reasons. I have to pee, I hear something, I’m physically uncomfortable (often), I’m in pain, I have anxiety (not too bad at the moment). Sleeping through the entire night is tough. I love baths, and I find a hot bath right before bed tends to help with the initial falling asleep. Usually the best way for me to stay asleep is to have some marijuana right before bed (see post on medical marijuana for more details). This probably isn’t the only way to get a good sleep, but it’s the way I’ve found works best for me. I’d be excited to hear a few other (non-medicinal) suggestions on this though. Pain is difficult to ignore, and therefore, staying asleep while you’re in pain can be a huge struggle. Pain plus night plus sleeping alone (I mean yes I have my dog and some people have partners but still) is never a good combo.
Just remember, sleep is important when dealing with chronic pain. So, make sure you are doing what you can to get the best (and longest) sleep possible. Work with your health care practitioners (especially your naturopath, if you have one) to find a solution that works for you!