Managing Pain and Sleep - Fort Lee Physical Therapy - Fort Lee, NJ
Pain and sleep
Hyun J. (June) Park,  PT, DPT, CIDN

Hyun J. (June) Park, PT, DPT, CIDN

Dr Hyun Park graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She is certified in dry needling by the Integrative Dry Needling Institute and a member of the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association).

Managing Pain and Sleep

We’ve all been told that lack of sleep could mean your health is suffering. But what if your current pain causes lack of sleep? What can you do when pain keeps you up all night?

Having issues falling or staying asleep can be a pain, literally. Chronic pain can leave you tossing and turning all night. What’s worse is you can even wake up in more pain than you began with.

When your body is uncomfortable, it can make your mind more alert and cause you to focus on the pain, which makes it harder to relax and drift off to dreamland.
Psychologists have found that the more one fixates on sleep, the harder it becomes as well, which could further contribute to insomnia.

If you find that pain is keeping you up at night, there are a few things you can do to get comfortable and get some rest.

Managing Pain

Consulting with a Doctor and/or a Physical Therapist will always be the wise and best decision. If you have chronic or severe pain, you should always consult with your doctor or health professional first. They can identify any underlying conditions and find the best options for treating your specific situation.

Over-the-counter solutions. If you don’t think your pain is severe enough to seek out a doctor, OTC medications could provide some short-term relief.

Flat isn’t always best. With some conditions, sleeping flat may be uncomfortable. For example, the Mayo Clinic suggests acid reflux can be eased by elevating your upper body, and lower back pain may be reduced by elevating your knees. Use wedge pillows, towels, or an adjustable bed to achieve a position that works for you.

Stretching and strengthening exercises might do the trick. Some types of pain may be eased by stretching out tight muscles or strengthening weak ones. There are quite a few good guides online for back pain stretches, for example. Your doctor can tell you if this is a good option for your situation and give guidance on specific stretches to include.

Prioritize healthy sleep habits. Since sleep plays a role in pain management, it should become a top priority in your schedule. Banish bad habits like electronics in the bedroom and inconsistent sleeping hours.

Improving Sleep

Plan to get a full eight hours of sleep. We’ve all heard about this a million times but this one really does the trick. A full 8-hour sleep can do so much for our body. Allow yourself enough time in the day to get adequate rest, including time to relax and prepare for sleep and enough time to fall asleep so you aren’t worrying about the clock.

Use comfortable mattresses. A good night sleep won’t be complete with a comfy mattress that supports your body. If you awake with painful pressure points or back pain, your mattress may be a cause especially if it’s over eight years old. The right bed is one that supports your back’s natural alignment while also cushioning pressure points.

NO stimulants in the afternoon. Coffee? Soda? Chocolates? Avoid those for a while ‘coz caffeine can have a lasting effect on alertness.

Eat a balanced diet. Several vitamins and minerals play a role in rest. Eat a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, complex carbs, and lean proteins.

Start a good night routine. Set the mood for sleep by establishing a wind-down routine with things that make you relax. This could include a warm bath, gentle stretching, reading, or any other low-stimulation activity that clears your mind.

Keep regular hours. Going to bed and waking at the same time every day, even on the weekends, can help normalize sleep patterns and improve your rest.

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