To sleep, to dream, to rest—our bodies need all of these so much! Sadly, pain can keep us from getting the nice, restful sleep we all require. But did you know that low-quality sleep can also cause more pain? If you’re dealing with a lot of pain in your daily life, missing out on restful sleep when your head hits the pillow may be partially to blame.
What is quality sleep?
- Sleep that happens within 30 minutes of lying down
- You’ve slept for at least 85 percent of the time in bed
- You’ve woken up no more than once throughout the night
- You’re awake for no more than 20 minutes total through the night
Does Quality Sleep Help Deter Pain?
Quality sleep helps deter both pain and how you feel pain. Poor sleep can actually increase your sensitivity to pain. Some parts of the brain associated with pain perception become hyperactive after poor sleep. A lack of sleep also lowers the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that provides pain relief. So, poor sleep can mean you experience pain more intensely and may not deal with it as well.
5 Sleep-Enhancing Tips to Try
1. Herbal tea is the new coffee.
Many coffee and tea drinkers have traded in their caffeinated hot drink for herbal tea instead. You may also sleep better by doing the same. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, so it can keep you awake. Cut back on caffeinated drinks throughout the day by drinking herbal tea or water instead. Or, if you normally have a cup of caffeinated tea an hour or so before bed, have your tea a little earlier.
2. Meditate before bed.
Meditation helps soothe your thoughts and relax your mind, and anyone can do it. Simply find a relaxing, quiet place and focus on your breathing. You may concentrate on breathing in good thoughts and breathing out the day’s stresses or quietly focusing on peaceful images. Meditating instead of playing on your phone or watching TV helps you avoid blue light exposure before bed, another common threat to quality sleep.
3. Keep a “good-sleep” journal.
Journaling can do much for your emotional well-being, and it may help you sleep better as well. Try jotting down thoughts you think may keep you awake before going to bed. Pretend you are leaving these thoughts tucked away for the night in your journal. You could even use your good-sleep journal to make notes about how you slept the following morning, which may help you discover little things in your life, schedule, or routine that are keeping you awake.
4. Eat earlier and sleep better.
Food is our fuel, and our bodies really don’t need fuel to sleep. Try to have your last daily meal about four hours before bedtime so the energy you get with the meal is used up by bedtime. The digestion process that takes place after you eat can affect how well you fall asleep and how well you stay asleep.
5. Make your bedroom your sanctuary.
A good environment encourages good sleep. Make your bedroom your relaxing sanctuary where you feel at ease and comfortable. If you’re in a bedroom that is cluttered, uncomfortable, bright, or noisy, it can affect your sleep cycle and even keep you from falling asleep quickly. Try:
- Using a fan or sound machine to cover outside noises
- Lowering light from windows and artificial light sources
- Arranging furniture in a comfortable, inviting way
- Adjusting the thermostat to the most soothing temperature (usually around 70 degrees)