Poor sleep is more than a simple inconvenience. Chronic lack of sleep greatly increases the risk for depression, diabetes, and hypertension. Let’s explore holistic solutions and natural sleep remedies for chronic pain. Uncover effective natural remedies for improved rest and learn all the ways in which better sleep can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.
Introduction: Sleep problems are a major contributor to some of the most prevalent health issues for Americans today. More than a third of adults don’t get the amount of sleep that they need, sleeping less than seven hours per night. While the amount of sleep that you need per night does change with age, the importance of sleep – especially quality sleep – is universal and cannot be overstated, especially for chronic health problems and recurring or chronic pain conditions, where sufficient daily recovery and pain resilience are needed for a good quality of life.
Exploring Natural Sleep Remedies for Chronic Pain
Even minor sleep deprivation can rob your body of a significant portion of its pain resilience and make chronic pain conditions worse. But finding ways to improve your sleep – especially when you’re in pain – is easier said than done. Before you turn your eye towards pharmaceutical answers, consider a few natural remedies first.
Effective Herbal Remedies for Better Sleep
There are different supplements that can help put the mind at ease, relax the body, and bring a more restful sleep into your life. The most commonly used natural sleep aids include melatonin, magnesium, Valerian root, and kava root.
Melatonin is one of the hormones the body uses to regulate the circadian rhythm of the brain. Low levels of melatonin can be associated with problems in the circadian rhythm, jet lag, and insomnia. Supplementing a little bit of melatonin might help you sleep better, if a lack of melatonin is an issue to begin with.
Magnesium is a common mineral that also helps induce drowsiness, as a natural sedative. It’s important to control your dosage here, or consider eating more magnesium-rich foods, first. Valerian root may act as a sedative by affecting your GABA levels, much like alcohol. Unlike alcohol, however, it doesn’t share a long host of negative side effects that might interrupt sleep or worsen your pain.
When exploring herbal remedies, consider asking your doctor for brand recommendations. Herbal remedies and supplements are poorly regulated, and no two brands are completely alike in purity and effect.
The Effectiveness of a Pre-Sleep Routine
If you’re inconsistent about how and when you sleep, then creating a sleep ritual can be a good first step towards much more restful nights. Sleep routines or sleep rituals usually involve:
- Keeping your room cold and dark before sleep.
- Taking a warm shower or bath before you go to bed.
- Using a specific scented oil to “prime yourself” for sleep, mentally associating that smell with drowsiness.
- Using background noise, such as a rainstorm track, to help fall asleep.
- Being consistent about what time you go to bed, on every day of the week.
Chronic Pain, Shift Work, and Sleeping Problems
An underrated source of sleep problems comes from when and how we work. Shift work can exacerbate existing sleep issues, as well as chronic pain. While the best solution for better sleep as a shift worker is to work a more sensible shift, that isn’t always an option. Other considerations include:
- Catching up on your sleep on your off days.
- Trying to maintain a single type of shift for long periods of time, rather than constantly switching.
- Timing your exposure to light, so you can get ready to sleep as soon as possible after your shift ends.
- Maintaining a sleep ritual that involves a cool and dark bedroom, even if you go to bed during the day.
Sleep issues are a common problem for our clients with chronic pain conditions. We often field questions about effective sleep remedies, useful medications, as well as long-term pain management tips that might help improve sleep. Some of these questions include:
When should I see a doctor about my sleeping issues? Sleep problems can become very severe over time. Insomnia can have lasting effects on a person’s metabolism and cognition. But many sleep problems aren’t recognized nor diagnosed for years. If you still don’t feel rested after trying a few different natural sleep remedies, consider speaking to your doctor about conducting a sleep study. Sleep studies can help identify cases of sleep apnea, for example.
Are there contraindications or side effects for natural sleep remedies? There can be side effects from herbal sleep aids, particularly those sold as an herbal supplement. While a chamomile tea before bed has a slim chance of interacting with any medications or pre-existing conditions, melatonin and magnesium supplements can potentially interfere with certain drugs, especially at the right dose. Consult your doctor before trying out a new natural sleep remedy.
How long does it take to improve sleep quality? You may see improvements overnight, pun intended. But the effects of better sleep can take a few days or weeks to begin affecting your physical and mental health. If you’ve felt chronically under slept, then even just a week of better sleep may significantly affect your chronic pain. Consistent sleep can help you feel better and perform better at work.
Is screen time a big issue for sleep, even with coated glasses or contact lenses? Blue light filters are designed to limit the amount of “blue light” entering the eye from a computer or phone screen, which can help reduce the risk of eye strain, and should theoretically improve your sleep schedule. However, staring at a screen in bed while under the covers or with the lights off is conducive to neither your eye strain, nor your sleeping problems.
What is the best bedtime, and what is the best amount of sleep per night? Settling on a best bedtime might not always be conducive to the best sleep. It depends on how you plan and schedule your day. Most research agrees, however, that we should be asleep before midnight. For most people, this means going to bed – or at the very least, getting ready to sleep – between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep.
Let’s work together to improve your quality of life today. Our pain management clinic offers a range of treatment options and in-depth, personalized treatment plans to help you find your relief. Schedule a consultation with us at PMIR today, and learn more about your chronic pain treatment options.
Chronic lack of sleep can drastically affect your tolerance for pain, decrease your quality of life, and make existing conditions – such as chronic pain – a lot worse. Addressing your sleep naturally can be one of the quickest and most effective ways to combat your pain and bring a lot of enjoyment back into your day-to-day. However, that is easier said than done. Get in touch with us at PMIR to learn more about professional pain management, and your options for at-home chronic pain remedies.