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Latest posts by Emma Sutherland (see all)

Hacks for hitting the hay and slipping into a sound sleep

It seems that chronic pain and sleep problems go hand-in-hand. When you have a night of little or poor sleep, you’re likely to feel more sensitive to pain the following day. Lack of sleep reduces your pain threshold which alters your perception of pain. If you want to know some sleep hacks, read on!

Increased sensitivity to pain can subsequently affect the quality of your sleep and so on. It’s a cycle that can be tough to break! If you experience chronic pain, it can be difficult to fall or remain asleep. Research indicates that sleep determines pain levels, rather than the reverse. For this reason, it’s important to address sleep as part of your pain management plan.

How much sleep do you need?

Most healthy adults function best with 7-9 hours sleep. Over 30% of Australians get less than this!

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose

While one night without sleep isn’t the end of the world, over time this slow accumulation of sleep debt can impact the quality of your waking life and increase your risk of more serious conditions, including chronic pain.

Sleep deprivation can affect your:

  • appearance
  • immune system
  • heart health
  • hunger signals and weight
  • memory and reaction
  • fatigue and stamina
  • productivity and creativity
  • mental wellbeing and mood
  • focus

Just because you can “get by” with less sleep, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel better and operate optimally with extra hours! Sleep is restorative and enables your body to re-energise – no other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!

Herbal Sleep Hacks

Withania

This small plant native to India and North Africa is also known by its botanical name Withania somnifera. Ashwagandha may soothe stress, alleviate anxiety and be particularly helpful for improving insomnia and sleep quality.

Jamaican Dogwood

Native to Southern Florida, the West Indies and Texas, the bark of this tree is known for its therapeutic properties. It’s traditionally been used to aid sleep, anxiety, nerve pain, migraine, menstrual cramps and other conditions.

Strategies to Score Some Shut Eye

To be able to fall sleep, your nervous system has to calm down. This is easier said than done in today’s fast-paced “always-on” world, where your nervous system is constantly thrown into overdrive. If you have chronic pain, you already have a more active nervous system. To have good quality sleep, make bedtime a priority by following these strategies to score some shut eye.

  • Lower the lights
  • Switch off screens
  • Create a bedroom environment conductive to sound sleep – dark and cool is best!
  • Promote relaxation with a bedtime ritual
  • Stop the daytime napping
  • Catch the wave and go to sleep when you notice the signs at night
  • Engage in exercise
  • Stick to a consistent sleep-wake cycle
  • Eliminate evening excess including big meals, sweets and stimulants
  • Speak with your Naturopath/Nutritionist if issues persist

What to Do When You Wake Through the Night

Many of the same strategies that help you drop off to sleep initially, can help you return to sleep if you wake:

  • Read something light
  • Listen to a sleep meditation
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil
  • Sip a warm non-caffeinated beverage
  • Use a heat pack to soothe any aches or pains that may be keeping you awake
  • Write down any thoughts or worries keeping you awake to get them out of your head until the next day
  • Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired again

For more tips on how to get a good nigh sleep read our blog “Top 10 Tips for  Good Nights Sleep”

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