Did you get a good night's sleep last night?
How are you pain levels today?
You might be surprised to find out they're related. In fact, 53% of chronic pain patients also have insomnia. It's a chicken and egg scenario - scientists aren't sure which came first, but there's some evidence that suggests you may be able to help your chronic pain by getting a good night's sleep. One night of short sleep (under 7 hours) has been shown to increase levels of inflammatory chemicals in the blood. While you're sleeping, adrenaline levels drop and HGH (human growth hormone) raises. HGH uses amino acids to repair muscles stressed by exercise. Without the proper sleep, your body can't properly repair itself and pain ensues.
What can you do about it? As a former insomnia sufferer, I've found some options that might help. Some are taken from the New York Times Bestseller, The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss:
- Do Ki-Hara Self-Stretches. After a quick and easy set of stretches, people tend to feel very relaxed, all the tension gone from their neck and shoulders, hips and lower back. By doing your stretches during the day, you'll feel more comfortable at night and fall asleep faster.
- Wear socks to bed. This gives you a feeling of warmth and security.
- Listen to soothing music or guided meditations to quiet your mind. Here's a website where you can download some for free (These also will help you relax on airplanes)
- Make your bedroom a minimalist space - no news, books, tv or work. Try to avoid clutter and loud artwork. In Feng Shei, mirrors are also a no no. Leave your worries elsewhere and let your bedroom be a place of rest.
- Try a Philips goLITE - set it up next to your computer in the mornings for 15 minutes. It's great for Seasonal Affective Disorder and Jet Lag, but also seems to help with finding your natural sleep patterns.
- Download the APP Sleep Cycle on your iPOD or iPhone. It senses and records your sleep cycles by detecting movement in your bed. You can set the alarm to wake you up when you're at your most awake state. Best of all, you can see how well (or not) you're sleeping in easy to read graphs.
- Use a Nightwave Pulse Light. Breathe with the light as it rises and falls until you fall right asleep.
- Stay away from caffeine after 5 pm.
- Not my favorite - but a cold shower an hour before bed will knock you out cold. Tim Ferriss takes a full ice bath and claims that it's like being hit with an "elephant tranquilizer."