The importance of quality, restful sleep cannot be over-emphasized. Getting a good night’s sleep allows your body to recharge, but from a pain perspective, it allows your body to heal thyself. Good chemicals are produced, that heal and relax which are vital in dealing with chronic pain in particular. If you suffer from chronic pain then you know what we are talking about, as it’s pretty likely that you do not sleep well which is no coincidence.
That being said, with the large proportion of society living incredibly hectic social and professional lives, sometimes it feels like getting a decent night’s sleep is impossible for most of us. In fact, it’s common for a large number of us to self-diagnose as having insomnia (which often isn’t true).
Well, don’t fret! While insomnia is a serious condition that does require immediate consultation with a healthcare provider, for the bulk of sleep issues out there, the tips highlighted below should be able to offer some relief and much-needed rest.
Increasing the quality of your sleep can be simplified to four main factors: Diet, Sleep Environment, Sleep Routine & Pain.
What you put into your body, specifically in the hours immediately preceding sleep, can have an immediate effect. You will want to avoid any food or drink high in sugar, caffeine, or other stimulants. This is for obvious reasons. The more stimulated, or alert, your mind is, the more difficult it will be for you to relax and enter sleep.
Our Recommendation: Avoid eating meals and drinking caffeinated beverages at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
The actual sleeping environment is a factor many of us totally ignore. It’s not uncommon for people to have a TV in their bedroom, or to continue surfing the internet on their laptops or smartphones while lying in bed. Like caffeine, watching TV or using your mobile devices can be too engaging or stimulating, and can be a significant obstacle to falling asleep.
Your bedding needs to also be sleep-conducive. This means you might need to invest in a quality mattress, comfortable pillows that provide neck support, and breathable blankets or covers that allow your body to maintain a pleasant temperature.
Our Recommendation: Ensure that your bedding is comfortable, and that your bedroom is dedicated to one purpose: sleeping. So remove anything that could be an unnecessary distraction. This includes TVs, computers, and ensure that your curtains or blinds properly block out light.
Once your diet and sleep environment are properly managed, developing a healthy sleep routine also becomes vital. Simply put, like a lot of other habits that are beneficial to your health (such as exercise), in order to truly see results, you need to develop a consistent routine.
This means maintaining a regular bedtime, which not only addresses when you go to sleep but also when you wake up. This is important as maintaining a sleep schedule allows your body to develop a natural sleep cycle. Once this is achieved, you will find yourself becoming naturally sleepy at a certain point in the evening and, so long as you don’t ingest any stimulants and your sleep environment is inviting, you’ll find that getting a deep, restful sleep almost feels ‘automatic’.
Our Recommendation: Be patient. Developing a consistent habit can take time. It’s important to not introduce unnecessary stress into your sleep routine by getting frustrated at the process. The aim is to relax, remove distractions, and allow your body to engage its natural sleep mechanisms.
Suffering from pain is a real killer cause of sleep disturbances, especially if you are suffering from chronic pain (greater than 6 months). Pain is so intricately linked to sleeping patterns and as often happens, a vicious cycle gets set up where pain causes sleep issues and vice versa, leading to a slippery descent. Of course taking medications to help with pain can also change your sleeping patterns, and antidepressants, relaxants and other medications can affect the quality of your sleep and reduced your REM sleep. REM sleep is the truly restorative sleep that we all need.
Our Recommendation: Address your pain, get it diagnosed and get it treated! Why wait? We think we are experts in this area, we offer natural treatment that won’t interfere with your REM sleep, you may be surprised sometimes how simple it can be.
As mentioned above though, there is a definite difference between minor sleeping issues and significant conditions such as insomnia or extensive sleeplessness. It’s important to avoid self-diagnosing and to consult with an experienced healthcare practitioner, who can provide qualified input and treatment.
Our Melbourne osteopathy team are here to help with your sleep issues because these are usually intricately linked to pain, discomfort and other physical issues that we can diagnose and treat. Contact us right away to setup a consultation appointment.