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How to sleep better: 11 useful tips

The quantity and quality of sleep is fundamental to help you coping better with pain. Lack of sleep makes the system more susceptible to stress, anxiety and low mood. These factors deeply influence pain and vice versa.


There are many things you can do to improve your sleep pattern.


You will not need to follow all of them for it may be too overwhelming. I suggest you start with some of these advice and you start integrating the other ones once you have become more familiar with the process.

1) Use the bedroom only for sleep: it is very tempting and comfortable reading and watching movies in bed. Although, in order to help you sleep better, your brain has to register the bed with the place where you sleep or make love to your partner.


2) Make the bedroom comfortable: you need to create a comfortable sleep environment. Make your room quiet, dark and cool.


3) Make the bedroom cool: in order to fall asleep and maintain a good sleep, your body needs to cool down. The bedroom should have a lower temperature than the rest of the house. You can obtain that by turning the radiator off, opening the window or having a less thinner duvet.


4) Set a sleep time and wake up time: routine is very important when it comes to sleep quality. It is very important that you try to go to bed and wake up at the same time even when you don’t work. Sleeping in should be avoided.


5) Don’t go to bed if you are not tired: even if you have an early wake up the following day it is important you don’t spend too much time in bed awake. Therefore consider going to bed only when sleepy.


6) Reduce or eliminate naps: napping during the day is always tempting and used as a way to counterbalance the hours of sleep lost at night. Although, it is important you don’t rest too much during the day so you can have an early night sleep.


7) Don’t stay awake in bed for too long: this point is one of the hardest to follow. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes get out of bed and change room. You have to break the association between bed, anxiety and being awake. Come back to bed only when tired again.


8) Change your diet: you won’t have to make dramatic changes in the way you eat but some adjustments can drastically improve your sleep. Avoid heavy meals before bed time. Avoid caffeine and alcohol consumption in the second half of the day. Reduce sugar and fluids intake before bedtime and favor fruits and vegetables as night snack over sugars.


9) Limit screen time prior to bed: avoid contact with phone, tablet, computer or television at least 1h before going to the bedroom. Gradually turning off lights in the house helps the body to go gentle into the night.


10) Don’t rearrange your life around sleep: it is important you implement this new habits slowly and gradually. Changing too much, too soon may lead to an increased level of anxiety around sleeping with detrimental effects.


11) Exercise: It help body get tired, decrease level of cortisol and stress hormones. Exercises helps as well reducing anxiety and boosting the mood with direct consequences on the quality and quantity of your sleep.


Thanks for reading,


Davide

lanfranco.therapy@gmail.com


References:

1) Cheatle, M. D., Foster, S., Pinkett, A., Lesneski, M., Qu, D., & Dhingra, L. (2016). Assessing and Managing Sleep Disturbance in Patients with Chronic Pain. Sleep medicine clinics, 11(4), 531–541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsmc.2016.08.004


2) Chen, P. H., Kuo, H. Y., & Chueh, K. H. (2010). Sleep hygiene education: efficacy on sleep quality in working women. The journal of nursing research : JNR, 18(4), 283–289. https://doi.org/10.1097/JNR.0b013e3181fbe3fd


3) Finan, P. H., Goodin, B. R., & Smith, M. T. (2013). The association of sleep and pain: an update and a path forward. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society, 14(12), 1539–1552. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2013.08.007


4) Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep medicine reviews, 22, 23–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001


5) Kline C. E. (2014). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 8(6), 375–379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614544437


6) Meadows, G. (2014). The Sleep Book: How to Sleep Well Every Night. Hachette UK.

Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon and Schuster.


7) Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon and Schuster.


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