14 TIPS ON HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP…

Have a glass of semi-skimmed milk with 2 teaspoons of honey before you got to bed for a natural goodnight’s sleep. Our immune system also works harder during sleep to fight and prevent illness.

Take Melatonin which is a hormone that plays a key part in regulating your natural body-clock. Studies have shown that melatonin improves sleep quality, particularly in the elderly.

Hypnotherapy is another one which is supposed to help – obviously, it’s self-hypnosis which you might find some tricks on that on the internet otherwise you would need to book an appointment with a Hypnotherapist to take you through it.

Take Valerian as it is thought to have a sedative effect. Studies have shown that the root of the valerian makes getting to sleep easier and increases a deeper sleep.

Relaxation therapy which is where you (the patient) focuses on relaxing different muscle groups.

Don’t go to bed early as this can create negative associations with being in bed that turn a short bout of poor sleep into chronic insomnia.

Sounds silly but they suggest you put your Pj’s on as doing this can make a big difference to your routine and mindset on how you wind down.

Take a warm bath with Lavender oils.

Eat more leeks and onions or garlic and artichokes as they contain prebiotic fibres that fuel the healthy bacteria in our gut and can have a profound effect on our health and sleep.

Fill a hot water bottle about half an hour before you go to bed and do this regularly so a routine helps you to unwind.

If you have to pop to the loo in the night then install a red light (or a battery operated red candle) in your bathroom as it can make it easier to fall back to sleep.

Make sure you have the right mattress. There are lots of companies who let you try before you buy so give some a trial run and see if a different mattress helps with your sleep. A huge £100 off (for February)the Nrem Mattress* using the code BACKPAINBLOG100 

Listen to music, relaxation music not head banging stuff.

Sort out your bedroom. I made mine my sanctuary and redesigned it completely a couple of years ago. I had some Venetian blinds fitted in a dark wood colour so that I could make the room dark at any time of the day or early evening. I changed my curtains from a busy floral pattern to a plain cream colour.

I changed the wattage of my lights to as low as I could have them, but still be able to read. I changed the light shades to compliment the curtains in a plain colour. 

I bought a small electric heat pad to warm the bed up on a cold night or cold afternoon. I filled the bed with lots of cushions as well as a v-shaped cushion.  I made sure that my bedside clock had a dark background rather than a bright luminous one. I bought a radio/ cd and put it next to my side of the bed so if I’m having trouble going off to sleep or wake up in pain and need help going back to sleep again, then I can simply press the play button, pop my earphones in without even disturbing my husband.

I have a lavender spray which I spray on my pillow just before I go to bed. The room temperature is very important to me. I actually have no heat on in the bedroom as I prefer to snuggle down under the duvet. 

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MORE TRICKS TO HELP YOU SLEEP…

Every magazine that you pick up seems to have another trick to help you sleep but if only one trick you try works for you then it’s always worth posting about.

In this months Woman & Home, they suggest that even if you do not feel tired going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day helps you to sleep better.

If you do decide to do a walk or short workout never do this late in the evening as it will pump adrenaline and you will find  it difficult to go off to sleep.

Avoid large meals and caffeine two hours before you usually go to bed and try if you can to just read and not participate in anything on your screens.

Other obvious tricks from sleep experts are to try a camomile tea before you go to bed. Put your book if it’s on a screen to the blue shade to read. Have a warm bath with some lavender oil drops which can help you to relax. Spray your pillow with watered down lavender oil.

Be smart about napping as while it is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep napping can make it worse. For me personally, if I go for my afternoon rest later than 3pm then I find it difficult to go off at the usual bedtime.

They even suggest turning off or down your light as the night goes on as melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s day, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, therefore making you more alert (I’ve not tried this one).

Get the right mattress, check out what are available from N: Rem Sleep System (put BACK PAIN BLOG in discount code for £30 off if you purchase from them). If all else fails then maybe a light therapy box would work for you (sorry no discount codes for that one).

 

FIGHTING THE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION…

I know I am far from suffering alone when I talk about sleepless nights whether you are suffering from chronic pain or not. Once the cycle of disbelief that you will sleep through the night sets in then your brain is already warning you that it’s going to be the same every night.

There are hundred’s of blog posts and websites on how to get a better nights sleep. I don’t know about you, but I have spent plenty of money on investing and trying different tactics to help with my sleep.

Most nights I manage to get off to sleep without a problem once my amitryptyline has kicked. I always seem to feel so exhausted that I try to convince myself that this will be the best nights sleep I have had in ages. Admittedly over the last six months the persistent pins and needles from my trapped ulnar nerve combined with my low back and neck pain, has woken me up continuously every night without fail. But I honestly convinced myself that once the elbow surgery was done I would be able to get a better nights sleep.

For the first couple of nights after the surgery I was obviously woken up more with the pain from the surgery but I only had a  light sedation so I felt sure after a couple of days that things would start settling down again. How wrong could I have been. The nights are sooooo long when you are constantly waking up and then the mornings seem a blur and a haze seems to envelope my eyes and I find it harder and harder to concentrate for longer than a couple of minutes. All I want to do is fall asleep sitting upright.

According to Wikepedia Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function.

I’ve tried caffeine first thing and find that does wake me up pretty quickly and the shower is a blessing in disguise but before the clock has struck eleven I am already desperate to nod off. The best time of the day for me seems to be after an afternoon sleep (which I have daily) at around 4pm when I always have a cup of tea and a biscuit. My surge of energy then makes me want to do a million things all at once and I really wish I could feel like this first in the morning instead of late afternoon, but I guess if this is how my body works then I shall just have to accept it this way.

One good side to this is that I am always the party animal at night when we go out and in fact a lot of people I know think I must be joking when I complain about how the lack of sleep and pain makes me feel as I always seem to be on top form when they see me. Little do they know that this little dormouse has to work very hard to have her bit of fun time in a 24 hour period.

According to an article on WEB MD Charles Bea, MD says that ‘there is a link between pain and sleep problems, exactly how the two conditions are connected varies from person to person. “You have to determine what is the chicken and what is the egg,” he says. “Is pain a manifestation of, or made worse by, a sleep disorder or is pain causing the poor quality of sleep?”

Charles Bae, MD, a neurologist in the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, puts it this way: “Pain can be the main reason that someone wakes up multiple times a night, and this results in a decrease in sleep quantity and quality, and on the flip side, sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold and pain tolerance and make existing pain feel worse”.

So what’s the answer – Spine Health say that “Psychological techniques. Meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, and deep breathing exercises are some of the more common practices.Sleep medications. Specifically designed to help with sleep, these medications may be considered by themselves or along with other strategies in certain circumstances”, may help with your sleep pattern.

Arthritis Health says that “Positive bedtime habits and environment changes include:

  • Using a high-quality mattress with comfortable sheets and blankets
  • Eliminating light and noise from the bedroom, including glare and sounds from electronics; a sound machine that generates white noise may help mask outside noises (people will often use a fan for this purpose)
  • Lowering the temperature in the bedroom to 68 degrees or lower
  • Using deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques (tensing and then relaxing muscle groups in sequence)
  • Using a biofeedback device to help individuals recognize signs of tension and actively work to relax muscles, slow breathing, and calm down
  • Going to bed at the same time every day
  • Getting up and doing something calming if sleeplessness sets in, returning to bed only once feeling tired

If you have any unique suggestions on how to get back to sleep after being woken up with pain then please let us know so we can all try it.