Sleep is important for everyone, but especially for those with chronic pain, as fatigue can make chronic pain worse.
Sleep is the time when our bodies repair themselves, both physically (torn muscle fibers) and psychologically (working through fears and anxiety).
Each sleep cycle (about 100 minutes) is divided into physically repairing sleep and psychologically repairing sleep. Age affects this balance, for example babies spend almost all of their sleeping hours in psychologically repairing sleep (dreaming), as older adults spend more time in physically repairing sleep.
When anxiety, depression or poor sleep habits interfere with sleep patterns, the natural ability of the body to repair itself becomes disrupted.
While there a number of sleeping pills marketed today, many come with nasty side effects such as addiction, depression, increased accidents and none are approved as long term sleeping aids.
Things that make sleep better include regular exercise, relaxation exercises, having a relaxing bedtime routine, and setting the conditions for sleep (sleep hygiene). Another thing that works very well for sleep is CBT-i or cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia. CBT-i is aimed at changing sleep habits and busting myths about sleep and insomnia, that make sleep difficulties continue. The main steps of CBT-i are: sleep education, stimulus control, and sleep restriction therapy.
A good free Canadian resource for this is Sleepwell.
NOTE: IF YOU SNORE OR EVER STOP BREATHING AT NIGHT, YOU MAY HAVE SLEEP APNEA, AND SHOULD HAVE A SLEEP STUDY DONE
A 10 minute muscle relaxation audio file that will help you go to sleep.
short video on sleep and what you can do about it
Not for the faint of heart, and not recommended as a first line option for insomnia, sleep restriction therapy can be very helpful for some people.