After writing last week about recovery days, I started thinking more about the importance of sleep to pain relief. My mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson of Client Attraction.com says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I’d like to get more specific to holistic pain relief and say, “How you sleep is how you do everything.” But what does this really mean? To me, it means if you sleep well, you can spend the day feeling much more well. If you don’t sleep consistently or heavily, it’s hard to be consistent about anything you do during the day. If it hurts to sleep, chances are you are hurting during the day too.
Does chronic pain make sleep more difficult? Or does difficulty sleeping make chronic pain feel worse? Honestly, I don’t think it matters which is true—both situations make our lives more difficult if we can’t find a way to improve them. Plus, you and I both know that our friends and family don’t always understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain. Chances are, they also may not understand what it is to have chronically disturbed sleep. Jill Knapp writes in Huffington Post, “Most likely, a person in chronic pain isn’t sleeping as well as they should. This could be because they are in too much pain to fall asleep, or to stay asleep, or they are having anxiety over the fear of dealing with pain for the rest of their life.”
So what’s a person living with chronic pain to do? One thing you DON’T want to do is drink more caffeine. It’s our society’s go-to solution for that occasional sleepless night, but a 1997 study showed that patients with chronic back pain consume more than TWICE as much caffeine as patients without chronic back pain. In the same study, anecdotes also suggested that excess caffeine use may also be associated with chronic back pain. So not only does caffeine potentially increase your pain levels, but it can really mess with your ability to sleep. I know that when I was still drinking a mug of coffee in the morning, I was also taking a natural sleep aid supplement at night. When I quit the coffee, I no longer had a need for a sleep aid!
How about what you can eat that will make it easier to get a good night’s sleep? A 2012 study showed that the more varied your diet is, the better you will sleep. So try new healthy, whole foods and get plenty of variety throughout the day, week and month. As tempting as it is to have the same breakfast or lunch every day, this is a GREAT reason to switch it up regularly. The study also shows that getting more lycopene, selenium and vitamin C can improve sleep. The best sources of lycopene are grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya, and watermelon. There’s a lot of selenium in shellfish, turkey, brazil nuts, and some types of fish. And broccoli and kale are two fantastic sources of vitamin C!
Here’s another interesting idea to consider—be sure to brush your teeth immediately after you awake. Why? Because arthritis has been linked to the bacteria gingivitis—it’s actually been found IN THE JOINTS of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis!
Let me know how these ideas help—and what do you do to help improve your sleep?
Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!