Develop healthy sleep habits and find resources for better sleep.

It is common for people with pain to have sleep problems. It’s important to address any sleep issues you may experience with your doctor.

Healthy sleep habits

  • Exercise but not close to bedtime. Exercise can help regulate your body and make you physically tired by the time you’re ready to sleep.
  • Get up at the same time every morning. This helps regulate your body’s clock.
  • Avoid naps in the afternoon.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco in the evening. These can delay or disrupt your sleep.
  • Evaluate your room. Make sure your environment is comfortable, quiet and dark. Install blackout curtains and use a quiet fan to block outside noise. Use a few extra pillows and place one between your knees when lying on your side with leg bent.
  • Wind down. Your body needs to time to switch into sleep mode so consider doing a calming activity such as reading, listening to soothing music or meditating. Avoid using electronic devices such has laptops or mobile phones because the light from the screen activates the brain.

Guided meditation and relaxation for better sleep

Try these resources to help with sleep:

Sleep diary

Use a sleep diary to document your sleep patterns so you and your health care provider can determine the problem.

Sleep medication

Things to consider before taking medication

  • Try non-drug measures first, such as practicing healthy sleep habits
  • Better pain control may help improve sleep
  • Adding a sleep medication may lead to additive side effects
  • Always consult your health care provider

There are medications that can be used regularly to help you sleep. Some of these medications such as amitriptyline may also help with chronic pain. Dosing pain medication that makes you drowsy at night time (for example, opioids and gabapentin) can help with sleep also.

Other medications for sleep

Can be used regularly:

  • Trazodone

Should be used as needed only:

  • Zopiclone
  • Benzodiazepines such as oxazepam, lorazepam or other medications ending in “pam”
  • Zolpidem

Some of these medications may make you drowsy during the day too. If you take these medications, make sure you do not operate a motor vehicle or any other tasks that requires you to be alert.

If you have been taking a medication for a long time to help you sleep, ask your health care provider before stopping the medication abruptly. Some medications may cause unpleasant side effects if stopped quickly without decreasing the dose, if you have been using them a long time.

Sleep clinics

Sleep labs investigate, diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Sleep studies are conducted to monitor your brain waves, movements, heart and other levels while you sleep.