Chronic pain affects more than half of the adult population aged 60 and up. Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts more than three months and has a very different effect on your brain than acute pain.


Unfortunately, chronic pain can have long-term effects on brain health in older adults, even increasing the risk of dementia.


One of the most common complaints we hear from our chronic pain patients is that their sleep suffers. Chronic pain induces a vicious cycle of disrupted sleep, in which a lack of sleep leads to increased sensitivity to pain. Pain reduces your ability to sleep, and the cycle continues.


Sleep disruption is yet another risk factor for dementia, so addressing sleep deprivation is critical if you live with chronic pain. Sleep is also essential for your body’s ability to heal and recover from the pain you’re feeling.


There are numerous reasons why you may not be sleeping well, ranging from difficulty falling asleep in the first place to waking up frequently throughout the night.


If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ve come to the right place!


What You Should Know About Sleep


Sleep is a basic human need that is frequently overlooked in discussions of health and wellness. When was the last time you spoke with your doctor about a new health issue and they inquired about your sleeping habits?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19% of adults in the United States do not get enough rest or sleep! This is a large number of people, and it is the lowest hanging fruit when compared to other lifestyle changes that can improve your health.


Whether you have chronic health conditions or not, improving your sleep is an important first step toward better health.


What Exactly Is Sleep Deprivation?


As previously stated, there could be more than one reason you aren’t getting enough sleep to feel your best. Any of these factors can contribute to sleep deprivation.


Sleep deprivation occurs when you do not get enough total sleep, sleep at the wrong time of day, or do not get good quality sleep. Adults who are sleep-deprived may report feeling tired throughout the day and not feeling refreshed when they wake up.


Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your entire day, from start to finish! As previously stated, a lack of sleep can impair brain and physical function, resulting in lost productivity and even an increased risk of death.


Sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and depression. Are you beginning to see why sleep is so important?


Now that you know WHY, let’s talk about how to get your best night’s sleep on a regular basis!


Your Ideal Sleep Setting


Everyone has what we refer to as an ideal sleeping environment. This means that your environment is conducive to better sleep and that both your nightly and morning routines set you up for success.


Step 1: Establish Your Ideal Nighttime Routine


The most important aspect of getting a good night’s sleep is developing a pre-bedtime routine. Going through the same motions before bedtime every night will signal to your body that it is time to rest. Create a routine that encourages rest and relaxation near your preferred bedtime.


Begin by spending just a few minutes the night before preparing for the next day to ensure a smooth morning. This step will give you some peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for the next day and will keep you from worrying about it at night.


The next step is to concentrate on a routine that instructs your body and mind to relax. A gentle stretching routine before bedtime may help you relax, but avoid a strenuous workout that may keep you awake.


Also, avoid watching TV or using your phone within 30 minutes to an hour of going to bed because the light from the screen can disrupt your circadian rhythm.


Keep any screens in the bedroom that might tempt you before bed or during the night to a minimum. Instead, try some meditation or journaling before going to bed.


Set a schedule and stick to it so that you go to bed at the same time every night. As a result, your internal clock will be set. The first few days may be difficult, but don’t give up too quickly! It may take a few weeks of experimenting to find your ideal sleeping time.


Finally, create a comfortable environment with soft lighting to allow your body and mind to relax for the night.


Step 2: Improving Your Sleep Quality


Experts can’t seem to agree on the optimal amount of sleep for each individual. Some say you need at least seven or eight hours, while others say six hours is sufficient. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll eventually figure out how much sleep you need to feel refreshed when you wake up.


Make your bedroom dark and quiet enough to encourage rest. Keep your room at a temperature that is comfortable for you. Avoid watching TV or scrolling through your phone if you find yourself waking up throughout the night and having difficulty falling back to sleep.


Don’t get caught up in the time or worry about not getting enough sleep. Concentrate on your breathing until you fall asleep again.


Step 3: Design Your Dream Morning Routine


What you do in the first few hours of your day, believe it or not, has an impact on your sleep the following night. Set a regular wake-up time and stick to it every day, just like you do your bedtime.


If you have something to look forward to in the morning, it is easier to wake up feeling refreshed. Make morning rituals that make you look forward to your day, and get up early enough to avoid feeling rushed. While reading a book, meditating, or journaling, sip a cup of coffee or tea.


Try moving in the morning, whether it’s a quick stretching or strengthening routine or a walk. Spend a few extra minutes before you have to start thinking about what the rest of your day will entail.


Start your day off right with a whole-food breakfast and avoid quick, processed food options high in sugar, which will lead to an energy crash later.


The good news is that there are numerous treatment options for living well with chronic pain. And getting some sleep is a great place to start! It takes time, patience, and awareness to develop better sleeping habits.