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Living with chronic pain? Improve your sleep tonight with these tips

“I can’t believe it’s 3:12 am already.”
“When is that medication finally going to kick in?”
“Ugh, I just wish I could get comfortable for once.”

Do any of these sound familiar? If you’ve been living with chronic pain, you know that sleep and pain are closely linked. Sleep hygiene is a daily practice based on habits and environment that support restful sleep. It’s also your best shot to get a good night of sleep consistently. Keep reading for concrete tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene.

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Our best tips for a good night’s sleep

Increased pain makes it tough to get a restful night of sleep, which further increases your pain the next day, making sleep challenging once again. This cycle can be a tough one to break out of, and it’s a common challenge Aivo members face. 

Below, you’ll find suggestions for sleep hygiene from Aivo’s Health Coaching team. Pick 1-2 to start with tonight and add more gradually over time. 

  • Optimize your sleep environment. Set yourself up for success by making it cool (67’ is optimal), dark, and quiet in your bedroom. Close the curtains, turn on white noise if you like it, and consider an eye cover!
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Brains love routine! Wind down for a restful night of sleep with a bath, stretching, deep breathing, meditation, or any other way you like to relax. If you’ve got a lot on your mind, jot down plans and intentions for the next day. 
  • Create consistency. The most important sleep habit is to wake up at the same time each day. You’ll optimize your body clock and support your brain with the routine it craves and loves. Bonus points for going to bed at a consistent time, too!
  • Prepare relaxing activities. Not every night of sleep will go according to plan, so if you’re having a hard time sleeping, get out of bed after 15-20 minutes and do something relaxing. Listening to calming music, read a book or magazine, or try out a new science podcast (that should do the trick). Head back to bed when you feel sleepy again.
  • Minimize caffeine and alcohol. Your internal body clock is highly sensitive to these substances and they can throw off your sleep. Limit caffeine to earlier in the day and moderate alcohol intake to 1 drink per day at most. 
  • Use supportive cushions. Pillows and cushions are your best friend when you’re trying to get comfortable. If you’re a side sleeper, try a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your stomach, a small pillow under your abdomen can add support. For back sleepers, try a pillow under your knees. Don’t stress about alignment, just find a position that’s comfortable for you. 
  • Support your circadian rhythm. Spend time outside in the morning and afternoon, even on overcast days. When you’re inside, open the shade and curtains to make your living and work space bright and lit up. In the evening, dim your lights and minimize screentime before bed. 

The more of these strategies you can use and the sooner you start, the better your sleep will be. Sleep hygiene is safe and supported by science. Unlike other sleep strategies, it’s free from side effects!

It’s all about progress, not perfection. Do the best you can each night, and you’ll be setting yourself up for less pain and better, more restful sleep.

“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake.” 

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