Dealing with Chronic Back Pain and the Benefits of Getting a Good Nights Sleep
As per Webster’s Dictionary the medical definition of Insomnia is: “prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep”.
The term Insomnia includes all types of sleeping problems, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking up much earlier than desired. Pain is the number one cause of insomnia. People with chronic back pain, trouble falling asleep is a commonly known type of sleep disruption, waking up during the night and waking up earlier than desired are frequent problems as well. In addition, individuals experiencing chronic back pain problems reportedly awake in the morning feeling tired as if they had not slept at all, the medical field calls this sleeping problem “non-restorative sleep.” Disrupted sleep exacerbates chronic back pain, Your body’s immune response and cognitive functions are hampered due to the lack of restorative sleep. A vicious cycle develops in which back pain disrupts your sleep, and the lack of sleep has the tendency to make the pain worse, this then causes more sleeping difficulty. The most common type of Chronic Pain reported is Chronic Back Pain. Click here for a great book on healing Chronic Back Pain. Medical statistics show that among individuals younger than 45 the most common cause of physical disability is Chronic Back Pain. The statistics also reveal that 50% of these individuals report their inability to sleep due to their back pain. The bottom line is if you improve your chances of getting a good nights sleep chances are you’ll experience improvement in your Chronic Back Pain. Click here for recommended essential oils to relieve chronic back pain. Now let’s look at some avenues to lessen the problems we experience with Insomnia.
Options available to reduce Insomnia
- Herbal Supplements: Before I get into my discussion I must say that there are many Natural and Herbal Dietary Supplements used as remedies for sleep disorders. But you must keep in mind these sleeping aids are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). It’s always a good practice to treat any non-FDA regulated substance taken orally as a drug. You should always discuss with your doctor prior to taking any/all sleeping aids that are not prescribed. Your doctor can and will investigate any potential adverse side effects that may occur. There are two commonly used Herbal Supplements that are OTC sleeping aid: 1). Melatonin: My career for 25 years required me to travel internationally. These commuter trips were on a rotational basis 28 days on and 28 days off from Houston, TX to the Far East to Houston, TX, it was a two day commute going and coming. I suffered from ‘jet-lag’ and found it almost impossible to get some quality sleep. My employer’s medical department provided us commuters with medical kits. One of the items was Melatonin to taken as a sleeping aid. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the human body by the ‘pineal gland’ about the size of a green pea located just above the middle of our brain. Melatonin hormone regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. I found that Melatonin’s ability to make me sleepy was a hit and miss if I was in the foreign country. But the sleep aid did work better when I was back home. 2). Valerian: This supplement is derived from the valerian plant and is sometimes taken as a sleeping aid. Valerian is often combined with melatonin, and other herbs that cause drowsiness such as passion flower, skull cap, and chamomile. Research shows that Valerian generally doesn’t appear to cause side effects. I have not taken valerian as a sleeping aid.
- Prescription Sleep Medications / OTC Sleeping Aids Discussion: I personally know how Chronic Back Pain affected my ability of getting a good nights sleep, sound beneficial sleep, the type sleep that when you awake you feel recharged. After months of lack of sleep I discussed my issues of Insomnia with my doctor, after ruling out sleep apnea being my problem, I requested that any sleeping medication prescribed to be non-narcotic. There are prescription medications available for sleep disorders that are non-narcotic. I have been able to get restful sleep by taking this prescribed non-narcotic sleeping medication. I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to mention the names of prescribed drugs. My best advice is to consult your doctor for his/her professional advice. Now, there are so many OTC (over the counter) brands of sleeping aids, but as a rule, these sleeping aids are formulated into some form of pain reliever. I tried my share of these OTC products only too experience serious difficulties of getting to sleep. It was as if I had taken something to keep me awake. So care needs to be taken when it comes to taking any OTC product. Always read the labeled directions for dosage and any potential side effects if listed. It has become a common practice for me to go online and research any/all medications or supplements for possible adverse side effects.
- Good Dental Hygiene: An excellent recommendation and a good practice is the maintain good dental hygiene prior to going to bed. Keeping your teeth and gums in good health pays enormous dividends as we age. I believe that you’ll find that if you practice good dental hygiene your quality and quantity of sleep will improve. Better sleep equals less pain.
- Bedtime Routine: There’s many ways to improve our chances of achieving a good nights rest. The following is some recommendations or practices for you to consider: 1). If you’re not sleepy do not go to bed. A good rule of thumb is after going to bed if you’ve not managed to get drowsy enough to fall asleep after 20 to 25 minutes, get out of bed. By lying in best restless cause undue stress and irritation. Go relax by reading a good book, paper version not electronic. Checking text messages or emails is definitely not relaxing. Once you feel drowsy go back to bed. 2). Avoid the use of electronic devices, laptops, iPads, iPhones, and tablets just prior to going to bed: All of these devices have been proven to cause insomnia due to the type of light they emit. Watching television in the bedroom is an absolute given that you’re not going to go to sleep, turn the television off. 3). Good Habits for a restful sleep: Taking a warm soaking bath or shower prior to going to bed, Eating a light meal or at least giving your body time to process the evening meal prior to going to bed, Reading or Listening to some music. The more we practice a good bedtime routine the better chances we have to the body getting knowing it’s time to sleep. 4). Bedroom Restful Environment: Keeping the room temperature to a level that’s not too cool or not too hot is very important. The bedroom should be dark – Absolutely no night lights are recommended. Two most crucial items are your mattress and pillows. There are so many choices out there today when it comes to selection of mattresses and the cost can be astounding. But my experience has been do not skimp on the amount you pay for your mattress. I’ve slept on a Tempurpedic Mattresses now for the past 15 years and at this point, this is my favorite. Pillows, there’s another animal, the selection of a good pillow remains to be a bit of a beast for me. I find it to be up to the individual’s comfort zone. Unnecessary noises must be eliminated if your intentions are getting a good nights sleep. Examples that I can immediately attest to are; Tinnitus (Constant ringing in the ears), Noisy Ceiling Fans, Noisy wall clocks, Chirping fire and smoke detectors, Squeaking bed frame supports, and last but not least Snoring Spouse or Pet. I had to overcome two of the noise issues. #1). Tinnitus: The early years of my oil industry career I was exposed to severe engine noise from drilling rigs to high pressure stimulation trucks. During those early years there was minimal, if any, noise reduction ear protection products available. Tinnitus issues did not begin until I was in my early fifties. Most of the time I manage to ignore the constant ringing until I find myself in a totally quiet surroundings and it’s difficult to manage my concentration. #2). We have an aging dog that can really vibrate the bedroom when he gets into a deep sleep with his snoring. So to level the playing field my wife purchased one of the bedside sound wave devices and I experience 100% sound sleep now. Click on the link here for the device we swear by.
Healthy Sleep/Wake Cycle Fundamentals
- A consistent bedtime sleeping/waking routine. Going to bed at the same time each night then getting up at the same time each morning every day of the week helps the body develop a healthy sleep-wake cycle. This is crucial even if one had difficulty falling asleep or awakening throughout the night. One of the most common disrupted sleep-wake patterns for the Chronic Back Pain sufferer is getting sleep when I can. In this situation, an individual who did not get to sleep until after midnight may compensate by sleeping until noon. This is definitely a counterproductive pattern, if this type routine continues unabated, the sleep-wake cycle becomes much more disrupted.
- Avoid Day Time Naps. Naps during the day most definitely disrupts the ability to achieve a healthy sleep/wake cycle.
- Maintaining a regular schedule. If someone with Chronic Back Pain problems continues to work, it’s much easier to maintain a routine schedule. But if someone that has experienced disability due to Chronic Back Pain must make every effort toward maintaining a daily routine. Such as eating meals at the same time every day, performing any other normal activities at regularly scheduled times, and staying consistent with your pre-bedtime routine.
- Stop extraneous exercising a minimum of 4 hours before bedtime. The back needs exercise to keep it loose and is good for back pain. But care should be taken to avoid such activities a minimum of 4 hours prior to bed time. This allows the body to relax is more conducive to achieving restful sleep. Now when it comes to exercises such as yoga there’s no issues. Yoga type exercises have been found to achieve relaxation and ultimately helps with good sleep regimen. All cardiovascular type exercises should be stopped at least 6 hours before bedtime.
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