Pain and sleep.

Pain can disrupt sleep, but so can pain medication. Understanding the link between pain and sleep and how to manage your pain at night can help your overall quality of life.

Disturbed sleep

Pain can disturb your sleep. You might sleep lighter, wake up during the night and you may struggle to go back to sleep once awake. Unfortunately, because lack of sleep can make you more sensitive to pain, disturbed sleep can also make your pain increase.

If you have chronic pain you may feel tired through the day which can result in the inability to exercise or follow a good diet.

Pain medication and sleep

Some pain medication may carry side effects that interfere with sleep. Opioid-based pain medication like Codeine, Morphine, Tramadol and Oxycodone can increase or cause breathing problems during sleep and antidepressant drugs may increase leg restlessness. In turn this can result in the use of sleeping tablets. Before accessing sleeping tablets contact your GP or visit your pharmacist to talk through other options.

How to sleep when dealing with pain

There are some things you can do to increase your chances of a good night’s sleep:

  • Try to relax, this can help reduce tension in the body that may increase pain. You could try a warm bath or deep breathing exercises
  • Some distraction techniques, such as listening to music
  • Try and practice mindfulness meditation. Pillows under your legs, hips or knees can help improve comfort in bed
  • Anxiety and stress can increase the way you experience pain, therefore learning to manage your anxiety at night is just as important as through the day
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Good sleeping habits

Setting healthy sleep habits can help to give you the best opportunity for a sleepless night.

  • Set a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night
  • Create a bedtime ritual by doing the same thing every night before bed
  • If you can try and exercise at least two hours before bed
  • Eating a healthy diet can help with sleep and try not to eat a large meal just before you go to bed
  • Limit caffeine and avoid nicotine as these acts at stimulants and can interfere with sleep
  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • Limit the use of your phone, tv, laptop and game consoles immediately before going to bed

Have you been on pain medication for more than 3 months?

It’s time to book a pain review with a pharmacist or GP at your practice.

Book a review

Are you a healthcare professional?

Help us raise awareness of the potential dangers of prescription pain medication.

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