As summer has come to a close and fall is fast approaching, school is back in session and the stress levels have begun to steadily climb. In order to get everything done for school, work, and family life, we grasp for more hours in our day usually sacrificing time sleep.
Recent research has shown that a decrease in one night of sleep can lead to more aches and pains the next day (Finan 2013). What is even more interesting is that this relationship with pain and sleep is not a two way street. When you lay down at night and notice your back is bothering you, this may not be the main reason you are tossing and turning throughout the night. There may be other factors that play into the mix if you are sleeping poorly than just pain.
It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep at night. What is equally important is also the quality of sleep you are getting during those hours. In order to calculate the quality of sleep you are getting following the equation below:
(Total sleep time) – (Total time to fall asleep) – (Total time awake during the night)
/Total time asleep
If you are not hitting the marks on these two parameters, here are some tips for how to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep:
- Have a set sleep and wake time – try not to vary these on the weekends
- Avoid naps especially if you have difficulty with falling asleep
- Don’t force sleep – if you are unable to fall asleep after 10-15 minutes leave the room and try to do something relaxing in a dark room like mediating but do not look at screens
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm
- Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of going to sleep
- Exercise is good for sleep but avoid completing 3-4 hours before going to bed
- Avoid heavy meals before going to bed
- Minimize light, noise, and excessive temperatures in the bedroom
- 15 minutes of morning sun helps regulate melatonin and circadian rhythms
For more detailed information on the benefits of sleep not just for pain but a whole host of other issues I strongly recommend reading: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
- Finan PH, Goodin B, Smith MT . The association of sleep and pain: an update and a path forward. 2013. J Pain. 14(12): 1539-1552.
- Breus MJ. How to Sleep Better. https://thesleepdoctor.com/how-to-sleep-better/
- Walker, Matthew. Why we sleep.2018. Penguin Books.