Barbara shares in this article her personal experience with sleep, or rather, the lack thereof.
I do not know how to express my need for good sleep. If I get a good night of sleep, I can handle my pain so much better. I am sure we all have this need and are also aware of how difficult it is to get good sleep when you are dealing with chronic pain. Sleep medicines can do the trick, but should only be done under the supervision of your doctor. Even over-the-counter (OTC) are not to be used without care.
These medications may help you sleep, but if you take them for an extended period of time and stop, your problem will be worse. This is called the rebound effect. Even the OTC variety can give you a ‘hangover’ the next day. The search for a good sleep medicine, without dangerous side effects, is an ongoing search in the pharmaceutical world.
Those individuals dealing with chronic pain are usually not able to get in the heavy-duty exercise that will bring on sleep naturally. For some, just walking from room to room is a challenge. I am in a classroom for 5 hours 3 days a week. I am fine while in the classroom, as teaching is my passion, but as soon as I leave there my feet and legs feel as if they are made of lead. To be physically able to do this I need 9-10 hours of sleep.
I was able to join a gym that had a pool for a short time, run by our local hospital. They had a hoist that enabled those in wheelchairs to be let down into the therapy pool. This one individual, once she was in the pool, was able to stand and do the water version of Tai Chi exercises. Perhaps there is something similar in your area.
There are forms of chair exercises one can do, as well as yoga for the chair bound. Here is where your attitude and perseverance come in. If you were able to do the above, do you even care? I know I can get myself to take walks, but my self-discipline needs strengthening when it comes to plain old exercise. I have a nicely designed list on my wall. I see it every day! Do I do it, even a part of it daily? I wish I could say yes. I know it helps me sleep better, but… I am trying to improve!
I cannot take many prescribed medication. The last time I tried, I ended up taking 4 pills just to be able to take the one they felt I needed. I said “No way!” I have to make use of my mind to find my sleep. Meditation, the soft sound of the waves and even a mp3 hypnosis app make up my arsenal for getting to sleep. This is after I strap on my Oracle sleep mask, hook it up to the hose and turn on the machine. Not too long ago though, I woke up wondering what was wrong. I had done everything but turn on the machine! Way to go, Barb!!
I know I have not given you any real revealing bits of knowledge about sleep here, other than mentioning its importance. Outside of your pain regimen, this is the one other area that must be discussed and strictly followed according to the directions of your doctor.
In the near future, a resource page will be put together with listing of videos, apps, and other activities that can help us on our journey with this thing called chronic pain. If you know of one, use one and like it… share it with us to be put on the list. We are in this journey together. Yes, we are all on different levels, but it is still the same journey and sharing what we know with each other is a good thing.
Barbara Zarrella, Florida, USA
We hope that you enjoyed this article. If you like Barbara’s writing, you can find more on her personal blog.
If you would like to share parts of your own chronic pain journey, insights or some good articles with other patients, please send us the according texts or links to firstname.lastname@example.org