According to Robert Bolash, M.D. at the Department of Pain Management at Cleveland Clinic, “Pain worsens sleep patterns and sleep disturbances worsen pain–it’s a vicious cycle.” As insomnia continues it can cause pain to worsen, which in turn contributes to difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, says Bolash.
At The Sleep Disorders Center in Cleveland, literally hundreds of patients are seen with insomnia and various pain disorders. Psychologists and physicians at the Center explain how important it is to try to find out underlying causes of sleep disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease commonly have sleep disorders as well.
Dr. Bolash explains that treating chronic pain and insomnia at his center usually involves a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals.
Tips for insomnia and chronic pain:
Avoid Opioid painkillers which can disrupt the sleep pattern by preventing deep sleep (even after as little as one dose).
Avoid caffeinated drinks or alcohol before bedtime and limit overall intake of alcohol and caffeine.
Creating a completely quiet environment may increase pain, consider using distractions such as listening to books on tape or music.
For chronic insomnia, consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which can help people change thinking patterns (such as negative thoughts or worry) that interferes with sleep. CBT has been shown to help in 70 to 80% of patients with insomnia.
Consider learning about relaxation techniques such as muscle relaxation, guided imagery or meditation.
Use the bedroom ONLY for sleep, avoid watching T.V. or using the bed for reading or other activities.
If unable to go to sleep, after 15 to 20 minutes, go in the other room, then return to the bed again when you feel sleepy.
Get plenty of physical exercise (but not right before bed) be sure to consult with the physician before starting any new work out program.
Get fresh air, go for a walk or do some gardening.
Get up at the same time every day regardless of how many hours of sleep you get.
Learn more about the importance of sleep and exercise for Alzheimer’s prevention by CLICKING HERE to join our free 25 lesson course for caregivers at AlzU.org today.