The Plan to Stop Pain From Keeping You Awake at Night

Follow this plan from Dr. Michael Breus to sleep through the night, even with pain.

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Dr. Breus' Bedtime Routine to End Insomnia (1:55)

Is pain keeping you up at night? You might not even realize it, but you could be losing almost an hour of sleep each night. Tackle both pain and sleep issues with this simple plan from Dr. Michael Breus and you’ll be snoozing through the night in no time.

 Step 1: Lower Your Anxiety

Anxiety is a hidden byproduct of pain that can wreck your sleep. Patients with pain can distract themselves all day, but at night they’re faced with what pains them.  To help ease your anxiety, get 15 minutes of bright light when you wake up in the morning and in the early afternoon. Doing this will regulate your internal body clock, which controls sleep and mood, and will result in good quality sleep at the desired time and a boost in your mood, all of which will help fight your pain.

Step 2: Tackle Pain and Sleep Together With OTC Medication

If you only take a sleep aid, you’re not promoting the healing of pain; and some pain meds contain caffeine, which, when taken on their own, will keep you awake. So, fight both problems at once by taking an over-the-counter combination of ibuprofen and a sleep aid 30 minutes before you go to bed.

You should continue this combination until the pain improves – this should happen in about 10 days. With more sleep, your body can heal itself more and calm down the inflammation that may be causing the pain. However, if your pain and sleeplessness last for more than one month, you should reconsider what might be causing your sleep disruption.

Step 3: Position Your Pillow to Alleviate Pain

Depending on what pains you, sleep in the following way:

  • Back pain: Lie on your side, bring your knees up to your chest and put your pillow between your legs.
  • Neck pain: Lie on your back and place a flatter pillow under your neck and head, making sure it doesn’t touch your shoulders.
  • Hip pain: Lie on your back and place a pillow under your knees to pull the pressure under your pelvis.

Dr. Breus also recommends positioning your thoughts when you position your pillow as a way to help relieve anxiety. Pain and sleep sufferers tend to worry about not getting enough rest and sometimes a reality check can help make nighttime worries less daunting. So, ask yourself, “In the past week, how many times did that occur?” It will probably be less than you think.