Sleep Hygiene

Click here for excellent article on sleep from the Interstitial Cystitis Association 

 

Sleep Hygiene Tips

By Alex Milspaw, M.Ed,  

 

       The average adult mind requires at least 7-9 hours of sleep for full optimal functioning. When coping with chronic pain, long periods of sleep often becomes impossible.  Furthermore, the body becomes extremely fatigued from the constant physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stress of living with chronic pain.  Therefore, even if you do get hours of sleep, the body still feels tired upon waking.  Increasing sleep hygiene is critical in helping the body rest and rejuvenate, which aids in the healing process.  Following many of the suggestions below will help retrain your mind to not only increase your length of sleep, but also help deepen the state of relaxation during your sleeping hours.  The more steps you are able to fit into your routine, the more rejuvenated your body will feel.  As with any process, you must allow your body time to learn and welcome these new sleep habits. (It takes 21 days for your mind to retrain itself.) Over time, you will find that your body and mind feel more rested and your immune system will strengthen.

 

The following tips will help retrain your mind to learn when it is time to go to sleep. Over the past few months (and possibly years) your mind has learned that bed time is perhaps another time of stress. You may prepare yourself to wake up multiple times during the night to empty your bladder or tend to your pain.  This prediction can lead to the anticipation and therefore a higher likelihood of your mind waking you up throughout the night. Again, allow your mind and body time to get into these new habits and you will find the results rewarding!  We are providing you with a sleep journal to help you keep track of your activities before bed and how you feel the next morning.  This journal will help you monitor which tips work best for you. Remember, new habits take time. Be patient with yourself and with your body. Sweet dreams!

 

  • Schedule your sleep time and stick to it. 
    • If your sleep time is 10pm to 6am, then at 10pm turn your lights off, lay down, close your eyes, and begin to allow your body to relax into the support beneath you. Even if you are still thinking, stay in bed! Getting up and watching tv, turning on the computer, or having something to eat will only serve to delay your sleep time. In fact, those activities only serve to increase your awakened state.
  • Bright lights, TV, computer off at least 1 hour before sleep time
    • Research shows that blue light sources heighten the mind’s sensitivity to stimulation and excess thoughts
  • Read or journal at least 30 minutes before bed – keep a notepad next to your bed
    • Journaling is often extremely helpful in calming the mind before sleep time. Write down any thoughts, feelings, sensations you are experiencing in that moment. This helps the mind know that it doesn’t have to continue thinking about it because you’ve written it down!
  • Prepare the room to be dark and cool
    • Turn off the night lights, close the curtains to shield outside street lamps, and turn the room temperature down to at least 65-68° F. A warm or hot room can serve to keep the mind in a heightened state of awareness, limiting its ability to fall into a deeper sleep
  • No kids or animals in the bed
    • The last thing you need is someone else waking you up when your own mind and body are struggling to stay asleep.  If you must have your child in your bedroom, set up a separate bed space next to yours.
  • No alcohol 1-2 hours before bed (limit need to empty bladder in the middle of the night)
  • No water 1 hour before bed (again, limiting need to empty bladder)
  • No caffeine (or decrease/taper off as much as possible) after 5PM
  • Stretching and relaxation exercises 30 minutes before sleep time
    • Stretching and physical therapy exercises increase blood flow to your nerves and muscles, which help warm and sooth them before going to sleep.
  • Increase regular aerobic exercises to 3-5 times per week
  • Do not exercise after 7PM
  • No spicy foods after 7PM
  • No naps over 15-20 minutes
  • Warm bath before bed
  • Hot water, decaffeinated tea

 

 

Sleep Diary

Use the space below to keep track of your pre-sleep time activity, the time you went to bed, and reflections on the night’s sleep the next day upon waking. Over the next 21 days, you may notice your mind’s ability to slow down quicker, and your body’s ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for a longer period of time.

Date                       Pre-sleep time activity                        Time in bed           Comments

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