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How to Improve Your Sleep Tonight

There is no doubt that many of us in the chronic pain and illness community can find it exceedingly difficult to fall and stay asleep. Painsomnia, stress, intrusive thoughts, so many other factors. Our restless nights can disrupt the sleep cycles of those around us too. Suddenly everyone in the house is suffering from sleep deprivation and the world descends into chaos.

Please keep in mind that a lack of sleep can be inevitable with chronic illnesses. While these tips can help in general, they may not help your particular situation. You know you best. Please speak with you doctor if you find nothing is helping you to get more rest.

Restlessness can stem from different things and it’s important to pinpoint what the cause is. It may help to keep track of your restlessness in a journal which may show patterns that reveal what’s keeping you awake at night. Although it’s not a long-term solution, there are some things you can stop doing in order to get some better rest. Stop doing these three things if you want to step up your sleep game.

  • Stop eating after dinner
  • Stop smoking
  • Stop sleeping on your back

Easier said than done, right?

Your diet might be keeping you awake

Eating late at night can cause digestive issues, like heartburn, or give you a burst of energy right before bedtime. Too much caffeine can be bad for your sleep patterns. Caffeinated beverages can (and probably will) mess up your sleep cycle, making it difficult to achieve a restful nights sleep. Which usually means more caffeine the next day. Rinse and repeat. Drinking too much in general may also result in interrupted sleep as you may have to use the bathroom frequently throughout the night. Say goodbye to any good, quality sleep.

It is important to remember that you don’t process any nutrients while sleeping. So, stop eating and drinking after your evening meal to ensure your digestive system is actually ready to relax when bedtime comes.

Smoking will interfere with your sleep cycle

We all know that smoking is bad for your health. Lung cancer, emphysema, respiratory diseases, etc. Otherwise, nicotine is a stimulant which can override your sleep cycle and fool you into thinking it’s time to become active, when in actuality you should be winding down and sleeping. Smoking can also decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood, making it harder for your body to recover overnight. Again, you’ll wake up still tired and repeat the cycle until you quit smoking.

Sleeping on your back can lead to sleep disruptions

Personally, laying on my back is a huge trigger for my restless legs syndrome. It also tends to be more active in the evenings as it is without adding to the irritations. Regardless of something like this though, sleeping on your back can increase symptoms of sleep apnea. You are even more prone to sleep apnea if you suffer from obesity as well as it can cause soft tissues in the throat to collapse during sleep. This tends to happen more frequently when lying on your back. When you are constantly being awakened by the symptoms of sleep apnea or something like restless legs syndrome, you again will enter the vicious cycle of waking up exhausted and not being capable of restful sleep at night.

Restless nights can certainly lead to a higher level of stress throughout the day. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough sleep in order to avoid this. Or at least trying to. If you are aware that you snack after dinner, try skipping that snack to see if your sleep improves. Obviously, quit smoking if that is applicable to you. Regardless of how you sleep. If you know you sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side. This isn’t easy to do, so use pillows to prevent you from rolling back over or ask your significant other to keep an eye on you.

Addressing any of these three issues has potential to improve your quality of sleep. Better sleep can mean less stress which can mean even more sleep. This is a much more kind and beneficial cycle to be stuck in. Not to mention better management of chronic pain and illness.

Check out the rest of the Sleep Better While Stressed series:

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Stop Doing These Three Things to Sleep Better