Snooze Through the Pain: Your Guide to Better Z’s!

Good sleep is one of the essential foundations for overall good health. With so much research going into American sleep patterns, it has become clear that something needs to be addressed to improve the quality and duration of sleep for many people. If you’ve tried counting sheep, drinking warm milk or any number of remedies to no avail, it’s time to step up your game by looking at the reasons behind your sleep problems and fixing them.

A National Sleep Foundation survey highlighted that chronic and acute pain are significant culprits, resulting in less restful sleep. On average, chronic pain can shorten someone’s nightly sleep by over 40 minutes, and acute pain suffered in the past week can cut sleep by around 14 minutes. Here’s what you need to know about the factors that disrupt sleep – and how to fix them.

Consistency is Key

For better sleep and improved health, it’s crucial to establish a consistent bedtime routine with plenty of time allocated for a full night’s sleep. Even those suffering from pain can benefit from having a reliable sleep schedule.

“Taking control of your sleep by being motivated, setting a routine bedtime, and creating a supportive sleep environment are relevant even for those with pain,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep is a key marker of health, and good sleep habits are critical for improving the quality of life for those living with chronic or acute pain.”

The survey found that just over 20 percent of Americans are in chronic pain, while another 36 percent report experiencing some pain in the past week. These numbers indicate that a significant portion of the population deals with sleep disruptions due to pain. Individuals in pain also felt that they had less control over their sleep.

Four Keys to Better Sleep

To improve your sleeping habits, researchers emphasize the following tips:

  1. **Keep your bedroom dark._ Keeping your bedroom environment free of any light, including the light emitted from electronics, can help signal your body that it’s time for sleep. Blackout curtains, sleep masks, and turning devices off or covering their screens can make a difference.

  2. Keep noise in the bedroom to a minimum. Whether it’s traffic outside, a snoring partner, or neighborhood dogs barking, noise can be a significant deterrent to restful sleep. You can reduce these disturbances by investing in earplugs, using a white noise machine, or even doubling up with a fan or air purifier that emits a white noise.

  3. Turn down your thermostat at night. The optimal room temperature for sleep differs from person to person, but most people sleep better in a cooler environment. Lowering your thermostat, using lighter blankets, or opening a window can help maintain a more comfortable temperature for sleep. You may need to experiment to find the perfect temperature for you.

  4. Invest in a better mattress. Your mattress can make all the difference when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Everyone’s preferences vary, with some needing a firm, supportive mattress, and others preferring a softer surface. Take the time to research and invest in a mattress that suits your particular needs best.

“Understanding the importance of sleep and taking a proactive approach to bedtimes can help everyone improve their sleep, even people with pain,” says researcher Kristen Knutson. “Taking control of your sleep is an important step in taking control of your health.”

In conclusion, by focusing on these aspects of your sleep environment and routine, you can take control of factors that disrupt your sleep and transform your nights into restful and rejuvenating experiences. By doing so, you’ll take a vital step forward in improving your overall health and well-being.