Quality Sleep

Many patients who suffer with chronic pain will feel that they have trouble going to sleep and trouble staying asleep. At the same time however, lack of sleep can affect your ability to cope with pain. This leads to a vicious circle of decreased sleep and more pain. It is therefore important that you adopt good sleeping habits to improve your sleep and your ability to cope with pain.


  • Set a bed routine (Go to bed & get up from bed at the same time each day)
  • Exercise each day, preferably in the morning. Be sure to include stretching and aerobic exercise
  • Get regular exposure to outdoor or bright lights, especially in the late afternoon
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable
  • Keep the bedroom quiet when sleeping. If your bed-partner/room is noisy, use ear-plugs
  • Keep the bedroom dark enough to facilitate sleep
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex
  • Take medications as directed. It is often helpful to take prescribed sleeping pills one to two hours before bedtime, so they are causing drowsiness when you lie down, or 10 hours before getting up, to avoid daytime drowsiness.
  • Use a relaxation exercise just before going to sleep. Muscle relaxation, imagery, massage, warm bath, etc.
  • Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed.


  • Exercise just before going to bed
  • Engage in stimulating activity just before bed, (i.e. playing a competitive game, watching exciting tv programs or movies, or having an important discussion with a loved one)
  • Have caffeine in the evening (coffee, many teas, chocolate, sodas, etc.)
  • Read or watch television in bed
  • Use alcohol to help you sleep
  • Go to bed too hungry or too full. Your last full meal should be at least three hours before bed. A light carbohydrate rich snack before bed may be okay
  • Take another person's sleeping pills
  • Take over-the-counter sleeping pills, without your doctor's knowledge. Tolerance can develop rapidly with these medications. Diphenhydramine (an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter sleep medications) can have serious
  • side effects for elderly patients
  • Take daytime naps. If you feel you must tap a nap, restrict the nap to 20-30 minutes (use an alarm clock). This will be sufficient to make you feel refreshed but should not affect your nighttime sleep
  • Command yourself to go to sleep. This only makes your mind and body more alert
  • If you lie in bed awake for more than 20-30 minutes, get up, go to a different room (or different part of the bedroom), participate in a quiet activity (e.g. non-excitable reading or television), then return to bed when you feel sleepy. Do this as many times during the night as needed.