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Sleep disturbance is an important factor in people who go on to develop pain and poor sleep patterns is a well documented problem in people who have ongoing pain.

Of all treatment strategies for ongoing (persistent, or what used to be called ‘chronic’) pain restoring a healthy sleep pattern may be the most beneficial and provide long lasting benefits.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults sleep 7 – 9 hours per day, but on average most of us average only 6.1

Here are some strategies that should be relatively easy to implement. It is advised that you add one extra strategy per night.

Set a sensible bed time and stick to it (no, 1 am is not an option)

Lights & TV/Screens Off – Lights and screens (TV, PC, iPad, iPhone etc.) stimulate the nervous system. Turn off all screens one hour prior to bed time.

No daytime naps – Studies show that even a 20 minute nap has a negative effect on night sleep

No caffeine after morning or early afternoon – Ideally, people with persistent pain should attempt to wean themselves completely off caffeine as there is an association between caffeine and muscle tenderness.

In the hour prior to bed – relax, breathe, meditate and read

Park your ideas – If you have a lot on your mind you may consider keeping a note pad by your bed. Write all thoughts and issues down. Give your brain permission to ‘park’ these ideas for the night and let go until the morning.

Darken and cool your room – Melatonin is a hormone which helps sleep and it works best when a room is cool and dark. Turn your bedroom radiator down.

No kids or animals in bed – extra movement and body heat can disturb your sleep

No alcohol – Alcohol is a double edged sword. It may be a relaxant, but it prevents deep sleep and night time toilet visits will impair sleep patterns.

Limit water intake in the evening – Hydration is of course important, but avoid large volumes of liquid right before bed to minimise night time toilet visits.

If you cannot fall asleep – keep your eyes closed and relax. This quiet time will quickly translate to sleep

Stay in bed – Set yourself a bed time and a get out of bed time and stick to it even if it means lying with your eyes closed. After a few days, these ‘closed-eye’ sessions will transfer into sleep (note- if staying in bed is increasing your pain then this advice is to be tailored)

Exercise - Exercise enhances sleep. One reason is that exercise flushes adrenaline and cortisol (our stress hormones) out of the blood. Both chemicals increase our alertness and hinder sleep.




Clinig Corff Ystwyth,
Park Avenue,
Aberystwyth, Wales
SY23 1PB. 

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