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Getting a good night’s sleep with long-term pain

A lady asleep in bed

Pain often affects getting off to sleep or interrupts it. A lack of sleep frequently results in feeling more pain, which adds to an unhealthy cycle of losing sleep because of pain. Setting up a regular bedtime routine can improve your ability to sleep. Your occupational therapist can discuss different approaches with you and identify areas that might improve your sleep.

People often automatically consider sleeping medications if they’re struggling with sleep. These are probably only partly effective for most people and aren’t best for long-term sleep problems. On the other hand, there are highly effective psychological methods for improving sleep. If altering your night-time routine alone isn’t enough, once again methods of CBT can be useful.

If you find that you’re spending long hours in bed and not sleeping during many of those hours, or if you’re sleeping more than you want during the day, this is referred to as having low ‘sleep efficiency’. This literally means that for the time you spend trying to get sleep you aren’t getting enough.

Treatment to reverse this pattern includes using methods that combine or ‘compress’ all of your sleep time into night time hours, helping you to first sleep efficiently and set up a regular pattern of being asleep and awake, and then later to sleep enough. Your GP or a psychologist can help you with this if you ask for more information on CBT for insomnia.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.