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5 Things to Do When Painsomnia Hits


Dealing with insomnia or painsomnia (insomnia triggered by pain) can be exhausting. Not only are you physically exhausted from sleeplessness, but you are also likely dealing with pure boredom. Most healthy people are asleep during the hours of your restlessness, so you are probably lonely, too. Insomnia is isolating and tiring, the evidence being this very op-ed (it’s 3:06 a.m. as I’m typing this very sentence). Here are five things that, in my experience, help get me through yet another sleepless night.

1. Find a binge-worthy television show.

Whether it’s a cutesy and light cartoon or an intellectual thriller, make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy. A good show can take your mind off the pain or help alleviate some boredom. I’m partial to a few at the moment: truTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything” on Netflix, ABC’s “Revenge” on Hulu and Fox’s “The X-Files” on Hulu.

2. Connect with people in other time zones.
As the song goes, it’s “5 O’Clock Somewhere!” There are all kinds of communities for people with chronic illness, be it Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, POTS or even just general insomnia. Along with The Mighty, there are tons of Facebook groups, subreddits and Discord servers to choose from.

3. Pick up a hobby that isn’t overly strenuous.
The last thing you want is to aggravate any pain or worsen exhaustion, but a gentle hobby can help pass time if there isn’t anything else to do. Drawing, writing, or anything you enjoy is a plus. I’ve recently picked up nail art, which is quite fun if you’re a detail-oriented person like me.

4. Find a fun, free class online through a service like Coursera or iTunes U.

Not only will you further your learning, but you will also be distracted from your pain. Most of the classes involve videos and reading assignments. There are hundreds of topics to choose from. Learn a new topic or expand your knowledge on a favorite subject!

5. Write for The Mighty!
Each and every one of us has a unique perspective on our specific conditions, and each one is valuable to furthering awareness. Your suggestions and opinions are important. Sharing them on a website like this one means you may be able to reach and help in ways you never knew were possible.

When I first started having trouble sleeping at night, I found myself at a loss for what to do with my time. After a few days of being asleep during the day but awake at night, and not having any idea how to cope, my mother made a comparison that really helped. She said, “Your body is effectively on the night shift. You just have to adjust accordingly.” I realized that, really, the time of day that I do things doesn’t matter. As long as they are still things I enjoy, doing them when I can’t sleep is OK.

Image Credits: KrisCole

Photo by KrisCole via Getty Images.