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25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People Manage Painsomnia

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“Painsomnia” is a term often used within the chronic illness community to describe the frustrating but all-too-relatable experience of being unable to sleep due to pain. Even if you feel exhausted or fatigued, sometimes the pain is enough to keep you tossing and turning at all hours of the night.

To help those struggling to find relief, we asked our Mighty community to share some of the unexpected coping techniques that help them manage their painsomnia. Maybe some of the following suggestions can help you drift off to sleep a bit easier tonight.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I listen to guided meditations on YouTube! My favorites are the ones where they instruct you to breathe in a certain pattern and contract/relax certain muscles. I’m usually asleep within the hour.”

2. “Pressure blankets help me (not hot – still a lot of weight) and lots of pillows. I also do hot baths at random times of the night when my nerves go spastic because of pain and exhaustion.”

3. “I have a salt lamp I leave on at night rather than a ‘night light’ so that it’s a more soothing light.”

4. “Regular use of melatonin [and] never changing my sleep routine which includes my two warm cuddling purr babies. They make the biggest difference when you wake up in pain. One kitty has his bed beside my pillow and lays so at least one foot is touching my face/neck – and I get purrs right into my ear. The other kitty tends to either lie against my legs or if I’m restless or in pain he will lie against my body and I get the vibrations from the purrs. Works almost every time.”

5. “Laundry in the middle of the night. My mum has RA [rheumatoid arthritis], and always did laundry (to cope with her painsomnia) when we were sleeping. Now I do it too. Something about the dryer sound is soothing.”

6. “Watching or reading something new to distract myself from the pain as much as possible. It must be new, if I’ve seen or read it before my mind can continue to fully linger on my pain.”

7. “I will sleep with ice packs for any back, neck, shoulder and hip pain and then I drink a warm cup of fennel, peppermint, ginger, camomile tea for the bloated stomach pain and nausea.”

8. “Prayer is the first line of defense for me. I also have a few trusted friends I can talk/vent to and who will also pray with me. I have to get outside of myself or I will be more miserable.”

9. “I have hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and when I am in pain, I spray it into my hands and rub it onto where I hurt. (It’s usually my knees since that is where my RA affects me most.) I got this trick from my Grandpa who also suffered from arthritis.”

10. “I color in Jenny Lawson’s book ‘You Are Here.’ I also do guided meditation on the Stop, Breathe & Think app.”

11. “Lots and lots of ‘daydreaming.’ Making stories up in my head to distract [myself].”

12. “Blogging! Seriously, since starting my blog and now Facebook page, it’s a really good outlet when my painsomnia is bad. I’ve found that sometimes when I’m awake at 3 a.m., rather than getting upset, I start drafting a post on my phone. And sometimes I write for a few minutes, sometimes I write a whole post, but it helps, putting things into words just helps. It makes me feel like my pain isn’t for nothing.”

13. “Snuggling with my partner. There’s something so soothing about him absently rubbing my head in his sleep. It tends to calm me down and help me sleep more than I normally would.”

14. “I’ve started listening to audiobooks. I used to be an avid reader but holding books can dislocate my fingers now and strains my neck along with worsening my migraines. Usually after a few chapters of an audiobook I’m out like a light. The LibriVox app has been a lifesaver.”

15. “I take my meds, set myself as comfy as I can get in bed. Listen to Pandora, and play my puzzle games on my tablet. My tablet has been a lifesaver. I know lots of people say no electronics in bed. I swear it keeps my mind off the pain until I can get to sleep.”

16. “It sounds obvious, but deep breathing. I take several deep breaths, holding it in and pushing it out slowly while focusing only on the back of my eyelids. If my mind wanders I bring it back and start over. Pretty similar to (or it might actually be) meditation.”

17. “My dog is a reaaaally big help. It actually hurts too much to play with him at these moments, but his joy helps. Stuffed animals do the trick too.”

18. “Cannabis, lots of cannabis… I wish I could think of anything else but having been through the entire gamut of things they can prescribe, I stand by this 110 percent.”

19. “I put all of my favorite movies in my room. When it’s too much, I watch to try to take my mind off the pain.”

20. “Look, I’m just going to say it. Orgasms totally help. They kind of help recalibrate my brain or something and I’m able to get a handle on my pain when before my body and brain were both freaking out. It’s no cure but it helps a lot of the time.”

21. “I use my hot tub before bed so my muscles relax and I try to fall asleep before my muscles stiffen again and I start aching.”

22. “Foam roller is my best friend! I use it when it’s too painful to sit. I will prop myself up against it and it helps.”

23. “Something that has been really helpful is my occupational therapist recommended a wand ‘massager’ like a Hitachi wand to ‘confuse the nerves’ with the strong vibrations. Because of the rubber head I can really push it into my trigger points during a flare and it will help relax them after a while without as much bruising. I have fallen asleep lying with that under my right glute several times in the last month.”

24. “I write. I’m an author, and it helps me get away from reality. My doctor gave me amitriptyline. I take two pills for the days I’m desperate to sleep, but usually I take one every other day and it takes a few hours to kick in. But I eventually drift off. No matter what. My tablet helps during the time the pills are kicking in and I can’t hold a pen.”

25. “I scream at the top of my lungs. Feels good to let it out!”

25 Unexpected Coping Techniques That Help People Manage Painsomnia
Originally published: July 13, 2017
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