Resting Easier: Sleep Tips for Conquering Musculoskeletal Pain

Published February 29, 2024

Are you tossing and turning at night due to musculoskeletal pain? Are you waking up feeling more tired and achy than when you went to bed? If so, you're not alone. Pain in your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or nerves can disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to a vicious cycle of discomfort and fatigue. The CDC recommends adults get 7 or more hours of sleep per night. If you suffer from chronic arthritis, a joint injury, or a sprained muscle, then you've likely lost sleep due to musculoskeletal pain. An orthopedic doctor is a great ally in diagnosing the cause of your pain. However, even with a diagnosis and treatment plan, you still need to get enough sleep. In this article, we'll cover a few tips to get better sleep while you're recovering from injury or coping with chronic musculoskeletal pain.

trying to sleep when experiencing orthopedic pain

Understanding Musculoskeletal Pain and Sleep

Musculoskeletal pain can arise from various conditions such as arthritis, back pain, joint injuries, or conditions affecting the muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons. This pain can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position and can lead to frequent awakenings throughout the night.

Invest in a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow

One of the first steps in improving sleep with musculoskeletal pain is ensuring you have a supportive mattress and pillow. Your mattress should provide adequate support for your spine and joints, while your pillow should keep your head and neck aligned with your spine. Look for mattresses and pillows specifically designed for orthopedic support. Memory foam mattresses or ones with adjustable firmness may be particularly beneficial. Consider your weight and preferred sleeping position when choosing. Consult a sleep specialist or browse online resources for personalized recommendations.

Rule Out Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. It can contribute to poor sleep quality and exacerbate orthopedic pain. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it's essential to seek evaluation and treatment from a healthcare professional. Treatment options may include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or lifestyle changes.

Get Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial for managing orthopedic pain and improving sleep quality. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga can help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have orthopedic concerns or are an older adult.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene habits can go a long way in promoting better sleep. Some tips to improve sleep hygiene include:

  • Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

  • Put Away the Screens: Avoid stimulating activities such as watching TV or using electronic devices with blue light, which can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, white noise machines, or earplugs if necessary.

Get the Sleep You Need

In addition to the above tips, there are a few other considerations that may help improve sleep with orthopedic pain:

  • Pain Management Techniques: Pain management is huge when you need to get some zzz's. Explore various pain management techniques such as heat or cold therapy, massage, or over-the-counter pain relievers under the guidance of your healthcare provider.

  • Sleep Position: Experiment with different sleep positions to find one that minimizes pressure on your painful areas. For example, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can help align your spine and reduce back pain.

  • Diet and Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, as factors such as excess weight can exacerbate musculoskeletal pain and interfere with sleep quality. Also, consuming too much sugar, salt, caffeine, or alcohol can contribute to sleep issues.

Remember, improving sleep when you're experiencing musculoskeletal pain may take time and patience. It's essential to be consistent with your efforts and to seek guidance from healthcare professionals as needed. If you're experiencing chronic musculoskeletal pain or an orthopedic injury that is impacting your sleep, please contact the experts at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics.