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Being able to get a good night’s sleep when you have chronic pain is tricky, which makes mornings so much more difficult. Whether you have painsomnia and can’t get any sleep, or you’re tossing and turning all night, the next morning can be hell. You wake up feeling irritated, sore and lack motivation to get out of bed. It took me a while to make mornings easier and less painful, but I got there in the end.
Here are all the things you can do to make mornings with chronic pain a lot easier.
How to promote better sleep with chronic pain
To make mornings easier, you need to put things in place the night before to get the best sleep possible.
So, before we talk about the morning, we have to talk about night routines and sleep habits.
Go to bed at the same time every night
According to research, going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can aid in better sleep.
Set a reminder on your phone an hour or two before bed, to remind you it’s time to wind down and get ready for bed.
Doing this will help you get into a routine and may help you get a better night’s sleep with chronic pain.
Prepare for your morning, the night before
If you’ve got work in the morning or have an appointment the next day, prepare everything you need the night before.
Here are a few things you can prepare to make mornings easier for you.
- Iron and layout your outfit
- Meal prep your breakfast and lunch for the next day
- Layout any medication or supplements that you need to take
- Write a to-do list of the things you need to do the next day
- Pack your bag
Exercise is another thing that is useful in getting a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise for prolonged periods can improve sleep quality.
Of course, the type or amount of exercise will vary from person to person, so be sure to speak with your doctor before doing any activity.
When my pain is bearable, I like to do yoga, as it’s calming and isn’t too intense.
If you want to know more about yoga for chronic pain, you can check out this post for a little more detail.
Those of us who have chronic pain or chronic illness are typically on medication, which can make your mouth dry and make you dehydrated. Because of this, it’s important that we stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day.
Being dehydrated can also impact your sleep. According to DripDrop, this is because dehydration can reduce the amount of melatonin your body produces. Having a lack of melatonin can stop you from feeling sleepy at night and can also cause exhaustion and daytime sleepiness.
It’s also important not to drink alcohol before bed, as it can disrupt your REM sleep, which can make you enter a lighter sleep and wake up throughout the night.
Similarly, it’s also important to avoid caffeine before bed, as it is a stimulant that takes a longer time to wear off and will keep you awake a lot longer.
Having a calming night routine will help you wind down and promote relaxation so you can sleep well.
Ok, now that I’ve gone through some things that promote better sleep, let’s move on to the mornings.
How to make mornings easier with chronic pain
Take your time
Let’s be honest, mornings can be hell! Finding enough energy to get out of bed can feel near to impossible. Which is why it’s important to give yourself enough time to ease into your day.
The last thing you need to be doing in the morning is rushing around and pushing yourself.
I like to set my alarm clock a little earlier to give myself time to pace myself and not rush through my morning.
Getting up earlier allows me to have a few moments of peace, shower and get dressed and eat a nutritious breakfast and have a nice ‘cuppa’ tea.
Giving myself more time also helps me get in tune with my body, and work out how many spoons I have, so I know what I can or can’t manage for the day.
The reason I’m able to take my time and ease into my day is because I have a morning routine. The next tip will show you how you can create one, too.
Have a morning routine
Morning routines have made my morning so much easier.
Each morning, I know exactly what time I’m getting up and what I’m going to do when I’m awake.
By no means am I saying you have to create a really strict routine, jam-packed with things to do every morning.
Instead, create a routine that suits you and centres around, making your mornings with chronic pain easier.
Having a morning routine in place takes the guesswork out of mornings, and also allows you to establish a healthy routine, which sets you up for the rest of your day.
Of course, there will be days where you can’t stick to your routine, or have to make some adjustments to suit how you’re currently feeling, but that’s totally fine.
Here’s a rough idea of how my morning routine with chronic pain looks. You’ll notice there’s a good amount of time for me to do each thing. It’s also very flexible and easily adjusted depending on how I feel.
- 7am – Wake up
- 7.10am – Stretch and get out of bed
- 7.15am – Shower and get ready
- 8am – Have a hot drink, eat breakfast and take medication and supplements
- 8.20am – Write in my journal
- 8.40am – Read a few pages of a book/listen to a podcast/ or watch YouTube
- 9am – Time to start the day!
As I mentioned in my morning routine, I like to have a nice deep stretch before I actually get up and start moving.
When you first wake up, you may feel a little sore or stiff. So before you get up, do some light stretches whilst you’re still in bed.
According to Medical News Today, stretching can also help with mobility, prevent injury and make you more alert.
I’ve been journaling for a long time now, to empty my mind, organise my day and also track my chronic pain.
You may have had a really stressful day, the day before and need to vent your frustrations, or maybe you want to keep track of your chronic pain, write a to-do list or follow some journal prompts.
You can use journaling for so many purposes. Figure out what makes sense for you and give it a go.
Do something you enjoy
I used to dread waking up in the morning, but that’s because I never gave myself anything to look forward to.
Allocate some time in the morning to doing something you really enjoy. Now, I like to watch or listen to a podcast episode or read a few pages on my kindle.
Giving yourself something to look forward to works as a sort of incentive or reward for waking up in the morning. It can also act as a healthy way to distract yourself from chronic pain.
Tips and products that can make mornings easier
Natural light lamp
Mornings suck. Especially when chronic pain gets too much and you wake up in pain and feeling groggy.
I have a blackout curtain in my bedroom, meaning I’m more tempted to press snooze and go back to sleep. It’s also even easier to drift off again, when you’re on medication that makes you drowsy.
Research has proven that natural light first thing in the morning helps to wake the body up. As it suppresses melatonin secretion, which helps wake you up.
Natural light has several health benefits, such as boosting vitamin D and improving your mood.
So use natural light to help you make mornings easier.
There are so many ‘wake up light’ alarm clocks that wake you up to a light that mimics natural/sunlight. These are useful if, like me, you have blackout curtains, wake up when it’s dark, or get minimal natural light coming into your bedroom.
Music is something I can’t live without. There’s music to suit all occasions, moods and times of day.
According to this study, “music is one of a number of non-pharmacological methods of relieving chronic pain.”
It can grab your attention and shift your mind away from feelings of pain. The same study also concluded that “patients with chronic pain often have a low quality of life and music could help them to regain their sense of independence and, thus, improve their lives.”
How cool is that?!
So get your amazon music playlist full of your favourite tunes, get lost in the music, shift your mind away from pain, even if just for a little while.
Some mornings my pelvic pain is worse than usual. In those moments, I always turn to my hot water bottle or heating pad to help soothe the pain.
If heat is something that helps you manage your pain, keep it close by for those mornings when your pain is at an all-time high.
I also take my hot water bottle with me to bed as when my body relaxes, my pain intensifies.
Aside from pain management, you can also regulate the temperature of your bedroom, both for when you go to bed and when you wake up.
Waking up to a stone cold room is the most horrible thing first thing in the morning.
So perhaps set your heating to come on in the morning, or invest in a portable heater that can heat your bedroom super fast in the morning.
If there’s one thing that I absolutely hate, it’s having to walk on the cold floor in the morning. Getting out of bed and stepping onto the cold floor makes me want to jump right back into bed. So I keep a warm pair of slippers beside my bed.
Taking a shower may seem like a simple and relaxing task for many, but for those with chronic pain, taking a shower can be the most painful part of the morning.
If that’s the case for you, perhaps look at installing a shower chair, to give yourself some ease and make showering a less painful experience.
Have a healthy breakfast
I’m not going to go into the whole ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ spiel. Mainly because I don’t think it’s true and also because everyone is different.
What I will say is, try to have something nutritious in the morning, even if it’s small.
It could be an omelette, fruit smoothie, or granola and yogurt. Try to eat things that reduce inflammation, such as whole grains, nuts, dark-coloured fruits like cherries, chicken, eggs and black tea.
Check out this post by Wayne Jonas, M.D at Psychology Today, on foods you should eat to reduce chronic pain. He gives you a full list of all the best foods to eat or avoid to reduce inflammation.
There have been plenty of mornings when I’ve misplaced or forgotten to take my medication. So now I keep all my medication in a pill organiser.
I have quite a few, but I really like this one because it has sections for each day of the week and sections for the morning, noon and night.
I keep it either on my kitchen counter the night before, or beside my bed with a glass of water, depending on whether I need to take my meds with food or not.
I like to keep my planner next to my bed, as I like to plan my day the night before and check in the morning what I have planned for the day. Doing this makes my mornings run a lot smoother.
I wake up, glance at my planner and see what I have planned for the day. Rather than waking up flustered trying to plan my day whilst getting ready.
I hope these tips help make mornings easier for you!
I know how hard mornings with chronic pain can be. Hopefully these tips, even if just one, help make your mornings easier.
Please remember that each day will be different and sometimes all you can and need to do is stay in bed and rest. Or some days you might need to change the way your mornings look. Both are absolutely fine.
Take each day as it comes, and work out what routine truly makes your mornings more manageable.
You can tweak and change things as much as you need to. It’s all about doing what suits you and makes things more comfortable for you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips, and if any of them make your mornings a little less challenging? Leave a comment below.
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