Nighttime pain is a cause of distress for millions of people. It seems that in the evenings when people are worn out from their long day and the body is shutting down its defenses, pain seems to jump front and center.
Without the innumerable distractions from traffic, people, the phone, we are left to face the pain, inflammation and stiffness of our body.
Without the ability to ease the pain, inflammation, tightness and stress… getting deep, sound sleep is next to impossible. Yet sleep is essential to the healing process.
Without deep sleep the body cannot properly heal and recharge itself…and the next days will be worse.
4 secrets to ease your nighttime pain
Here I would like to share with you four easy tips for shedding your nighttime pain so you can finally get some sleep.
1. Careful What You Eat
The food we eat is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling inflammation and indigestion, which themselves cause pain. The typical American diet consists of too much fat, tons of sugar, loads of red meat, and a frightening amount of processed foods — all of which are likely to increase inflammation and indigestion.
By switching to an anti-inflammatory diet plan consisting of healthy whole foods, you can actually decrease inflammation and ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.
Eating plenty of whole grain and complex carbohydrates, as well as consuming ample fresh water, will help your stools move, decrease constipation and limit indigestion.
Adding more of the aromatic spices to dishes (like ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, curry) also aid the body in naturally fighting inflammation, pain and help expel toxins. In addition, avoiding the nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant) will help as these have been shown to increase inflammation, which increases discomfort and pain.
2. Have a Good Laugh
Laughter releases those feel good chemicals in the body that help reduce pain. It also shifts one’s thoughts away from the causes of pain and stress and onto the lighter side of life.
Options include talking to a friend who ‘cracks you up’ each evening, watching a movie, sit com or stand-up special that you find funny, and reading humor essays, short stories and novels. Whatever it takes, laughing or enjoying the cleverness of comedy in the evening will help you reduce that pain and relax into sleep.
A study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing reported that patients who were told one-liners after surgery and before painful medication was administered perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn’t get a dose of humor as part of their therapy.
Another study, this one published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, found that young girls with burns who were shown cartoons during very painful hydrotherapy said they felt less pain than similar patients who were not exposed to cartoons during the same procedure.
Aside from distracting us from pain, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that can make us feel good. So make it a point each day, and especially each evening to laugh. Read something funny, watch something funny, think of something funny or talk to a funny person. Not only will this distract from pain, and reduce nighttime pain, but it will also help relieve stress and help get you a new focus on your life.
3. Reframe Your Mind
Reframing the way you think of your pain is easy and it shows you that your outlook on life has a lot to do with the life you lead. Pain is simply a form of communicating information within your body.
You may say to yourself, “My back hurts, I have weak knees, they stop me from doing things and this gets me down.” What you are doing is letting yourself know you have all of these problems. By focusing on the problems, you are actually reaffirming a negative cycle. Reframing helps break that cycle to bring on relief.
Step One is identifying the problem. Why is it happening (e.g., you have had a disc problem; you where sleeping in a new bed.) When is it happening (e.g., while doing something that always sets it off). What is happening (e.g., what kind of pain is it?). And How is it happening (e.g., are making it worse? Is it fear-based pain where you are worried that it will get bad so you get in the mindset of being in pain?)
Step Two is separating the intention from the learned behavior. In other words, you slow down to really talk to your subconscious mind about a better way to deal with the problem at hand. You might say, “Okay, I know I am having pain, but it’s not an injury, I am not my pain, it just happened today because I have been sitting all day and not moving.” Thinking and acknowledging in this way keeps you focused on getting to step three.
Step Three is setting the positive way forward. You can even thank your body for the message of pain, as it focused you to work with a better intention of achieving your health and long-term life goals.
You can reframe in many ways, just look at the positive view of the situation and let your mind work for you!
4. Get That Deep Sleep
While it is a catch-22, deep sleep is necessary to relieve pain. Yes, nighttime pain will keep you awake, but finding ways to reduce it and over time getting that sleep will do wonders in the long run. During sleep, the body works to repair itself. The liver purifies blood, the muscles repair, and serotonin increases. Without ample sleep, these things do not happen at optimal levels.
In our natural circadian rhythm, or biological clock, sleep is set to take over during the evening hours. We are genetically programmed to get up and lie down with the sun. So it was the invention of artificial sources of light (candles and bulbs) that began our stressed-out drive for more working hours at the expense of much-needed rest.
What’s the big deal, you ask, if you sleep only a few hours per night? You can always drink coffee, take NoDoze caffeine pills, catnaps… life is good. Well, not really. Did you know that in clinical tests rats die within a few short weeks of sleep deprivation? And it’s not just rats at risk.
Chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, attention deficit disorder, chronic migraine and headache, body aches and pain, mental illness, depression and anxiety are all in part caused—or made worse–by lack of sleep. And no caffeine pill or taurine-laced energy drink can cure these dangerous side effects of our global-economy-size workloads.
Ditlow, F. (1993, March). ” The Missing Element in Health Care: Humor as a Form of Creativity.” Journal of Holistic Nursing, vol. 11, 1: pp. 66-79.
Kelley, M. L., Jarvie, G. J., Middlebrook, J. L., McNeer, M. F., & Drabman, R. S. (1984). “Decreasing burned children’s pain behavior: Impacting the trauma of hydrotherapy.” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 17, 147-158.
Mark V. Wiley is unique. As a doctor of both Oriental and Alternative medicine, best selling author, martial art master and international seminar instructor… no one does for wellness what he does!
Dr. Mark’s interest in holistic and natural health practices was not just a mere curiosity; he was looking for long-lasting relief from the debilitating migraines and chronic pain that plagued him for nearly three decades.
His passion for wellness has led him to become an innovator in the field of holistic health with the creation of the self-directed wellness model called The Wiley Method. This Method is unlike other healing systems that look at the individual symptoms and diseases and work toward managing them. Instead, it takes a systems view of health as being intimately tied to ones body, worldview and lifestyle choices.