You toss and turn, desperate for a comfortable position and much needed rest. The clock seems to taunt you as minutes turn to hours and still, sleep does not come. Not for lack of exhaustion, mind you, you are certain you could sleep for days, if only you could get comfortable enough to drift off. You get up, coat yourself in pain salves, swallow some pain pills, pray for relief, and retreat once more to the land of slumber, only to lie there, dreamless. Increasingly frustrated and angry, you eventually realize sleep is not happening tonight and give up the fight. If only you could give up the misery and exhaustion.
This is life with chronic pain.
That constant, insistent ache that makes daily living a challenge often makes sleep practically impossible. With nothing to distract from crying body parts, the pain easily becomes the mind’s main focus. You are suffering from what chronic pain warriors call Painsomnia (pain induced insomnia). If you cannot quiet that throbbing ache, sleep will not come. Sadly, far too often there is no quieting the agony. The pain is, after all, chronic, meaning always present, never leaving. You find yourself fantasizing about slumber. What you wouldn’t give for one night of restful repose. For a few hours of sleep unencumbered by constant aches and pains. For just one tranquil slumber.
The pain and sleeplessness lead you to think crazy thoughts, like how much alcohol would it take for you to pass out cold? Would the pain the next day be worth the few blessed hours of oblivion? Where could you find a doctor who would anesthetize you so you can get a good nap? The rest would be well worth the bill.
You take to the internet in those sleepless hours, seeking something, anything you have not yet tried for sleep. Sadly, you know every remedy by heart, every useless one. You’ve tried sleep meds, only to find that pain can easily break through them all, leading to an even drowsier, more frustrated you, with deeper brain fog and less patience for the rested world. You’ve used props, pillows, cozy blankets, weighted blankets, noise machines, blackout curtains (even knowing pain, not light was the problem, but desperate times call for desperate measures and the truly desperate will try anything once.) You’ve tried every natural sleep remedy on the market, from teas to tinctures, none of it has offered you the promised restful sleep.
Unable to find a new sleep remedy, you search for answers for the agony. After all, it, not wakefulness, is the cause of your troubles. Without it you would surely be blissfully snoozing in your cozy, pillow filled nest. Again, you strike out, finding things you have tried, all of which have failed to bring the relief needed in the dark of night. There is something about pain in the night that makes it sharper, more annoying, harder to bear.
Perhaps it is simply that we are our most vulnerable selves in those dark hours. Perhaps it is being alone with that pain that makes it so all encompassing. It may even be as simple as not having anything else to distract us. Days are filled with things to take our mind off pain after all, but when we hit the sheets, it’s just us and that cranky body. The body we have likely pushed through the day, ignoring its distress, promising it we will rest later. The joke’s on us, it’s now later, there will be no rest.
As the sun begins to rise, your hopes turn from the sleepless night behind you to the exhausted day ahead. Maybe you can catch a nap. Perhaps tonight will be better. All you can do is hope. What gets you through the sleepless nights? Is there a sleep remedy that works well for you? Tell us your sleep secrets. We’d try anything for a little rest. Speaking of which, if you see that anesthesiologist, kindly send them my way. 😉