Try to improve sleep
People with chronic pain report sleep as their number one problem. While there are a variety of medications that help improve sleep temporarily, most (with the exception of some of the antidepressant medications) are not useful on a chronic basis. Sleep hygiene is critical for anyone with sleep problems. This includes:
- Having a period of time of relaxation before going to bed
- Keeping a specific wake up time even if you did not sleep well during the night
- Not staying in bed for more than 20 minutes without sleeping (get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again)
- Turning the clock away so when you awake you cannot focus on the time
- Using the bed only for sleep (or sexual activity) and not for reading, watching TV, or eating
- Avoiding food or drinks with caffeine for at least 4 hours before bedtime
Daytime activities also affect sleep, so regular exercise and avoidance of napping can greatly improve nighttime sleep.
Seek out social activities and support
Unfortunately, many people with chronic pain withdraw from their social world and even their family. This is often a gradual process that needs active attention to reverse. Many times it is necessary to force oneself to participate in social events even if you do not feel like it.