Harvard Men's Health Watch

How to sleep better with chronic pain

Rely on your natural sleep rhythms as much as possible instead of sleep medications and painkillers.

Chronic pain and insomnia are an unhealthy combination. According to the National Sleep Foundation, chronic pain disturbs the slumber of one in five Americans at least a few nights per week. But you can start to break the vicious circle of pain and insomnia by maintaining sleep-friendly behaviors, known as sleep hygiene.

"For chronic pain conditions, what you need is good sleep habits from the beginning—things that will last," says Dr. Padma Gulur, a pain medicine specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. That means relying on the brain's natural sleep drive as much as possible, rather than medicating pain-related insomnia with sleep aids or pain relievers.

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