This has been a historical week in the United States and around the world. With the ever-present stream of changing news, I have been noticing old aches and pains sneak up on me. My bedtime creeps later because I’m not going to any meetings in the morning. My routine is out the door. I am also realizing that the boundaries I thought I had around my sleep are not enough. If you have experienced or are experiencing pelvic pain or any type of chronic pain condition, maybe you have been feeling this too.
A poor night’s sleep can make everything worse- including a resurfacing or worsening of your pelvic pain. This is because a lack of sleep can make our body more sensitive to pain. While it is unlikely that we have incurred extra tissue damage overnight, our tolerance level of pain has been reduced making us feel worse. This is a very real sensation of elevated pain, but the good news is that it will get better if we can get our sleep back on track. This is extra important during a time when our nervous system is under extra stress because of crisis. Making a bunch of changes can be hard, but there are some simple things we can do to set ourselves up for success and a good night’s sleep.
Routine and ritual help our body come back into our parasympathetic rest state. This is the fancy medical word for how we feel when we are relaxed and not fighting off the proverbial tiger. If you have children or a fur baby at home- think about how much they crave routine and ritual. Adult humans are the same. The biggest difference is we must set these routines and rituals for ourselves and then stay accountable. Routine can be an absolute life saver when so much feels uncertain around us. And it can lead us to a good night’s sleep.
I’ve come up with a short list of easy solutions you can try right now to improve your sleep. Your immune system and whoever you are sharing space with will thank you.
Make your room as dark as possible: This seems simple like making sure windows are covered. Take it a step further and notice any ambient light from an alarm clock, cell phone, some other light on a digital item that is charging. Before you are completely exhausted and ready to pass out, go thru your room and find any ambient light sources and remove them or cover them up. Toss a towel or piece of painter’s tape over the light so the room will be completely dark when you go to bed. Bonus- move all your digital devices to a closet or outside your room to charge.
Be consistent: Set a bedtime and stick to it. This is important
on multiple levels of our wellbeing. Routines big and small are exceptionally important when uncertainty exists all around us. Create a routine for bedtime to wind down and disconnect. The news will be there tomorrow. Netflix will be there, too. A good night’s sleep will pay off dividends in how you feel and can handle your day to day life.
Unplug and Unwind: Whatever you decide your bedtime to be, unplug for at least 30 minutes before at a minimum. Blue light from our devices suppresses the release of melatonin which tells our body it is time for sleep. Try reading a book, journaling, enjoying a cup of tea, gentle yoga, or a guided meditation to wind down for bed instead!
Start to tune in to how you feel in the morning and jot it down to help notice patterns. Give your body a few days or a couple of weeks to adjust. Wishing you a restful night’s sleep.