skip to main content


Effective Ways To Combat Chronic Pain And Sleep Problems

Posted on December 02 2022


  • While quality sleep is essential for physical healing and alleviating pain, people suffering from acute or chronic pain often find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Sleep and pain appear to have a bi-directional relationship. Good-quality, restorative sleep increases tolerance levels to pain, while poor-quality sleep causes a heightened pain sensitivity, also known as hyperalgesia. 
  • There are many reasons why people with pain have trouble sleeping, including uncomfortable sleeping positions, pain medications, stress and anxiety, depression, and more.
  • You can use many helpful tips and coping strategies to help you sleep when in pain. These include mindfulness techniques, a consistent sleep routine, good sleep hygiene, and regular exercise.
  • If the stress and anxiety of being in pain prevent you from switching off at night, Pzizz may be the solution. This sleep app uses science-backed techniques and patented technology to quieten your mind, helping you fall asleep fast, stay asleep throughout the night, and wake up feeling refreshed.
  • You should also consider using Mesmerize to attain deep, restorative rest each night. This meditation app applies clinically-validated principles to calm the nervous system and reprogram the brain, transforming your relationship with pain by eliminating unpleasant feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. Keep reading to learn more.


Chronic pain and insomnia can often leave you in a catch-22 situation; you’re in too much pain to sleep, but at the same time, the lack of sleep is making your pain worse. This double jeopardy affects around one in five Americans [1], and it is easy to feel like there’s no way of breaking free from the vicious cycle. 

Sleep is essential to maintaining a strong immune system and regulating countless bodily functions. Moreover, insomnia due to chronic pain can have serious health consequences in the long term, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. 

If stress and anxiety from your pain keep you up at night, using Pzizz as part of your bedtime routine can be an effective way to help quiet racing and intrusive thoughts and get a good night’s sleep. Download your free trial version on the App Store or Google Play today.

Additionally, incorporate mindfulness into your pain relief strategy with Mesmerize. This meditation app is designed to calm an aroused nervous system and alter brain patterns to help minimize pain intensity. Download Mesmerize on the App Store or Google Play and discover how it can help you today.

While prescription medication is essential for alleviating pain when sleeping, there are proactive steps you can take for a better night’s sleep. Whether it is a chronic pain from arthritis or headaches, acute pain following surgery or a broken bone, or any other type of pain that wakes you up at night, keep reading for helpful tips and coping strategies to deal with pain and get better rest effectively. 

The Connection Between Chronic Pain And Sleep Deprivation 

We know that sleep is essential for physical healing, but research suggests a bi-directional relationship between pain and sleep. For instance, good-quality, restorative sleep increases your ability to withstand pain. It improves chronic pain by reducing inflammation, promoting tissue repair, and reducing physical signs such as bruising and swelling [2].

On the other hand, poor-quality sleep resulting from short sleep times and frequent sleep disturbances intensifies pain sensitivity and duration, as well as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and poor daytime functioning [3]. Such a heightened degree of pain may be due to an increase in inflammatory chemicals called cytokines produced by the body due to sleep loss [4]. 

This inextricable link between sleep and pain may be due to their sharing of similar neural pathways and neurotransmitters. For example, melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, also improves pain perception by altering neural pathways in the brain responsible for processing pain [5].

Why Does Pain Get Worse At Night?

Pain doesn’t necessarily become worse at night compared to during the day. However, the subjective intensity of pain can increase while the ability to tolerate it can simultaneously decrease-a process called hyperalgesia. This is due to numerous factors, including:

Disruptions to sleep architecture

In addition to having trouble falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), pain at night can also cause difficulty in staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia). Such disruptions interfere with the various stages of sleep necessary for feeling well-rested. Waking up during the night prevents you from getting deep, restorative sleep, increasing sensitivity to pain and perpetuating the vicious cycle.

Uncomfortable sleeping positions

Certain types of pain, such as that caused by arthritis, bone fractures, or fibromyalgia, can prevent you from assuming a comfortable, pain-free position in bed, resulting in problems falling and staying asleep. 

Pain medications

Many medications prescribed for pain relief are often accompanied by the side effects that interfere with sleep. For instance, opioid drugs, such as codeine and morphine, can inhibit rapid eye movement (REM) sleep-this final sleep stage typically starts around 90 minutes after falling asleep. Ironically, such disruption can lower your threshold for the pain these medications are designed to treat. 

Lack of exercise

People with chronic pain will likely feel fatigued during the day due to poor sleep and are less likely to exercise regularly; however, regular exercise is proven to improve sleep quality. Additionally, simple physical activities like walking, jogging, running, or swimming can help ease chronic pain by releasing hormones such as endorphins and serotonin, which act as natural painkillers and induce sleep. 

Stress and anxiety

Research confirms that stress and anxiety increase pain perception, subsequently lowering your threshold [6]. Such feelings can also elevate levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making it difficult to switch off at night and consequently causing insomnia. 


Pain, depression, and insomnia are inextricably linked. People with chronic pain who also suffer from depression have higher pain levels, poorer sleep hygiene, and more difficulty quieting racing thoughts at night. This negative cocktail creates a self-perpetuating cycle that can exacerbate the existing condition. 

Sleep disorders

One in four people with chronic pain also has a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, which can increase sleep disturbances throughout the night, preventing restorative sleep and worsening pain [7]. 

How To Sleep While In Pain: Helpful Tips And Coping Strategies

Use Pzizz

If the stress and anxiety of being in pain prevent you from switching off at night and getting proper rest, Pzizz may be the solution. Through science-backed techniques, this sleep app uses patented technology to help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep throughout the night, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Pzizz contains an extensive library of sleep-optimized music, soothing sleep narrations, and psychoacoustic sound effects designed using the latest clinical research to quieten the mind, help you de-stress, and consistently get a good night’s sleep. 

The great thing about this app is you can customize your sleep sessions each night to suit your sleep preferences. With over a billion unique combinations of sounds to choose from, you won’t need to worry about hearing repetitive sequences each night to lull you to sleep. 

Once you’ve selected your playlist for the night, simply choose the time you want to wake up and relax-Pzizz will do the rest.

Join over one million people globally who have already downloaded the app and are enjoying their best night’s sleep. You can find Pzizz on the App Store and Google Play, with a free trial version available to download today.

Try mindfulness techniques

There’s a lot of fear, anxiety, and stress associated with pain, and practicing mindfulness techniques can help alleviate such feelings and subsequently decrease the pain experience. In fact, a 2019 study found that mind-calming exercises such as meditation, deep breathing, and visualization can effectively reduce pain sensation and perception [8].

Mesmerize is a meditation app that combines engaging visuals with relaxing psychoacoustic music and expertly crafted guided meditations to induce deep relaxation, lower anxiety, and stress, and ultimately reduce pain.

Using clinically-validated principles, Mesmerize uses meditation to calm the nervous system and reprogram the brain to transform your relationship with pain, eliminating unpleasant feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress. 

Download Mesmerize on the App Store and Google Play today and discover how it can relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. 

Keep a consistent sleep routine

It’s important to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning, regardless of how poorly you’ve slept. As tempting as it may be to sleep in or take long naps the day after a restless night, it can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and exacerbate your sleep issues. 

Resisting the temptation to sleep during the day will help to set your circadian rhythm (the inner clock that regulates sleep) and enhance your natural drive to sleep at night. However, if you’re really struggling with daytime fatigue, you may consider taking a short nap, no longer than 10-20 minutes in the early afternoon, no later than 3 pm.

Observe good sleep hygiene

Good sleep hygiene is one of the most effective ways to help prepare your mind and body for sleep. The strategy involves adopting daily habits and environmental changes that are conducive to consistent, uninterrupted sleep, including:

Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark

Excessive noise and light can disrupt sleep quality; however, there are many tools you can use to address such issues. These include eye masks, black-out curtains, ear plugs, or a white noise machine. An environment that is too hot can also prevent you from falling and staying asleep. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that activate the nervous system, so consuming such substances causes a state of wakefulness and alertness. For this reason, it is important to limit your alcohol intake and have your last drink at least three hours before bed (preferably with a meal). Caffeine can remain in your system for up to 12 hours, so avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages after the morning.

Follow a relaxing bedtime routine

A relaxing nighttime routine is crucial to preparing your mind for bed and helping you successfully drift off to sleep. Activities that can help you unwind include taking a warm bath or shower, reading, journaling, meditating, or listening to soothing sounds or sleep stories. 

Avoid artificial lights

Blue light from electronic devices suppresses melatonin production and prevents you from going to sleep. Avoid exposure to artificial lights from smartphones, laptops, tablets, and television screens at least one hour before bed. 

Don’t eat a heavy meal before bed

Eat your final meal of the day at least three hours before bed, and try to keep it as light as possible. This includes avoiding fried, fatty, and spicy foods that can potentially cause sleep disturbances at night. 

Moreover, eating whole foods high in carbohydrates, such as rice, fruit, fish, nuts, cheese, or chicken, may help promote sleep because they contain a protein called tryptophan, which produces the sleep-inducing hormone serotonin. 

Get out of bed if you can’t sleep

If you find yourself wide awake, tossing and turning 30 minutes after you’ve gone to bed, then don’t force yourself to stay in bed any longer– doing so can cause your brain to associate your bed with being awake and worsen insomnia. Get out of bed and go into another room to do a relaxing activity until you feel the urge to sleep. 

Don’t exercise too close to bedtime

Exercise increases core body temperature and releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline that boost energy levels and keep you awake. For this reason, try to schedule your workouts during the day and, if possible, not within three hours of bedtime.

Use comfortable bedding

Your bedding may be triggering certain pain points in your body, causing your pain to worsen at night and preventing you from getting quality sleep. Sleeping on a mattress and pillow that provides adequate support is crucial. Memory foam pillows and mattresses may be especially helpful if you suffer back, neck, or hip pain. 

Check your sleep position

Certain sleeping positions can provoke and aggravate pain, so it is important to ensure you sleep in a neutral position. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, particularly if you suffer from neck, shoulder, or upper back pain, as it can place undue strain on these body parts and increase the pain sensation. 

If you suffer from lower back pain, it may help to lie flat on your back, while sleeping on your side tends to be the most comfortable position if you have neck or hip pain, but not if you suffer from shoulder pain. It may also help to strategically place a pillow between your knees or under your back for added comfort and support. 

Whatever you choose, the key is to lie in a position that feels the most comfortable; feel free to experiment until you find what works for you.

Apply heat or cold packs on pain points

Based on personal preference, heat or cold packs can help reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with pain. Wrap your hot or cold compress in a towel or cloth before pressing it against your skin, as direct contact can cause skin damage. Apply the pack on the area for 15 to 20 minutes before bed-but be careful not to fall asleep with the heat or cold pack.

Get regular exercise

Engaging in light exercise during the day not only helps to combat chronic pain by stretching stiff muscles and joints but also tires your body out, increasing your drive to sleep. However, it’s important not to overexert yourself if you’re already in pain, as this can do more harm than good. 

The key is to go slow and steady with moderate, low-impact exercise, engaging in activities that won’t put excess stress on your muscles or joints, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or yoga. Avoid anything strenuous such as weight lifting or resistance exercises. 

Consider taking a sleep aid

Over-the-counter sleep aids can be an effective way to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep aids come in many forms, such as teas, capsules, and tablets. Popular remedies include chamomile, valerian root, lavender, cherry juice, zinc, glycine, magnesium, and melatonin. 

Always consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter sleep aids to ensure they fit in with your existing treatment plan. Some sleep supplements can interfere with and reduce the efficacy of pain medications you may already be taking.


If you suffer from chronic or acute pain that prevents you from getting quality, restorative sleep at night, you’re not alone. Pain and poor sleep is a phenomenon that affects around one in five Americans. Often, stressful, anxious, and depressive thoughts can prevent you from sleeping, subsequently exacerbating the pain and perpetuating a vicious cycle. 

Pzizz is an effective approach to relieving pain-related insomnia by using science-backed techniques to quieten negative racing thoughts and induce deep relaxation. The patented technology includes an extensive mix of psychoacoustic music, soothing sleep narrations, and binaural beats clinically proven to help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep through the night, and function better throughout the day. 

Don’t just take our word for it-download a free trial of Pzizz on the App Store and Google Play and look forward to getting the best sleep tonight. 


Can you control pain with your mind?

Psychological factors are closely tied to the severity of pain we feel. Certain types of pain, such as chronic pain or pain that doesn’t necessarily have an identifiable source, can be controlled with your mind. For example, catastrophizing can amplify physical sensations of pain; conversely, employing therapeutic techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, can also minimize subjective feelings of pain. 

Why do I still feel pain after taking painkillers?

After taking opioid medications, such as codeine or morphine, for a sustained period, the body can develop a tolerance to such drugs, therefore requiring an increasing amount to experience relief from pain. Moreover, opioid tolerance can cause a patient to feel more pain, even when the medication dose remains unchanged. 

Can chronic pain ever go away?

Chronic pain may not necessarily be curable; however, you can employ many coping strategies to manage pain effectively in the long term. Chronic treatments can reduce a person’s pain by around 30%. Such strategies include medications, lifestyle changes, and various types of therapy.