[featured image description: a small green neon cactus sign next to a small Moomin toy, everything is in a warm green glow]
We’ve all been there. its 3am, you can’t sleep for the nth night in a row and all you can think about is the pain.
Most people with chronic pain/illnesses will have some experience with insomnia caused or defined by the pain that keeps you awake/wakes you up. And it sucks. The past couple months I’ve suffered quite badly, since a kid I’ve never been the best sleeper, I’ve been through periods of very bad insomnia and times where it’s been fine. But since becoming more ill over the past couple years poor sleep has become a large part of my life, and you kind of just grow to live with it. I have three types of painsomnia, 1) pain so bad it keeps waking me up but I can get back to sleep, 2) pain that wakes me up, keeps me awake for a couple hours and i manage to sleep more and 3) pain so bad it wakes me up and I can’t sleep anymore.
You collect different ways to cope and I thought I’d share some of mine here.
Name one thing you love or are interested in, I can guarantee someone’s made a podcast about it. They can keep you company, cheer you up, teach you things and just be a nice distraction from pain. When its 4am and my partner is fast asleep next to me, it’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, it’s comforting. You can also keep the room dark and cosy, try get comfy and just close your eyes and listen.
Here are some of my favourites: Welcome to Night Vale (Sci-Fi, fiction), And That’s Why We Drink (true crime, paranormal), Two Girls One Ghost (best name ever, paranormal), Last Podcast on the Left (true crime, paranormal, conspiracy), Purranormal Cativity (cats solving crimes, cozy mystery, fiction) & Sawbones (medical history).
I’m currently listening to My Favourite Murder (true crime) which I started earlier today, and its also really really good!
It’s no secret that lavender is great for sleep, its relaxes you and helps you chill, I think because of its strong link to sleep just smelling it automatically puts me in a sleepy mood.
I have 2 lavender things I swear by, I use them every night to help me get off to sleep, and top up during the night as I wake up. Sleep Balm which you rub on pulse points, smells of lavender and bergamot. I also have a spray bottle full of water and lavender oil, (which is a lot cheaper to make than buy fyi). I spray this on my pillows, it keeps them smelling fresh and cozy.
Candles are also another good way to stay chill and restful if you can’t sleep (however do be careful about falling asleep with candles burning!)
Sometimes you just know the pain isn’t going away and you’re in for a long night, time to whip out a book (or your kindle… where ever you get your words from). I spend a lot of the time reading, again it’s company and can take you far away from your body.
4. Visual stims and ASMR
I don’t know if it’s just me but when I can’t sleep I find watching videos of visual stims (things like paint mixing and glitter in water are my favourites) they calm me down, they make my brain connect to something that seems to override the need to focus on pain.
ASMR for me happens with certain trigger sounds. It creates a much nicer sensation to distract from pain. I like watching soap, sand and chalk chopping/cutting, it sends a warm tingle from the top of my head down to my toes, which can be so relaxing.
A good old cuppa never failed to fix anything (emotionally at least) I have a cupboard stocked full of tea for any kind of feeling or situation. My go-to ‘can’t fricken sleep’ tea is my Lavender and Camomile, that and a drop of honey and I’m in herbal heaven. If camomile/lavender isn’t your thing there are loads of different herbal tea’s out there, anything without caffeine is best for if you can’t sleep. Green tea has a lot less caffeine than ordinary black tea so is a great place to start if you’ve never really had different tea’s before.
6. Time zones
The middle of the night can be lonely when all your local friends are sound asleep, so meeting people online (chronically ill or not) who live in different time zones can widen your pool of people to chat to. Or buddy up with someone else who has painsomnia that night, hashtags are great for meeting people, or even just to see that you’re not the only person going through it. The internet is a great tool when used properly.
7. Mood lighting
just like with scents, lights can be wonderfully relaxing and distracting. I’m a total sucker for a fairy light, and by my bed I have a neon cactus (the photo at the top) and a little moon. There are so many different kinds of mood lighting around these days, you just have to pick what kind of thing might work for you. How bright do you want it? Do you want it to stay still? Can it change colour or does it just stick to one? My absolute favourite mood light I have is one that’s currently at my parents, as it’s broken, it’s an underwater simulation light (not this exact one but very similar). It is absolutely gorgeous, I loved using it in the shower/bath with the lights out or just laying in bed watching the colours dance on the ceiling is so relaxing.
That’s all for now! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post but I have a new laptop now so hopefully I’ll be a bit more frequent!