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How To Sleep Better When You Have CRPS or Chronic Pain

Learning top tips to help you get a better night’s sleep when you live with CRPS or chronic pain

Sleep is integral to our lives, and establishing good sleep practices is crucial. Living with chronic pain or conditions like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome often leads to sleepless nights, and trying to find a comfortable position to sleep can become a constant struggle.

Understanding the Sleep Challenges

Living with chronic pain, particularly CRPS, brings forth various challenges in maintaining consistent and restorative sleep. An overactive nervous system, pain-induced stress, and sleep problems create a cycle that needs careful intervention.

The Impact of Chronic Pain on Sleep

Chronic pain has a significant impact on sleep. It makes it difficult to fall asleep and causes frequent wake-ups during the night, making it harder to reach the deeper sleep stages. Known as "painsomnia," the difficulty sleeping because of ongoing pain worsens the link between pain and sleep problems.

Addressing Sleep Problems in CRPS

To improve sleep quality with CRPS, it is important to develop good sleep habits that go beyond using technology. One way to do this is by creating a relaxing bedtime routine. It is also important to understand the connection between pain and sleep. Additionally, trying different methods without relying solely on digital devices is key.

Insights into Sleep Disorders

Various research studies have highlighted the prevalence of sleep complaints within chronic pain disorders. Insomnia often goes hand in hand with chronic pain, so it's important to tackle sleep problems for overall health.

14 Tips for Improved Sleep

  • Go to Bed Only When Tired: Respect your body's natural sleep cues.
  • If Sleep Eludes, Take a Break: Engage in a relaxing activity before attempting to sleep again.
  • Develop Distraction Techniques: Divert your focus from pain through planned distractions.
  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Reinforce your sleep-wake cycle with a routine.
  • Mindful Food and Drink Choices: Avoid stimulants close to bedtime.
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual: Incorporate calming activities and mindfulness techniques.
  • Soothing Aromas: Use scented candles, essential oils, or incense to relax.
  • Comfortable Sleep Environment: Consider room temperature, darkness, and noise levels.
  • Limit Daytime Naps: Prevent interference with nighttime sleep.
  • Include Physical Activity: Foster better sleep with moderate daytime exercise.
  • Stress Management: Employ effective strategies to manage stress throughout the day.
  • Limit Electronic Device Use: Reduce exposure to screens before bedtime.
  • Medical Consultation: Seek professional advice if sleep troubles persist.
  • Journaling Benefits: Use a journal to organise thoughts, manage stress, or track sleep patterns.

Patient-Tested Tips

Experiences from people dealing with CRPS and chronic pain in their daily lives provide further understanding, highlighting the importance of tailored strategies like handheld DVD players, heavy blankets, lavender mists, and other soothing routines.


Implementing these methods and tailoring them to individual needs can significantly enhance sleep quality, improving pain management and an overall enhanced quality of life. It's a journey of exploration and adaptation, empowering individuals to reclaim a peaceful and refreshing night's sleep despite chronic pain and CRPS challenges.

Cited Resources

  • Ancoli-Israel, S. (2006) “The impact and prevalence of chronic insomnia and other sleep disturbances associated with chronic illness,” American Journal of Managed Care, 12(8), S221. < Bolash, R. & Drerup, M. (2015) ‘How to Beat Insomnia When You Have Chronic Pain’ Cleveland Health Clinic. December 2015. Available from <>
  • Breus, M. (2016) ‘How To Create An Effective Bedtime Ritual For Better Sleep’ Sleep Doctor. Available from: Jank, R et al. “Chronic Pain and Sleep Disorders in Primary Care.” Pain research and treatment vol. 2017 (2017): 9081802. doi:10.1155/2017/9081802
  • Lewandowski, A.S. et al (2011) ‘Sleep Problems in Children and Adolescents with Common Medical Conditions,’ Pediatr Clin N Am 58 (2011) 699–713. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2011.03.012
  • Long, A.C. et al. (2008) ‘Sleep Disturbances in School-age Children with Chronic Pain,’ Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 33, Issue 3, April 2008, Pages 258–268,
  • Mayo Clinic (2014) ‘Sleep Tips: 7 steps to better sleep,’ Mayo Clinic website. 2014, June 9. Available from:
  • Moeller, A. (2016) ‘5 Little known Tips for Sleeping with chronic pain’ Spine Health. Available from:
  • Queen West Physiotherapy & Acupuncture (2014) ‘Pillows – Happy Sleeping!’ Queen West Physiotherapy & Acupuncture blog. Accessed April 2020. Available from <>
  • Tang, Nicole K Y. “Insomnia Co-Occurring with Chronic Pain: Clinical Features, Interaction, Assessments and Possible Interventions.” Reviews in pain vol. 2,1 (2008): 2-7. doi:10.1177/204946370800200102
  • Zilca, R. (2014) “Three Bedtime Reflection Routines To Help You Sleep” Psychology Today. September 2014. Available from: <>
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