How does sleep affect peripheral neuropathy symptoms?
Sleeping can be difficult while you are dealing with peripheral neuropathy symptoms. The pain and numbness can keep you up at night, and even if you can sleep, you may not be getting the rest you need.
Sleep can affect your peripheral neuropathy symptoms in a few ways. If you are not getting enough sleep, it can lead to fatigue and make neuropathy worse. Additionally, disrupted or poor-quality sleep can worsen neuropathy symptoms.
How sleep deprivation can affect pain threshold
An individual’s pain threshold is the point at which they feel pain. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can lower an individual’s pain threshold, meaning they will feel pain sooner than if they were well-rested.
When you are tired, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, and cortisol can increase inflammation and make pain worse.
Why does peripheral neuropathy feel worse at night?
Numbness is a common symptom of peripheral neuropathy. When you are sleeping, the position of your body can affect how much numbness you experience. If you sleep on your side, you may find that the numbness in your arm or leg worsens. This is because gravity pulls the fluid and blood downward when you are lying down, which can cause the nerves to become compressed.
Why peripheral neuropathy may feel worse when lying down
Similar to sleeping, lying down can increase pressure on the nerves. When you are upright, your body’s weight is evenly distributed. However, when you are lying down, most of your weight is pressing down on one area. This can increase pressure on the nerves and cause pain.
Other reasons your neuropathy may feel worse when lying down or sleeping include:
- Physical strain and effort, which might increase nerve discomfort as your body begins to relax
- Exercise, especially vigorous exercise, which can lead to increased pain and discomfort
- Lack of distractions at night, which may cause you to focus more on the pain you’re feeling
Peripheral neuropathy and sleeping tips to decrease discomfort and pain
If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort from peripheral neuropathy, you’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do to prepare for a good night’s rest or if there is anything you can do during the day to have good, pain-free sleep at night.
There are several things that you can do to improve your sleep when you have peripheral neuropathy. Some of the best tips for a more pain-free sleep include:
- Create a regular sleeping schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
- Make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool — all of which can help promote better sleep.
- Consider using a noise machine or a fan to create white noise, which can help block out distractions.
- Make sure that you are getting enough exercise. When you are active, your body produces endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
- Try using a pillow between your legs if you are sleeping on your side, or use a foam wedge to elevate your head and shoulders if you are sleeping on your stomach.
When it comes to sleep, peripheral neuropathy can make it challenging to get the rest that you need and deserve. However, by following these tips, you can create an environment that is more conducive to sleep, and by doing so, you may find that your symptoms improve.
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- “Why Your Neuropathy Feels Worse at Night”. Amputation Prevention Centers of America
- “Why is My Nerve Pain Worse at Night? (And How Can I Sleep Better?)”. United Physician Group
- “Neuropathy and Sleep”. Neuropathy Commons
- “How to stop the cycle of nerve pain and sleeplessness – Neuropathic Therapy Center”. Loma Linda University Health