Why does neuropathic pain flare up at night? Although sleep issues may not seem like the most significant issue when managing peripheral neuropathy, it is essential to tackle both neuropathy symptoms and sleep disruptions directly because of their compounding effects. Let us examine in more detail why pain tends to intensify at night.
Reasons why peripheral neuropathy is worse at night
- Body position. Just like sleeping, lying down can elevate the pressure on your nerves. While standing upright, your body weight gets distributed evenly, but when you lie down, a significant proportion of your weight puts pressure on a particular region, leading to increased nerve pressure and causing pain.
- Temperature. As the temperature decreases at night, your peripheral nerves may experience heightened tingling, and you may feel a sharper or burning pain. Additionally, your heart rate may slow down when you’re exposed to cold, which can slow down blood flow and intensify painful sensations.
- Fewer distractions. Patients may find themselves more attuned to their pain in the evening when there are fewer daytime distractions like work, friends or hobbies. This can lead to an increase in their perception of pain while trying to sleep.
- Stress. The body can experience increased pain due to emotional or physical stress. Whether it be intense physical activity or the strain of a long workday, such stress can have a negative impact on the body. It is common to find that even when you are ready to sleep, your body is still recovering from the day’s stress.
- Sleep disturbances. Neuropathy symptoms can be exacerbated by sleep disturbances for some individuals. In particular, sleep deprivation can lower one’s pain threshold and intensify the feeling of neuropathic pain.
- Medication. Although medication may effectively alleviate pain during the day, its effects tend to wear off over time. This often occurs at night, causing discomfort and pain to return.
- Exercise. Physical activity, particularly strenuous exercise, can result in heightened pain and discomfort.
Suggestions for improving sleep while coping with peripheral neuropathy
To improve your nights while dealing with peripheral neuropathy, there are several things you can do. Some helpful tips to promote pain-free sleep include:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as closely as possible.
- Turn off the television, lights and all electronic devices a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime.
- Control your blood sugar.
- Limit or eliminate caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use.
- Ensure that your sleeping environment is cool, quiet, and dark, as these factors can promote better sleep.
- Consider using white noise from a fan or noise machine to minimize distractions.
- Get enough exercise, which triggers the release of endorphins that act as natural pain relievers.
- Use a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side, or elevate your head and shoulders with a foam wedge if you sleep on your stomach.
- Try meditating or deep breathing exercises to induce sleep.
When struggling with neuropathic pain, it’s important to acknowledge that poor sleep, depressive mood and anxiety can make managing the pain challenging. Talking to your doctor to identify the most effective treatments and approaches tailored to your specific needs is crucial.
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- “Are Neuropathy Symptoms Affecting Your Sleep?”. Everyday Health