Pain from peripheral neuropathy can become severe enough to disrupt sleep patterns and cause poor sleep quality for patients. Those with familial amyloid polyneuropathy may experience painful symptoms including burning sensations and pain aggravation at rest.
Because neuropathic pain and quality of sleep are correlated, patients struggling with them may be looking for ways to improve their overall physical well-being.
Why neuropathy patients may have poor sleep quality
The pain associated with peripheral neuropathy symptoms can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep. Concurrently, this lack of sleep may cause pain symptoms to worsen. A patient’s sensitivity to pain may be directly correlated to the severity of their insomnia.
How neuropathy medications may affect sleep
For most patients, pharmacological agents may be part of their daily treatment for neuropathy. Treatments such as pregabalin and gabapentin are two of the most 8common pharmacological agents used in treating neuropathy. A 2017 review of previous studies that was published in the journal Pain and Therapy found that pregabalin improved quality of sleep in 77 percent of treated patients, while patients who took daily doses of gabapentin reported better sleep scores than those who took a placebo.
Still, patients who use gabapentin should be aware of the medication’s potential side effects. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Changing habits to improve sleep quality
My mother-in-law has struggled with disrupted sleep patterns due to her neuropathy pain. Some of her struggles with this pain may have been related to her tendency to stay awake until 4 or 5 a.m. when extended family came to visit. Her excitement at having her mother or siblings visit led her to stay awake and talk, play board games, or watch television with them until around the time my father-in-law woke up from his previous evening’s sleep.
This sleeping pattern may not be advisable for patients who struggle with neuropathy pain, especially at night. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk of high blood pressure, which also may increase neuropathic pain. Patients who suffer from neuropathic pain and disrupted sleep should maintain a healthy sleep pattern and not go to bed too late.
Other ways to help
Advising patients to improve their sleep patterns may be easier said than done. Still, following are some ways in which neuropathy patients can improve their quality of sleep and potentially reduce neuropathy pain symptoms.
Alter sleeping position
Patients with neuropathic pain may improve their overall quality of sleep by simply changing their sleeping position. A 2005 study found that patients could treat their nocturnal pain by sleeping in a position that extends the spine, potentially decompressing the nerves that control sensations in the lower limbs and feet. Some recommended sleeping positions include sleeping in a recliner, sleeping on the back with a pillow underneath the legs, and sleeping on one side of the body with a pillow between the thighs.
Reduce daytime nerve compression
Daily physical activity may cause the nerves in a neuropathy patient’s legs to compress, potentially increasing evening neuropathic pain. Patients with neuropathic pain in the lower extremities may alleviate evening pain by reducing the amount of walking they do during the day. Using a wheeled walker or a wheelchair may help to decompress the spine during the daytime, possibly making it easier to sleep at night.
Patients may find it easier to sleep when the amount of stress in their lives is reduced. Stress reduction may come in the form of counseling, spending time with friends and family, and partaking in enjoyable things.
Sleep-inducing teas such as chamomile may help patients fall asleep faster. Still, neuropathy patients must be mindful of the temperature of the tea, as numbness may cause a patient to misjudge the actual temperature of the liquid. When taking a sleep-inducing tea, patients and caregivers may find it best to let the tea cool down to room temperature or serve it as iced tea.
Do you have methods for improving your quality of sleep? Leave a comment below to share how you approach improving your sleeping pattern.
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