They say you often don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. Well, my feet aren’t technically gone (I can still see them down there), but boy do I miss them. For anyone feeling the effects of nerve damage in the feet (or elsewhere), the pain and sensitivity makes you acutely aware of their presence. Among the long list of routines that nerve damage disrupts – one of the most frustrating is my sleep routine.
Sleep is such a critical function. During sleep our cells repair damage and our bodies recharge. A lack of sleep can increase our risk of health problems such as heart disease, cold & flu, diabetes, cognitive impairments and more. Unfortunately for many people with nerve damage manifesting itself in the feet – extreme sensitivity can make sleep quite difficult. Even the slightest brush of a sheet against the foot can result in screaming sensations of pain, thereby disrupting sleep.
So what can you do to regain control of your sleep routine? Here are five tips for getting a good night sleep with sensitive feet:
1. Create a Routine:
Start by creating a bedtime routine or ritual. The purpose of the routine is to help your body and mind to begin to unwind and relax, thereby preparing it to enter a more restful state. Your routine might include a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soothing music, etc. Start your routine an hour or two before bed and repeat it daily, if possible. Your body will begin to recognize this pattern and will become trained to begin relaxing as you repeat it each night.
2. Avoid Sleep Cycle Disruptors
There are a number of activities that can disrupt your bodies natural sleep cycles, making it more difficult to wind down at night. Things to avoid include alcohol, smoking or caffeine close to bedtime. Turn off all screens (tv, tablets, smartphones, etc) at least two hours before bed. The blue light emitted from screens tricks your body’s cycles and prevents it from producing melatonin, a natural sleep aid.
3. Protect the Feet
There are a number of techniques for minimizing the potential for pain during the night. You may try wearing soft, thick socks and pulling the sheets up so they don’t cover your feet. There are also a number of frames and devices available that will lift the sheets up, thereby protecting your feet from contact. Additionally, you may employ the use of lotions or ointments to help reduce pain and sensitivity at night.
Experiment with different strategies until you find one that works for you. You may also talk to others with nerve damage to see what strategies they have employed.
4. Talk To Doctor
Talk to your doctor about your situation and explore possible treatments together. Since your doctor is most aware of your situation and health issues, he or she will be able to offer the most expert advice based on your situation.
5. Sleep Aids & Medication
Sleep aids and pain management medications can provide much needed relief and allow your body to get the rest it needs. Talk to your doctor about what sleep aids and pain medications may be best for your situation.
If you’re one of the millions of Neuropathy patients struggling to sleep, start today by following these simple steps. Though you may never sleep quite like you did before your diagnosis – regaining every bit of ground you can will make a world of difference in your overall health and wellness.