Written By: Dr. Darren Smith PT, DPT



Pain, how do we defeat it? We do not have all the answers… yet. However, we do know a variety of ways to manage pain; ice, heat, compression, and stretching to name a few. Often overlooked is the impact of sleep. Research continues to reveal a critical neurological effect with insufficient sleep: a reduction in our natural analgesia centers and hyperactivity of neural pain function. Insufficient sleep leads to pain hypersensitivity.


Strategies to improve sleep include:
  • Regularity: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
  • Keep it cool: Turns out your body needs to drop temperature 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit to initiate and stay asleep.
  • Keep it dark and remove electronic devices from the bedroom: darkness helps trigger the release of the hormone melatonin.
  • Cut back on caffeine towards the evening hours.
  • Get up, walk it out, or do another activity If it has been more than 15-20 minutes and you have not fallen asleep until you feel sleepy. Then try it again.
  • Exercise: Avoid 2-3 hours before going to bed.
  • Eye masks: Research supports not only improved sleep but additional improvements in memory and alertness. Avoid the eye mask being tight as this may be disruptive to the benefits.
  • Sunlight exposure: Get roughly 15 minutes of sunlight in the morning. This helps reset your body’s “inner” circadian clock.

Another question that often arises is regarding supplementation. I suggest you have these discussions with your medical provider. However, quality research suggests myoinositol is beneficial for sleep, especially in pregnant women.

I often discuss sleep strategies with my patients, especially with individuals experiencing chronic pain. The result of the above strategies can be amazing. For additional knowledge on the pain neuroscience surrounding chronic pain, register for my course on Pain Neuroscience. This course focuses on introducing and utilizing pain neuroscience education in your practice. I also have a whole series of Live Streams reviewing Pain Reduction and Management on March 22nd and March 23rd that you don’t want to miss!

Sweet Dreams!


Explore Darren’s Upcoming Live Streams:



Greco V, Bergamo D, Cuoccio P, Konkoly KR, Muñoz Lombardo K, Lewis PA. Wearing an eye mask during overnight sleep improves episodic learning and alertness. Sleep. 2023;46(3):zsac305. doi:10.1093/sleep/zsac305

Krause AJ, Prather A, Wager T, Lindquist M, Walker M. The Pain of Sleep Loss: A Brain Characterization in Humans.  J NeuroScience. 2019;39(12):2291-2300. Doi:10.1523/jneurosci.2408-18.2018

Mashayekh-Amiri S, Delavar MA, Bakouei F, Faramarzi M, Esmaeilzadeh S. The impact of myo-inositol supplementation on sleep quality in pregnant women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022;35(18):3415-3423. doi:10.1080/14767058.2020.1818225