If you’re living with pain and struggling with sleep then you’re not alone. It’s very common for people with persistent pain to have difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep.

Recent research shows that by adjusting what you do during the day, as well as night, it is possible to achieve a healthier sleep pattern . . .

Why can’t I sleep?

It’s likely that there are a number of causes of your sleep difficulties. Here are six triggers often found by people living with pain:

It’s a vicious cycle

You have probably discovered that poor sleep can have some unhelpful effects on your day-to-day life.

After a broken night’s sleep you may find:

  • it’s harder to concentrate
  • you are short tempered with other people
  • your mood is low

It’s very common for people to find that poor sleep makes their pain seem worse. They can find themselves in a vicious cycle where pain makes sleeping difficult, and poor sleep worsens pain.

The really good news is that there are lots of changes you can make to help you to sleep well.

Over a period of five to six weeks these can make a huge difference.

Five changes for better sleep

We’ve put together the top five changes you can make. Find out more about what you can do, here:
Five changes you can make for better sleep

Useful resources

How to Sleep Well with Pain

This great little leaflet from Live Well with Pain is based on the same ideas we explore in Footstep 6, but goes into more detail. Download and print it it here:


The Sleep Council

The Sleep Council is a national body for sleep health. Its website is full of resources to help you get a good night’s sleep – what to do, what not to do, and where to get more help.


National Sleep Foundation

A useful American website with dozens of articles on all aspects of sleep disorders and solutions to help you sleep.

Visit the website

Getting a good night’s sleep

A leaflet from Pain Concern explaining all aspects of sleep and what we can do to improve it.

Download the leaflet

Meditation for sleep

The Headspace website has hundreds of articles for any mind, any mood, any goal, including lots on sleep. Try this audio ‘meditation for sleep’ and read more about the benefits of sleep meditation.

Listen to the meditation for sleep

Sleeping problems leaflet

This useful NHS self-help guide has been produced by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

Download the leaflet

Key ideas

✔ Lots of people with pain have difficulties sleeping, but recent research has shown that sleeping well with pain is possible
✔ Making some changes to what you do during the day will help you sleep better
✔ Regular physical activity will help improve your sleep
✔ Your food and drink choices will have an impact too
✔ Getting into a regular night-time routine is important
✔ Making sure that your bedroom is ‘fit for sleep’ can make a big difference

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