Category Archives: Sleep

How Being Happy Relieves Back Pain

You might think your back pain is making you miserable, but could your back pain be because you are miserable?

I don’t just mean that your mood affects your pain, although I strongly believe that too. But when we are miserable, we are a lot less likely to see any point to doing anything ourselves to improve our situation. So we do nothing.

I found a USAtoday article today(!) about a survey that says The Older Generation Does It Best; that over 65s are happiest, and I wasn’t surprised to find it was the 45-64 age group that are the least happy people.


The middle-aged group works the hardest; some work up to 12-14 hours a day because they have families. A lot of  them have teenagers, who can be both expensive and trying! And a lot of them have chronic pain. The older ones do too, but they have learned more about what is important in life. They have also learned how to be happy, and how to look after their bodies.

A lot of poeple will not take drastic action about their health until they have had some sort of scare or bad news from their doctor, into doing so. The vast majority of us neglect our bodies. We eat the wrong things; we aren’t informed about the correct type or amount of exercise to do regularly. And even if we do know, we still don’t take action because we think we are already too busy.

Most of the responses to the article are from people who seem to think it is because the senior citizens are finacially better off. Why is everyone so obsessed with money? Happiness has NOTHING to do with money. That is one thing I do know. I have had money, and been broke while miserable and also both while being happy, and the two are not at all connected. Your attitude is what makes you happy. Only those who have learned how to be happy will ever believe this (and rich people who are miserable!) I learned how to permanently be happy while I was still £12,000 in debt (around $18,000).

The comments on the article also suggest outside influences are to blame for our happines. YOU are responsible for your health, wealth and happiness. People will always be miserable if they think the government (or whoever) is responsible for their current or future lifestyle.

So what has this got to do with chronic pain or back pain?

No matter what your situation, you can always fit in 10 minutes of exericise, twice a day. I find it so sad when people say they have no time. They also more than likely eat way too many carbs and have poor sleep patterns, so of course they have no energy. If we are more organized we can magically create an extra hour or two every day just by having more energy!


Because when we have good energy levels, we need less rest (vegging out in front of the TV) and we need less sleep!

If you want to improve your situation, no matter what that is, you must start optimizing your health by making these tiny adjustments.

But most importantly, you have to have the right attitude. If you go around saying such phrases as;  “knowing my luck” or “sod’s law”, or “murphy’s law” etc. you are telling yourself life is hard before you even give it a chance!

And do you ever allow for life’s contingencies? When you know it takes 25 minutes to drive to work, and yet day after day you leave exactly 25 minutes before you need to be at work. It’s obviously only a matter of time before there will be a holdup and you will be late. Then you’ll be angry with the “idiot” who caused an accident up ahead, or the “moron” who drove too slowly. And you’ll be flustered and angry all morning and your mood will have a domino effect on everyone around you. This leads to stress, etc, etc…

I would also strongly recommend buying the book pictured above. It will not take long to read. It’s is actually designed to look like a kids’ book. And I think that helps a lot. Because let’s face it, busy people are going to be put off simply by the thought of a long, arduous read.

“Mmm, it’s probably a good book…” I hear you say.

But you’re not planning on buying it, are you?

OK, have a look at these reviews and see what you think. Or even look inside the book, as it offers that function too. Yes, some of it is common sense, but most of us are so poor at remembering to do this stuff, it is still worth a lot more than the price of the book just to be reminded of it.

I have read my copy 3 times, and some parts of it more (because I have an abysmal short-term memory). And I got it for £1.50 from a charity shop. What a steal!

Learn to be happy and thankful for the resources you already have, and the rest is easy, I promise.

Don’t Increase Back Pain by Oversleeping!

Oversleeping back painDid you know you can worsen you bad back if you oversleep? I carried out an experiment on the connection myself. More on that later.

At first, I wasn’t sure if this was just me or not. But I have asked a lot of other back pain sufferers too. And they all say their back pain is a lot worse if they oversleep. So I did some research and oversleeping does have a detremental effect on chronic back pain, as well as a whole host of other conditions, such as depression.

I knew oversleeping wasn’t good for us, as I always felt a lot worse after oversleeping myself. I have several books on sleep and it is stated in all of them that you should be consistent and aim for 7  – 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep every night.

I have found that you can maybe stretch to 8 – 8 hours 30 minutes, if you have a rough night the night before, but even if you only have 3 hours or fewer, you should not then have 9 hours or more the following night to try and make up for those lost hours. It will not make you feel better. It’s best to increase your sleep gradually. Especially if you suffer from insomnia. You need to feel tired at the end of the day, and insomniacs never do, because of poor sleeping patterns.

In my free 5 Day course, there is a section on Sleep, and another bonus section on how to stay organized enough to optimize healthy sleep patterns. Sleep is so important. But most people don’t realize just how much. And oversleeping is just as dangerous as undersleeping. Some experts even say that people who regularly oversleep are at risk of death; mainly from stroke, but also several other causes too.

Just sticking with back pain, it is not clear exactly why, but the subject of sleep is a very mysterious one. We still do not know everything about sleep, and its effect on the body and mind. As you know I strongly believe in the mindbody connection, and anything that increases the effects of depression is not good news for chronic pain sufferers. Low mood has very strong implications for chronic pain.

People (often with depression) who insist they need 8 hours or 9 hours of sleep a night, are very mistaken. They have simply never been able to stick to a healthy sleep pattern to discover the truth, and they are sleeping themselves into an early grave.

For just over a year in 2007 I kept a sleep-pain diary as I noticed a connection, and wanted to see just how much it affected me from day to day. I must say at this point that this experiment would not be accepted in any clinical way, because for my own sanity, I did not deliberately try to overlseep – or undersleep. I knew it wasn’t good to do that, so I just made a note of my pain levels as soon as I woke up, and throughout the day every day. The poor sleep patterns happened with no effort!

I would aim for 8 hours sleep in the beginning (this was before I learned that 7 hours 20 minutes was my optimum length of time to sleep) and my pain would often be a 5 or a 6 (10 being the most painful) when I first got up, and lower to a more acceptable level later in the day.

But on the days I overslept, even by one hour, not only would my pain be higher; – 7 or 8 – but it would remain quite high for the rest of the day too.

Once I learned this, I of course tried to control my sleep more, but we all fall off the wagon, and when I failed to stick to my routine, I would not be able to sleep. This would mess up my sleep patterns for up to two weeks. Yes! That’s how bad I was. I was very sensitive to just one night of poor sleep – there’s no way I could work night shifts for example.

So I got better and better at sticking to my routine, even if I did mess up occasionally, and the results were amazing. Not only would I be able to sleep beautifully most nights, my pain levels dropped considerably. This was before I implemented other extremely effective methods to relieve pain, so I knew it was definitely the healthy sleep pattern that was responsible for reducing pain.

I would strongly advise keeping a sleep-pain diary yourself. Try to keep one for at least 6 months, so you can get a really good picture of what is happening. And aim to find out your optimum length of time to sleep. If possible, try for 7 hours 20 minutes or 7 hours 30 minutes. It will not be far from that time.

And let me know your results here!

photo by Orin Zebest on Flickr