Persistent pelvic pain (PPP) can affect the quality and length of your sleep, and poor sleep can increase your sensitivity to pain. This can be a vicious cycle.
Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are more common with PPP, and people with these conditions often experience sleep disturbance.
When you manage sleep problems, it can improve your mood, pain and quality of life.
What you can do
Relaxation strategies can reduce tension in your body.
Breathing exercises – deep and focused breathing can slow your heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Progressive muscle relaxation – involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. It can be used in combination with breathing exercises.
Meditation – helps you focus your attention. It can reduce stress and anxiety. It is also used in other relaxation techniques, such as yoga.
Mindfulness – a type of meditation that helps you stay calm, focus on the present moment and not worry about the past or future. Mindfulness skills can improve how you feel physically and mentally.
Good sleep habits
Good sleep habits can help improve the length and quality of your sleep. For example:
make your bedroom a restful place (i.e. dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature), and only use your bed for sleep and sex
turn your alarm clock away from you to avoid ‘clock watching’, and if you cannot sleep, get up and do something calming – don’t force it
get comfortable – use pillows under legs, hips or knees to reduce pain and improve comfort in bed
wind down in the evening in another part of the house (e.g. read a book on the couch)
get up at the same time every morning and get out into the daylight as soon as possible after waking
do regular physical activity and spend time outdoors on most days.
You can try other things, for example:
don’t eat or drink close to bedtime
don’t go to bed hungry
don’t have daytime naps longer than 20 minutes
don’t read news or social media close to bedtime
don’t use electronic devices within an hour before bed
don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or smoke cigarettes – these disturb sleep patterns.
Cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
CBT-I is a short, structured approach to treating insomnia. It focuses on your thoughts, behaviours and how you feel about sleep. Health professionals trained in CBT-I can help you manage pain and improve your sleep.
Apps and digital programs
You can try different apps and digital programs. For example:
guided meditation and mindfulness apps, such as Smiling Mind
When to see your doctor
If your sleep or pain is not improving, talk to your doctor. They will help with practical ideas and may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychologist or sleep specialist.
Created May 2023
Disclaimer: This information does not replace medical advice. If you are worried about your health, talk to your doctor or healthcare team.
We write health information for people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. We use the term 'women', but we acknowledge that this term is not inclusive of all people who may use our content.
© Jean Hailes for Women’s Health 2023
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Government.