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Sleeping with Neuropathy: Simple but Effective Tips for More Restful Sleep

Coping with neuropathy pain is a challenge at any time of day, but for many with this condition, the pain is hardest to deal with when trying to fall asleep.

As you work with your doctor to pinpoint the best neuropathy treatments for your condition, there are some simple lifestyle adjustments that can make a surprising difference. You will learn some changes you can make to diet, nutrition, and lifestyle in this post for more restful sleeping with neuropathy.

How does Neuropathy Impact Sleep?

Before we go over our recommendations, let’s talk about how neuropathy makes it hard to get a good night of sleep.

Young woman sleeping with a white fleece blanket

For one thing, neuropathy can lead to the development of restless legs syndrome (RLS). If you have RLS, you will experience an unpleasant sensation (which can vary from patient to patient) that makes you want to move your legs. If you have to keep moving your legs around, that might interrupt the process of falling asleep.

The pain of neuropathy increases at night for many people as well. The pain itself can sometimes keep you awake. According to Loma Linda University Health, this is partly because circulation to extremities lessens at night due to cooler temperatures.

Additionally, some people who have neuropathy may have associated diabetes. They might also have sleep apnea, another condition linked to diabetes. When you have sleep apnea, difficulties breathing can disrupt your rest.

Importance of Quality Sleep for Neuropathy Patients

Not being able to sleep well is no fun on its own. But it also can worsen your neuropathy, creating a vicious cycle.

That means that if you want to minimize your symptoms so you can live your best life, you need to find a way to break that cycle and get back to restful, restorative sleep. We will offer you some suggestions shortly.

Common Neuropathy Symptoms

Here are some of the neuropathy symptoms that might be keeping you awake;

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Twitching in muscles
  • Cramps
  • Sensation loss
  • Balance issues (though this won’t keep you awake)
  • Tingling

Usually, people with neuropathy describe their nerve pain as shooting, burning, prickling or stabbing. The pain may be constant, or it may come and go.

Diet and Nutrition Tips for Better Sleep

Although you cannot reverse neuropathy through lifestyle changes, diet and nutrition alterations can help you to reduce your pain and other symptoms.

Healthy salad bowl

That includes both through direct intervention, and indirectly, by helping you get better sleep. Let’s go over a few simple changes you can make to your diet to sleep better with neuropathy.

Increase vitamin B12

How much vitamin B12 are you getting in your diet? Vitamin B12 may be helpful in regulating sleep-awake cycles. Additionally, there is a correlation between neuropathy and sub-optimal vitamin B12 levels in some patients. So, it makes sense to try and restore your vitamin B12 levels.

Eating more meat, fish, dairy and eggs can help you increase your vitamin B12 intake. You can also try eating cereal or milk alternatives that have been fortified with vitamin B12.

Omega-3 fatty acids

There is research showing that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids may help promote good sleep. Additionally, studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are good for your nerves. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which is great not just for your nerves, but for your overall health as well.

You can get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by eating more fish, avocados, flaxseeds, chia seeds or walnuts.

Vitamin D for Sleep

Did you know that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to problems sleeping? You might think that vitamin D deficiency is relatively uncommon, but it is actually incredibly prevalent.

Cleveland Clinic states that about half the global population has insufficient vitamin D, while 1 billion people around the world are outright deficient in it. That problem is not limited to third-world countries either; vitamin D deficiency affects about 35% of the US adult population.

Unfortunately, not a lot of food sources exist for vitamin D. You can eat some more fish or beef liver, or you can consume beverages that have been fortified with it such as dairy milk, non-dairy milk alternatives, and orange juice.               
                Woman enjoying a sunbath                                                                 

Beyond that, your best bet is to get some more sunshine and start taking a vitamin D supplement.

Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Now that we have gone over dietary recommendations, let’s talk about how you can improve your sleep hygiene. If you are not familiar with this term, it refers to the environment where you sleep as well as your routines and practices around sleep. Here are some tips for good sleep hygiene when you have neuropathy:

  • Maintain a set routine for when you wake up and when you go to bed every day.
  • Avoid daytime naps, unless they work well for you.
  • Exercise during the day (more on that shortly).
  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold.
  • Consider turning on some white noise to drown out sudden noises.
  • Keep your bedroom dark for sleeping.
  • Avoid exposure to blue light (like the light from your devices) late at night. It can disrupt your regular sleep cycles, as the body interprets it as being similar to daylight. Try not to look at your devices too late at night without using a blue light filter. If you have cool-toned lights at home, replace them with warmer-toned lights.
  • Ensure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow that provide ideal support.
  • Some people with neuropathy find that having the covers touching their feet or legs can make their pain worse. Either pull your covers above your feet, or consider getting a product that will lift them above your feet and legs all the time, like a blanket lifter.

Can Better Shoes Help You?

Upgrading your shoes can make a huge difference in comfort and stability, helping you exercise for longer periods of time.

Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital says, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.”

If you have foot neuropathy, however, you may have a difficult time exercising. The condition can make it painful to put your weight down on your feet, and may make it hard for you to lift your feet or maintain your balance.

For a long time, people with neuropathy just had to make due with regular footwear as best they could; for many, that meant not exercising at all.

Woman wearing a pair of Cadense Adaptive Shoes

But now, there are some innovators out there like Cadense that are making shoes specifically designed to restore function and improve safety for people who face challenges with walking due to health issues.

The Cadense Original Adaptive Shoe (available for men and women) features proprietary technology that varies the friction of the sole through each phase of the wearer’s steps. The result is the ability to “slide over obstacles,” even if one cannot fully lift one’s foot.

By wearing adaptive shoes like these, you may finally be able to get the exercise you have been missing out on each day. As a result, you may drift off more quickly at night and sleep more soundly, even with your neuropathy.


You may still have a few questions about sleep and neuropathy. Let’s answer some frequently asked questions now.

Can lifestyle changes improve sleep for neuropathy?

Yes, lifestyle changes like eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and improving your sleep hygiene may all help you to sleep better with neuropathy. Scroll up in this post for some specific advice.

Does physical therapy improve sleep for neuropathy?

It could. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy says, “Research has shown that strengthening exercises for peripheral neuropathy moderately improve muscle strength in people with PN. In addition, exercises to help peripheral neuropathy, when done regularly, may reduce neuropathic pain and can help control blood sugar levels.”

When your pain reduces, you should find it easier to get good sleep.

Is it common for neuropathy to contribute to anxiety or stress?

Yes, neuropathy can definitely contribute to stress and anxiety. Being in pain is not fun, which naturally contributes to stress. And you may feel anxiety at your limited ability to control the pain. As you get a better handle on your lifestyle and become more adept at managing your pain, however, your stress and anxiety may decrease.

Can neuropathy lead to other sleep disorders?

Yes, neuropathy can lead to restless legs syndrome (RLS), which can also keep you awake.

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