Pain causes Sleep problems.
Acute and chronic pain are directly linked to problems with sleep. When your body is in pain, your body uses its energy to heal whatever is causing the pain. And this shift in physical processes can lead to sleep disturbance.
People in pain report having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, sleeping fewer hours, and waking up at night.
Dr. James C. O’Brien MD, FCCP, became involved in sleep medicine 12 years ago when he began to notice that many of his patients, with undiagnosed sleep disorders, were not responding to conventional medical treatments. When sleep disorders were diagnosed and treated, a patient’s condition improved, and they reported a new sense of well-being.
Dr. O’Brien discusses some of the physical changes that our bodies feel when we are in pain, and how it impacts sleep. He was interviewed for Medical News Today about the affects of pain on sleep. He shared how pain can affect the body’s ability to “shut down”.
When someone is in pain, their hormones change. Adrenalin, our body’s hormonal response to pain, can be in “overdrive” mode. When we have extra adrenalin surging, it is difficult to relax and prepare for sleep. “Pain is clearly the nemesis of getting good sleep”, says Dr. O’Brien.
Differentiating acute pain (due to a recent injury or muscle strain) from chronic pain (long-term symptoms like arthritis pain, and when pain persists after the injury has healed) can help sleep treatment. Acute and chronic pain can influence sleep differently, so they may require different treatment.
Dr. Ellen Miller describes how medications can further complicate sleep problems. The medications have ingredients that stimulate the body and the nervous system. Some include caffeine, which stimulates the nervous system and inhibits sleep.
Medications may also have irritating side effects. So, then sleep can be disturbed due to the initial pain and due to medications’ side effects.
If you have difficulty sleeping, or if you have pain which may affect your sleep, here are some of the sleep experts’ most common tips for improving sleep quality:
*Avoid caffeine late in the day
*Exercise early in the day
*Avoid drinking too much liquid in the evening
(author’s note: hydrate early in the day, because dehydration can increase pain symptoms and inhibit sleep)
*Minimize alcohol consumption, especially in the evening
*Avoid spending time in bed except for sleep time
*Practice meditation and relaxation methods
*Establish an “unwinding ritual” around bed-time
*Go to sleep at the same time each night
*Awake at the same time each day, even if you did not get a good night’s sleep
Basically, Prevention and lifestyle habits are key to a good night’s sleep. And understanding the connections between pain and sleep can help treat problems with both!