Pain has emotional, physical, and mental aspects to it. The extent to which a person feels pain is based in part on behavioral and cognitive processes. When discussing pain management, you need to consider a number of factors, including the role that sleep plays in helping your body manage pain.
Evidence suggests that there are links between depression, sleep, and pain. A change in one of these three will impact the other two. If you are dealing with chronic pain, you know that pain can prevent you from sleeping well. You also know that pain can affect your emotional state, making you feel depressed. But what some people may not understand is that the reverse is also true. Not getting enough sleep can increase your pain level.
How Common Are Sleep Disturbances?
It’s estimated that in the United States approximately 10 percent of the population battles insomnia. However, when you focus on those who are dealing with chronic pain, for example, those who have arthritis, the same study shows that the number dealing with insomnia jumps to 23 percent of that group.
When pain causes sleep disruption, your body’s pain threshold may drop. This creates a vicious cycle where a lower pain threshold means that your sleep is disrupted easier, and this, in turn, leads to irritability, fogginess, and a diminished quality of life.
Can Chronic Pain Sufferers Get Better Sleep?
How can a chronic pain sufferer break the cycle? Comprehensive pain centers help many dealing with chronic pain use behavioral interventions as a low cost and effective solution to improving their sleep, thereby managing their pain. To determine what behaviors you may need to change to get a good night’s sleep, a general assessment of your sleep can be conducted.
The focus is on identifying the habits you may have developed with regard to your sleep such as:
• Taking long naps during the day
• Drinking beverages with caffeine
• Doing stressful activities right before bedtime
Once you have been helped to identify behaviors that may be making it hard for you to get a good night’s sleep, you need to set goals and make changes. You should know that around the world there are millions of people who have sleep disturbances. The positive thing is that these problems can be addressed quite often by just making behavioral changes. If additional help is needed, a cognitive behavioral therapist could help.
Make a Sleep a Priority
The healing powers of sleep are unquestionable. There are a number of studies that show that individuals who are able to get enough sleep, even increasing their sleep by as little as 35 minutes per night, feel more motivated and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Pain creates a vicious cycle. The first night that you’re unable to sleep because of pain increases the chance that subsequent nights are going to be sleepless due to pain. If you have pain, you may deal with micro-arousals, meaning that your body stays in a lighter stage of sleep longer.
When pain reaches a point that it prevents you from being able to sleep, it may be time to find professional help. As discussed, there are a number of options that are available that can help chronic pain sufferers to get the sleep their body needs to heal.
As always, it is important to bring this to your physician’s notice and discuss options.