It turns out feeling groggy or possibly irritable after not getting adequate sleep aren’t the only side effects of compromised rest. Studies are finding that chronic pain and poor sleep patterns can be interdependent.
“There is a growing body of research that explores the interrelationship between pain and sleep. Pain is a signal of bodily harm, and sleep is a behaviorally regulated drive that helps maintain homeostasis. If homeostasis is compromised by pain that results in sleep disruption, negative consequences will impact health and well-being,” as reported by the site PPM (Practical Pain Management).
Ostensibly, being in pain or suffering from something like fibromyalgia can impede on one’s rest, and ultimately create a vicious cycle where the sleep disruption compounds the pain. However, a sheer lack of sleep without a pre-existing, pain-causing condition can ignite bodily harm.
“Overall, sleep reductions led to impaired responses to bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances, more inflammation, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and other biomarkers related to pain, fatigue and poor health. Newly developed insomnia doubled the risk of a chronic pain disorder and hip fracture problems,” regarding a study involving more than 60,000 adults, conducted by Esther Afolalu of the University of Warwick in Coventry.
Another layer to the symbiosis between pain and sleep is the cognitive association one has anticipating sleep while in pain, and coping with not being able to rest. Less rest induces discomfort and can further impede much needed shut-eye—and so the sequence will continue.
“Thoughts can have a direct and/or indirect impact on our emotion, behavior and even physiology. The way we think about sleep and its interaction with pain can influence the way we cope with pain and manage sleeplessness. Based on clinical experience, whilst some of these beliefs are healthy and useful, others are rigid and misinformed,” according to Dr. Nicole Tang.
Within the doctor’s same study it was found that people with pain who believe they won’t be able to sleep are more likely to suffer from insomnia, thus causing worse pain.
More research and studies are showing that sleep and pain can create a cyclical infringement if not properly managed. Typically a finding will uncover your body—and any pain it might be experiencing—will benefit from more, uninterrupted, sleep.
A supportive pillow may aid in alleviating some causes of sleep pain (try our Hotel Chamber Pillow).