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Top Ten Sleep Disturbances – #7 Pain

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#7 Pain
A Serious Intruder on Restorative Sleep
Heather Johnson, RN, Resource Nurse

A recent poll of the American public, found that 21% of Americans experience chronic pain and 36% had had acute pain in the past week. Combine those totals, and it equates to 57%, leaving only 43% of Americans who report being pain free. Pain ranks as number seven in the Top Ten Sleep Disturbances.

People with pain often report feeling less control over their sleep. They report being worried about lack of sleep and its effects on their health. Worry leads to stress. Stress and poor health, often go hand-in-hand and can often be linked to fragmented sleep. Fragmented sleep translates to interrupted sleep which prevents a person from receiving 7-9 hours. Seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep is necessary for restorative sleep. Restorative sleep is needed for physical and emotional healing. Sleep loss is known to contribute to feelings of depression and fatigue, which in turn can increase a person’s pain perception. Research indicates that if a person experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, they are more likely to experience pain the next night, and the next night, and so on. We know that pain can be a serious intruder on restorative sleep.

Pain, depression, and fatigue are interrelated. Further, pain often is linked to insomnia, and, when both of these problems coexist, the perfect recipe for additional problems has been created. Additionally, evidence suggests that sleep loss increases reports of pain, when you don’t sleep well you have a heightened sensitivity to pain. This vicious cycle of poor sleep due to pain affects multiple areas of a person’s day to day life.

What can a person do?

  • Determine the source of the pain. Is it physical pain? Is it emotional pain? Get to the root of the problem, identify the root cause. Once you’ve identified the source, address the source with the right solution or intervention.
  • Seek direction from your medical provider.
  • Exercising or stretching of sore muscles by stimulating blood flow and easing pain
  • Evaluate your positioning in bed; your pillow, mattress, and environment.
  • Retrain you brain to think of something positive as you head to bed for the night.
  • Research non-pharmacological interventions such as, relaxation techniques (focus on your breathing), guided imagery, aroma therapy, heat/cold, and massage.
    If it’s physical pain, consider a longer acting pain reliever, one that will last throughout the night.

Don’t let pain rob you from a good night of sleep!

References:
Cosio, D., Lin, E; PPM: Practical Pain Management. Disturbed Sleep: Causes and Treatments. 2018. https://www.google.com/amp/s. Accessed November 20, 2018.
National Sleep Foundation. Recommended Sleep. 2015. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-dowe-really-need. Accessed November 20, 2018.
Onen, SH., Alloui, A., Gross, A., Eschallier, A., Dubray, C. 2001. The effects of total sleep deprivation, selective sleep interruption and sleep recovery on pain tolerance thresholds in healthy subjects. J Sleep Res. 10, 35-42. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2869.2001.00240.x

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