Sleep and Chronic Pain – A Vicious Cycle

More and more research is being published discussing the importance of adequate sleep. However, individuals suffering from chronic pain often experienced fragmented or disturbed sleep; they may have extreme difficulty falling asleep and/or wake throughout the night due to discomfort. When sleep cycles are interrupted or there is not enough total time asleep, the body is not able to completely repair and heal itself. Thus starts a vicious cycle: less sleep = more pain = less sleep. This article from discusses the sleep deprivation and chronic pain cycle in more detail.

The take home message is that we’ve got to sleep better to feel better, and feel better to sleep better. This article from the Mayo Clinic offers some great tips to help promote better sleep hygiene. In order to break the pain/sleep cycle, the pain must be addressed while the sleep cycle is being restored. This may include becoming more physically active in general, working with your doctor on appropriate medications to speed the healing process, and/or working with the therapists at Integrate 360 Physical Therapy to address the cause of the and not just mask the symptoms.

Another important thing to remember, this will take time. Restoring your sleep and improving your pain is important for many aspects of your health. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not sleeping 8 hours consecutively after a single week. Do the best you can, as often as you can, and be patient. Some individuals find it helpful to keep a sleep and/or pain journal. Just write a few sentences or bullet points about your sleep and how much pain you were in the following day. After a month of sleep retraining and physical therapy, look back at your journal and see how much you’ve improved!