6 Facts About Sleep and Pain

Allison Tsai Jun 26th, 2014 (updated Aug 11th, 2015)
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Pain causes poor sleep
Pain causes poor sleep

About 15 percent of American adults experience pain, and that increases to 50 percent in older adults. Of those people having pain, about two-thirds say they have poor sleep. The medications prescribed to treat pain can also fragment sleep. Getting comfortable can also become an issue.

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Pain and sleep issues become a vicious circle
Pain and sleep issues become a vicious circle

Typically when pain first starts, people don’t experience sleeplessness. As pain continues to become a problem, they will experience poor sleep, which worsens each night. Sleep deprivation can also make you more sensitive to pain, which becomes vicious circle between pain and sleeplessness.

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Loss of sleep from pain occurs for many reasons
Loss of sleep from pain occurs for many reasons

The major causes of sleep loss due to pain are back pain, headaches, and TMJ. Arthritis and fibromyalgia are also leading factors in poor sleep. Cancer pain, from treatment and the disease is also a common cause for sleep loss.

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Good sleep hygiene is important
Good sleep hygiene is important

Some things that can help you sleep in general include, eliminating caffeine from your diet, limiting alcohol, particularly in the evening, getting light afternoon exercise, napping for 10 to 20 minutes in the afternoon and practicing relaxation techniques.

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Know when to see a doctor
Know when to see a doctor

If you are experiencing pain and sleep problems two to three times a night and you are unable to fall back asleep, it’s time to find a doctor. There are many treatments to aid with sleep and pain, including medication and physical therapy.

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Chronic pain can make it hard to exercise
Chronic pain can make it hard to exercise

Exercising is an important tool to keep yourself at a healthy weight, but it can be difficult when you are in pain. This can lead to weight gain, which can exacerbate certain conditions, such as sleep apnea. Finding ways to modify workouts or doing low-impact exercise may work for you.