Chronic pain affects spouse's sleep
Chronic pain obviously can cause a lot of disruptions in a patient’s life. But, according to new research from Penn State University, it also can have a significant negative impact on spouses, affecting their sleep and increasing their risks of physical and psychiatric problems.
Using knee pain as a test condition, the researchers had 138 knee osteoarthritis patients and their spouses complete interviews and keep diaries for 22 days. The subjects were all at least 50 years old and were either in long-term relationships or were married. The results showed that the greater a person's knee pain at the end of the day, the worse quality of sleep their spouse got that night. However, the reverse was not true – those in pain were not affected by their partner's lack of sleep.
The results of the study also show that the detrimental effects on a spouse reach beyond just disturbances in the patient's sleep. It seems that those whose sleep was compromised also became less able to respond empathetically to their partners.