Less sleep = more pain, but more pain = less sleep. The pain / sleep dilemma

Pain and quality sleep are, for many, mutually exclusive.  Research has shown that the less quality sleep a person gets, the greater the intensity of their pain.  Then there’s the flip-side where you can’t get good sleep because you’re in pain.   It’s a vicious cycle that can negatively affect every aspect of a person’s life!

Let’s take the example of chronic low-back pain to give us a clearer picture.  A person with chronic low back pain isn’t getting enough sleep because they can’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep or they are constantly awakened throughout the night because every time they move, the pain wakes them up.  The next day, the chronic low-back sufferer is in more pain because they couldn’t get the quality sleep their brain and body need.

The flip-side of this is the person who has mild low-back or musculoskeletal issues who also has sleep issues (ie. insomnia, sleep apnea, caffeine too late in the day). They experience worse pain after poor sleep nights because they’re not getting good, restorative sleep.

It’s the “chicken or the egg” dilemma.  Is it a sleep disorder leading to increased pain or is it pain leading to decreased sleep?  Do you address the pain, do you address the sleep issues, or both?

A proper diagnosis is vital to remedying this dilemma.

First, if you have an old mattress with any “sag” where your weight is focused, it’s time for a new bed.

(Here’s a link to a piece I wrote on selecting a new mattress)

Sleep studies have been a vital component to correctly diagnosing and treating sleep disorders for many.

For pain sufferers, an exam by a qualified professional to diagnose what is specifically causing your pain is the best first step to resolving your pain and getting back the life you deserve.

If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic pain that is preventing you from living your best life, please give me a call.

An important note:  If you are being woken up in the night with pain that is not musculoskeletal pain, it could be a sign of a serious pathology.  It is highly recommended that you see your physician for a thorough exam and lab work.

If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other topic, please let me know.