Back pain can be an incredibly-frustrating symptom that inhibits our range of motion, plagues us with unpleasant discomfort, and keeps us up at night! What’s worse is that many – unwisely – forgo treatment, hoping it will just get better.
“Pain is hard enough to deal with in the light of day. But, pain at night robs you of your much needed sleep and can be downright exhausting,” comments
Frank. J. Falco, MD, who specializes in pain management and sleep problems in Newark, Del. “Plus, pain causes anxiety, which disrupts sleep even more.”
In addition to preventing a person from falling asleep, pain also results in difficulty staying asleep. Once pain keeps you awake one night, it is likely to do the same thing again and again. Pain-related insomnia gets worse over time.
Pain is the culprit for keeping many people up at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 2 out of 3 people with chronic pain have trouble sleeping. “Pain is a sensation you feel when nerves are stimulated to an intense degree,” says Tracey Marks, MD, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist. Marks is author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified. “This stimulation activates the brain, which keeps you awake.”
You need a certain amount of each stage of sleep to feel rested and for proper memory,” Marks says. These stages include light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We normally go through four to six cycles of these stages per night. But if pain wakes you up, you spend too much time in light sleep,” she explains. This reduced sleep, in particular a shortened REM, may increase sensitivity to pain.
The medical director of adult sleep services, Reena Mehra, MD, of University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland agrees that joint and muscle pain usually results in problems staying asleep (called sleep maintenance insomnia) rather than falling asleep (called sleep onset insomnia). “This sleep deprivation makes you more sensitive to pain.”
The reasons why sleep deprivation makes you more sensitive to pain aren’t known for sure. “Some research studies show that sleep deprivation causes increased production of inflammatory chemicals in the body called cytokines,” Marks says.
Pain medications interrupt sleep. Unfortunately, some of the medications prescribed for pain, such as codeine and morphine, can cause insomnia. These opioid pain medications can cause apnea, brief pauses in breathing, during sleep. “Therefore, people who take these kinds of medications for chronic pain are at a higher risk for sleep problems,” Falco says.
Treat Naturally and Get Much Needed Sleep
Treat your pain naturally and start catching up on your much needed sleep. Forgoing treatment for back pain, shoulder pain, sciatic pain, etc. can leave you open to many health risks since your body is being compromised.
Dr. Richard Matuszczak of East Longmeadow Chiropractic has over 23 years of experience helping relieve the pain of many in the East Longmeadow- Longmeadow area. Call (413) 525-0225 to schedule your visit. Relieve the pain and catch up on much needed sleep!