Chronic pain can stop us from an enjoying an active life in the daytime, as well as restful sleep at night. Poor sleep habits are often connected to intense pain. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to escape. Pain does not let you sleep at night and insufficient sleep aggravates pain.
Neck pain, for instance, makes it difficult to sleep. This affects both the quality and quantity of a good nights rest. Incessant discomfort and pressure on the affected area can spread the pain to other areas of the body. Frequently, those suffering from neck pain wake up with a headache or back pain problems. Arthritis patients find their pain worsening when they roll over or turn while sleeping.
However, sleep experts say that those diagnosed with chronic pain will suffer less if they do manage to sleep comfortably. Proper diagnosis, treatment and the right products to support the affected area can go a long way in promoting good quality sleep. Michael Breus, clinical director of the sleep division at Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, USA nods to what the sleep experts say, “People in pain don’t sleep and people who sleep have less pain.”
How Pain Increases Sleep Deprivation
You may have seen how fuzzy your thoughts are after a night of disturbed sleep. Lack of sleep affects the mood and attitude which in turn affects clear thinking, firm decisions and how your day turns out thereafter. It is a ripple effect. The stress from lack of sleep intensifies aches and pains. Physical pain affects the central nervous system that reacts to pain signals. Sensitive people are more prone to “central sensitization”, as this condition is called. Their pain lingers longer than those with a normal threshold of pain tolerance.
How Sleep Deprivation Increases Pain
Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of gastrointestinal disorders as well. Stress from lack of sleep causes indigestion and stomach upsets. If left untreated, there is a higher risk of developing inflammation and chronic disorders from sleep deprivation too, such as autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and muscle pain.
Reduced sleep also lowers serotonin and dopamine levels. Reduced dopamine levels are responsible for a lessened pain tolerance. Reduced serotonin increases symptoms of depression, anxiety and once again, the ability to bear the pain. It is all connected and works in a cycle.
Researchers at Harvard Medical found that those with Osteoarthritis slept better and recovered faster when their pain levels went down with the right aids to allow better sleep. The same can apply to others suffering from chronic pain as well.
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