The Benefits of Sleep When Combating Chronic Pain

Research indicates that one third of Americans suffer from lack of sleep, which may contribute to chronic body pain.

The link between lack of sleep and body pain.

Poor sleep has been associated with a decrease in metabolism, learning, attention span, life span and memory.   In addition, lack of sleep is associated with increased levels of inflammation, fatigue, stress, depression and pain.

Research investigating the relationship between pain and poor sleep reveals that individuals with poor sleep are more at risk for developing pain than their well-rested counterparts. Chronic sleep deprivation, or troubled sleep – characterized by difficulty falling asleep or frequent awakenings – is a form of stress. Stress triggers the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the body’s stress response, to kick into high alert. When the HPA axis is activated, a cascade of events take place, resulting in elevated cortisol levels. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on body tissue and increase systemic inflammation, further disturbing the body’s HPA function which is linked to the onset of chronic pain.

The takeaway: sleep matters!

We need to consider sleep as one factor among many, including diet, physical activity, etc. that contribute toward quality of life. One researcher characterized sleep as “a natural muscle relaxation agent” (Kaila-Kangas, 2006), and that description could not be more spot on. So what can you do to form better sleep habits? Establish a pre-bedtime routine like avoiding caffeinated drinks several hours before bed, turning off the TV, closing the laptops, and laying aside the smartphones. Create a sleep-friendly environment with blackout drapes, white noise machines, and cooler temperatures. Prioritize quality sleep the way you would a healthier diet or a more active lifestyle. Give it a shot and share your secrets to success in the comments below!

Contact Oahu Spine and Rehab at 808-488-5555 to get your body back in tip-top shape! Many patients benefit from a combination of rest and OSR’s holistic and integrated physical medicine care. Ask for Sara in the PT Department of OSR’s Kailua office and check out the offer below!

References:

CDC Press Releases. CDC. 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html. Accessed November 9, 2016.

Côté P, van der Velde G, Cassidy J et al. The Burden and Determinants of Neck Pain in Workers. Spine. 2008;33(Supplement):S60-S74. doi:10.1097/brs.0b013e3181643ee4.

Eriksen W, Natvig B, Knardahl S, Bruusgaard D. Job Characteristics as Predictors of Neck Pain. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 1999;41(10):893-902. doi:10.1097/00043764-199910000-00010.

Fejer R, Kyvik K, Hartvigsen J. The prevalence of neck pain in the world population: a systematic critical review of the literature. European Spine Journal. 2005;15(6):834-848. doi:10.1007/s00586-004-0864-4.

Kääriä S, Laaksonen M, Rahkonen O, Lahelma E, Leino-Arjas P. Risk factors of chronic neck pain: A prospective study among middle-aged employees. European Journal of Pain. 2011;16(6):911-920. doi:10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00065.x.

Kaila-Kangas L. How consistently distributed are the socioeconomic differences in severe back morbidity by age and gender? A population based study of hospitalisation among Finnish employees. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2006;63(4):278-282. doi:10.1136/oem.2005.021642.

Mork P, Vik K, Moe B, Lier R, Bardal E, Nilsen T. Sleep problems, exercise and obesity and risk of chronic musculoskeletal pain: The Norwegian HUNT study. The European Journal of Public Health. 2013;24(6):924-929. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckt198.

Vos T, Flaxman A, Naghavi M et al. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet. 2012;380(9859):2163-2196. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(12)61729-2.

Watson N, Badr M, Belenky G et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. SLEEP. 2015. doi:10.5665/sleep.4716.

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