Around 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, according to the CDC, and about 20 million of them have pain that is severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. Pain affects sleep in many ways, both physically and mentally. Its mere existence raises stress levels, which makes it hard to obtain the required amount of sleep quantity and quality human beings need.
The National Sleep Foundation has stated that “the sleep gap narrows sharply among those who make sleep a priority.” If you're in pain, what steps can you take to reduce it so as to enjoy the rest and relaxation you need to be your best self?
Motivation Is Key
Research by the National Sleep Foundation has found that being "very or extremely motivated" to sleep better has very positive results – to be precise, around 36 more minutes of sleep nightly than when motivation is lacking.
Making a commitment to sleep quality is key, since missing a few nights of quality sleep can trigger a cycle that gets worse as the nights go by. Arguably the most important step to take is to take steps to reduce your pain – be it through treatment, physiotherapy, or any other steps recommended by your doctor.
What About Transitory Pain?
Sometimes pain is something you simply have to put up with for a matter of days. This is the case with something as simple as a sprained ankle, wound, or even a tattoo. Of course, not all tattoos cause notable pain. Larger tattoos may cause a vibrating, dull, or stinging pain. It is all very individual, with factors such as placement, style of the tattoo, and how rested your body is dictating the level of pain you may feel.
For tattoo pain, over the counter numbing products and anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can help. This same medication plus ice and rest, meanwhile, can also soothe sprains and other minor injuries enough for you to sleep through the pain.
Sleep Hygiene Steps
People living with pain should be particularly vigilant about following sleep hygiene routines. These include limiting their caffeine consumption, taking required medication, and the adoption of stress-busting activities such as progressive muscle relaxation, pranayamic (abdominal) breathing, and holistic activities that can help with pain. Yoga in particular has been found to effectively reduce pain, but it is just one of many strategies which can work together to promote better sleep.
In recent (2019) research by scientists at the Boston Medical Center, it was found that yoga, used alongside physical therapy, can help reduce chronic back pain and improve sleep.
Acupuncture And Pain
Another study published in the British Medical Journal found that tailored acupuncture sessions reduce pain intensity among people with the chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia. In the study, acupuncture for 10 weeks resulted in a 41% drop in pain. Aspects such as pressure pain threshold and the number of "tender points" also improved with this age-old therapy. Patients also enjoyed better quality of life and improved function.
There is a vital link between pain and sleep. Pain can interrupt sleep, but poor sleep can also exacerbate the intensity of pain. Enjoying a good night’s sleep involves a multifaceted strategy which should include good sleep hygiene. Holistic methods such as acupuncture and yoga can be employed alongside traditional treatments.
When Is It Time to See a Doctor?
It is time to find a sleep professional when pain causes sleep problems and you are unable to fall asleep again. There are a variety of treatments available to ease the sleep problems of chronic pain sufferers. Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today for your free sleep assessment with a board-certified sleep specialist.