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Can Sleep Deprivation Worsen Your Chronic Pain?

Jul 13, 2020 | Texas Partners Healthcare Group

Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Increased Pain

For millions of Americans across the country, chronic pain is a regular part of their lives. While some cases may be minor, others experience excruciating pain that makes simple tasks, such as getting out of bed or tying their shoes, next to impossible. Your pain may be the result of a host of different conditions and illnesses, with some being more severe than others. Furthermore, certain things can worsen your chronic pain that aren’t always directly linked to your pain. Some of these include a poor diet, overuse, underlying health conditions, and even sleep deprivation.

Many people understand that chronic pain can cause sleep deprivation on its own, but the opposite is also accurate – poor sleep or lack of quality sleep may increase your level of pain. According to a variety of studies and research, getting enough sleep each night can reduce your symptoms of chronic pain. The better your sleep quality, the less pain you will feel. This can be a challenge, especially for those whose pain is debilitating. However, there are things you can do to improve your sleep quality and prevent sleep deprivation.

Chronic pain can be debilitating and soul-crushing at times. You may be looking for any option to help relieve this pain. Getting enough quality sleep can help reduce your pain. However, if your pain persists, the pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group are here to help you.

Sleep Deprivation’s Impact

Most people think the main link between sleep and pain is that pain leads to poor sleep quality. However, poor sleep can worsen your chronic pain, as well. When you get enough sleep, you give your body the time it needs to replenish and refresh. Your body can heal during slumber, but when you aren’t getting good sleep, your body cannot refresh and heal as it should. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults who do not get the expert-recommended seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to report one of the top ten chronic health conditions, as opposed to heavy sleepers.

Unfortunately, poor sleep is quite common throughout the country. According to the American Sleep Association, between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults suffer from a sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. If you have a sleep disorder or struggle to get quality sleep, your chronic pain may worsen over time.

Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted a study that looked at the brain activity of people suffering from sleep deprivation experiencing pain to learn more about the connection between the two. Their findings revealed an increase in activity in the somatosensory cortex, the area that processes sensations in the body and where pain sensitivity increases. They also discovered that sleep deprivation reduced the activity related to pain relief, particularly the regions that control the release of dopamine, the body’s feel-good hormone.

As you can see, a lack of sleep can have drastic effects on your pain. And the research doesn’t stop there.

Pain Sensitivity

When your body does not receive the quantity or quality of sleep it needs, you may go through your day experiencing daytime fatigue. This fatigue is a feeling of sluggishness and low energy that hits you after a bad night’s sleep. Researchers at Harvard found that they could improve the pain sensitivity of sleep-deprived mice by increasing their daytime alertness with caffeine. This reduced their pain more than morphine did.

Like with the mice, sleep deprivation can also reduce pain sensitivity in humans. A study in Norway discovered that insomniacs had a lower pain tolerance than well-rested individuals. In an experiment where participants had to hold their hands in a bucket of ice-cold water. Those who suffered from insomnia or another sleep disorder were more than twice as likely to pull their hands out of the water early.

It’s vital to know that good sleep can improve your pain sensitivity and reduce your symptoms of chronic pain. However, what if your pain is what caused your sleep disorder? Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to you at the pain management clinic at Texas Partners Healthcare Group. Here, our pain management doctors will create a specialized treatment plan to treat and relieve your pain. We can also provide you with some tips to improve your sleep hygiene, such as the best sleep positions and what activities to avoid before going to bed. If your chronic pain and sleep deprivation continue, contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group and let us help you live life well again.

Improving Sleep Hygiene

Improving the quantity and quality of your sleep can improve your pain threshold and reduce your symptoms of chronic pain. You can boost your sleep quality by improving good sleep habits, which is also known as your sleep hygiene. Some tips to improve your sleep hygiene include:

By following these tips, you may be able to increase the number of good night’s sleep. However, if you continue to experience insufficient sleep, you may need to contact a sleep specialist to help you improve your sleep.

If you do have good sleep hygiene but continue to have poor sleep quality due to your pain, you may need to reach out to the pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group. We offer a host of treatment options that can help break the cycle of chronic pain and sleep deprivation. We can address the pain directly and work with a sleep specialist to improve your sleep habits. To learn how we can help you, contact our pain management clinic today.