The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Insomnia

The connection between chronic pain and insomnia is stronger than you may think. People with acute or chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems than those who do not have pain. Likewise, many people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders may suffer from chronic pain. The key to determining how to correct your sleep issue is figuring out which came first: insomnia or pain.

Losing sleep because of chronic pain is referred to as secondary insomnia, an inability to sleep due to disease or medication. According to the National Sleep Foundation, secondary insomnia affects about one in five Americans a few nights each week.

The effects of disrupted sleep patterns

When pain interferes with sleep patterns, it can adversely affect your mood, thoughts, activities, relationships, work, and overall enjoyment of life. Getting enough restorative sleep each night ensures your body has time to heal, repair, and regenerate. When you don’t get meaningful sleep regularly, your health suffers as a result.

This connection between chronic pain and insomnia is harmful; the pain can make restorative sleep impossible which, in turn, makes you more tired and therefore more sensitive to pain, a cycle that only gets worse if left unmanaged.

What can you do to stop this cycle?

  • Make sleep a priority
  • Stop or limit caffeine and alcohol intake (especially at night)
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or visualization
  • Place a rolled up towel or pillow between your legs (for side sleeping) or under your lower back (for back sleeping) to ease the strain on your back

When is it time to see a doctor or specialist?

A sleeping disorder combined with chronic pain should always be treated together. If your back or hips are preventing you from sleep, but you are too tired to be active, then it’s time to consult a doctor or specialist. Trust the spine specialists at the Spine Surgery of Idaho to help manage your pain and get you back to sleep, comfortably. Call (208) 944-0056 to schedule your appointment today.