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Are You Sleepy and Achy?

July 7th, 2015 9:05am

Are You Sleepy and Achy?

It is hard to determine whether a lack of sleep causes more pain or if it is the immense amount of pain that causes less sleep.   Whatever the case, sleep and pain go hand in hand. Tossing around all night watching your clock inch closer and closer to the early hour that you have to wake up is traumatizing! Not only that, but knowing that the day ahead will be full of pain and medication only adds to the horror.  This cycle of little sleep and lots of pain can lead to depression and other health problems.  Let’s break down what the issues may be so you can better understand why your sleep and pain is interacting the way that it is.

There is a bit of irony in this whole thing.  While a person needs a good night's sleep to tolerate pain, pain medication can disrupt your sleep cycle.  Opioid drugs used to treat severe pain actually disrupt the REM cycle.  When you do not get enough sleep, or your sleep does not reach the REM cycle, you may feel pain and be more sensitive to it when you wake up.

Although you may not be able to control how your sleep and medication interact, there are other factors that you may be able to control.  Noises in the night can cause restlessness and even wake you completely.  This can trigger a shift in your sleep cycle and leave you feeling unrested and not very refreshed.  One way to help avoid being woken up in the night and remaining restless afterwards, is to make sure there is some white noise in the background.  If you have a TV in the bedroom, falling asleep with the TV on low may help. Additionally,  white noise machines might be a good option, or simply listening to soothing music, or turning on a fan.  Any form of white noise that is low and subtle can be beneficial, as it typically drowns out any foreign and unexpected sounds.  

One last thing to think about is how comfortable you are when you fall asleep.  Do you take into consideration your surroundings and environmental factors?  First, make sure that you are comfortable in what you sleep in and the temperature of your room is comfortable.  This may affect your pajama layering, or mean turning on or off your fan and opening or closing your windows, anything to keep a comfortable temperature.  Next evaluate how your mattress and pillows may affect your sleep.  Do you wake up feeling stiff and like you slept on a rock? If so, a new mattress or pillow may need to be in your future.

When dealing with pain, it is necessary to get a good night's sleep. Evaluating your complete sleep environment and making necessary changes may positively influence your sleep cycle, ending in less pain and increased daily functioning.  

Recovia is a functional flex-care program that aims to maximize recovery for individuals suffering from chronic pain, injury, or dependency.  The mission is to provide a compassionate, comprehensive, cost effective, and individualized functional rehabilitation program.  For more information, please contact us at 480-364-4009 or visit our information page.

The advice and information provided herein is for educational purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.  Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.


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