I read this paper this morning on sleep and pain and it is too good to not mention it. We tend to think about how pain can cause us to have poor sleep but this study finds that poor sleep causes us to experience more pain and a poorer quality of life. We need to sleep better to feel better.
These authors did a search of the published literature on sleep and found 16 studies that met their criteria. These studies combined, involved 61,000 participants. The authors were looking into studies that examined the quality and quantity of sleep on the participants pain. The authors found that poor sleep resulted in a two-to three-fold increase in risk of developing a pain condition, small elevations in levels of inflammatory markers, and a decline in self-reported physical health status. The authors also found that, in studies where the participants had improved their sleeping habits, there was a reported improvement in physical health. These participants could do their life better after improving their sleeping habits.
The big take away from this article is to sleep better to feel and function better. As adults we need to be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. We need to rid ourselves of the things that keep us up during the night as well, when we can. Of course the sick child wanting to sleep with mom and dad is going to result in less sleep but hopefully you find that doesn’t happen very often. Having a good mattress is important for proper sleep. If your quality and quantity of sleep is starting to suffer it may be time to consider if you need a new mattress. Stay off your phones or tablet before bed, surfing the internet or playing angry birds on your phone before bed just may be one of the worst things you can do for your sleeping habits. These electronic devices suppress melatonin which is the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Electronic devices will keep our brain active making it difficult for our mind to unwind before bed. The best thing is to put them aside at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
If you are finding more pain and a decreasing level of physical function you may need to consider what kind of sleep you are getting. If you have improved your sleep habits but still suffer from chronic pain, you may need to see a chiropractor.