How can pain affect my sleep?
Image by Freepik
Chronic pain and sleeping problems can often create a vicious circle, where being in pain makes sleep difficult, and a lack of sleep increases the experience of pain. Not getting enough sleep has many negative impacts on your life. It can affect your memory, concentration and attention. It can occur for many reasons, but we will explore the reasons commonly experienced by people with chronic pain.
You have probably heard the word "insomnia" before. Insomnia means "no sleep" in Latin, and is one of the most common sleep complaints in teens and adults.
Almost everyone has experienced insomnia at some point. Maybe you have had problems falling asleep before an important exam or job interview, or maybe you had trouble sleeping when you were too excited before or after a fun event.
Insomnia can be a short-lived problem related to a stressful event in your life, but it can also be a long-term problem that persists for many nights, sometimes weeks on end.
The signs and symptoms of insomnia include:
difficulty falling asleep
difficulty staying asleep
waking up too early and being unable to get back to sleep
not feeling well rested in the morning after having a shower or starting to move around
feeling that poor sleep is causing problems during the day.
What can cause insomnia?
Many different factors can contribute to having insomnia. For example, a person with chronic pain may have started having some insomnia because pain interfered with getting comfortable enough to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Many people develop insomnia because they have learned to associate their bedroom with negative thoughts or worries about not being able to fall asleep or with being tense or anxious before falling asleep.
How can my thoughts affect my insomnia?
Negative thoughts, such as, "I will not be able to fall asleep tonight and won’t be able to function tomorrow" can actually prevent you from comfortably settling down to sleep. It is important to know what you are thinking about your sleep because negative thoughts can increase your distress and make it harder to sleep well.
Here are some other examples of negative or unhelpful thoughts.
"I've lost the ability to sleep like a normal person."
"I won't be able to go to school or work tomorrow if I don't sleep well."
"If I don’t sleep tonight, I’ll have to sleep-in tomorrow or take a nap during the day.”
“If I don’t get nine hours of sleep tonight, I won’t be able to function tomorrow.”
Many people develop insomnia because they have learned to associate their bedroom with negative thoughts or worries about not being able to fall asleep or with being tense or anxious before falling asleep. Insomnia is usually something that is learned, much like a bad habit. Just like any bad habit, however, it can be changed with time and practice.