5 Ways Your Sleep Habits Cause You To Struggle With Pain

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Which came first, the sleep deprivation or the pain?

 

It seems obvious how pain effects sleep.  Clients with low

back pain frequently come to us with questions on how to

get to sleep, the best position for sleep, and how to get out

of bed in the morning with a stiff sore back.

 

However, we are now going to reverse the roles and see

what effect sleep (or lack of sleep) has on pain.  Perhaps,

sleep deprivation can be the cause of pain in the first place.

 

A recent study was conducted on individuals experiencing

"non-restorative sleep", meaning they slept too few hours

or woke frequently throughout the night.  They found

that this sleep deprivation was the strongest predictor of

new onset widespread pain.  This was especially true in

test subjects over the age of 50.  These individuals were

more likely to experience pain symptoms in multiple

joints and muscles.

 

I believe that learning how poor sleep habits effect our

pain can better help us manage and prevent pain

symptoms.

 

What exactly is sleep deprivation doing to our bodies?

 

 1. Disrupting Homeostasis

 

Sleep serves to maintain homeostasis and optimize

function across all systems of our body.   Poor sleep will

impact virtually every aspect of your health.

 

The sleep-wake cycle drives the rhythms of activity in our

body at a cellular level.  When our cells aren't able to

function properly, systems including our muscles and

joints start to break down.  The consequence over time is

pain.

 

 2. Inflammation

 

It's been shown that lack of sleep can lead to serious

diseases including heart disease, heart attack, heart failure,

high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. What do all of

these diseases have in common?  Inflammation.

 

A pro inflammatory state occurs with sleep deprivation

that increases the risk of chronic disease.  The

inflammatory molecules in the body travel to muscles

and joints causing pain and swelling.  In addition, this

aggravates already sore joints affected by previous

injury or arthritis.

 

3. Lack of Recovery

 

It is during sleep that our body naturally has the lowest

levels of inflammation and the greatest opportunity to heal.

Loss of sleep means the muscles and joints miss out on the

repairing benefits of sleep.

 

In addition, growth hormone is produced at the highest

levels during sleep.  This hormone, considered the

"fountain of youth" by celebrities, is what repairs

damaged tissues in our body. Without it, stiffness, pain

and muscle fatigue result with a cascading effect on a

person’s overall activity level.

 

 4. Weight Gain

 

Many other hormones are effected by lack of sleep. . .

melatonin, ghrelin, and leptin primarily.  Ghrelin is the

"hunger hormone" that causes cravings, excess insulin

production, and makes the body store more fat.  As

this hormone is increased with sleep deprivation, leptin

production is decreased.  Leptin is the hormone that

tells us we are hungry and to stop eating decreases.

 

In this way, a lack of sleep leads to weight gain.  In

itself carrying extra weight can increase joint and

muscle pain.  In addition, excess body fat cells fuel more

inflammation.  Another negative cycle of pain, loss of

sleep, and more weight gain.

 

 5. Decreased Pain threshold

 

In recent studies, researchers have shown that losing

sleep may disrupt the body's pain signalling system.

This heightens a persons sensitivity to pain.  One such

study on sleep deprived subjects showed a 24%

decrease in musculoskeletal pain threshold.

 

Although the studies have not uncovered exactly why

this occurs, they do know that catching up on sleep if

you are behind will increase pain tolerance and decrease

perception of pain.

 

In Conclusion. . . 

 

It's important to recognize the detrimental effect that

sleep deprivation has on your body and your pain.  In

fact, researches say that maintaining good sleep patterns

may be one of the most important things you can due to

reduce your risk of experiencing pain as you age.

 

Sleep is a critical piece to any pain management or injury

recovery program. If you continue to struggle with pain and

sleep, discuss with one of therapists today as to whether a

physical therapy treatment plan will be beneficial.

 

You have to sleep well to be healthy and you have to

address your pain to be able to sleep! Inquire HERE today.