Sleep Advice for Aches & Pains
Many of us struggle or have struggled with aches and pains. From chronic pain to temporary injuries, body pain can impact on our day-to-day activities. Pain researcher Dr Nicola Swain shares her insights and recommended remedies to help ease aches and pains; plus discusses the importance of a good night’s sleep to help your body rest and reduce discomfort.
Almost twenty percent of New Zealanders have persistent or chronic pain, that is one in five of us. Many more will also have intermittent pain (injuries and illnesses) that are temporary. The most frequently experienced pain is musculoskeletal pain, that is of the muscles or bones, with the most common type being back pain. Lower back pain, neck pain and other musculoskeletal disorders are three of the top five causes of disability worldwide (depression and anxiety are the other top five disabilities).
One thing we know is that a lack of sleep can make pain worse. Unfortunately, this can become a vicious cycle as pain can result in interrupted sleep and reduced sleep quality, often leading to an increase in pain. Sleep disorders affect half of those suffering with chronic pain. Both pain and sleep problems are also linked to increased depression and anxiety.
Pain can interfere with getting to sleep or staying asleep. Most people will wake up during the night, perhaps to roll over or get comfortable, which often goes unnoticed. However, if our body sends us a pain signal, this can often wake people up entirely. To reduce the likelihood of this, try and quiet the mind’s chatter. Use a calming statement to yourself. Sometimes we can engage in catastrophizing, which is where our pain waking us up, and can turn into thoughts of our day being ‘ruined’, creating stress and anxiety, making it harder to get back to sleep. Instead, try to accept a thought about pain, take a few deep breaths and go back to sleep.
Sleep is essential for health and well-being. Additionally, if you experience any type of pain, you should put a strong focus on finding ways to improve your sleep. Improving sleep can be thought of as a treatment for your pain. Here are some tips to help enhance your sleep quality:
In addition to these recommendations, there are plenty of general sleep tips like going to bed at the same time each night and limiting evening screen time. Do some research and find what works for you.