It is already well established that insufficient sleep can be a predictor of persistent pain symptoms in the general population and those with chronic pain, but the good news is better sleep can reduce your pain.
A 2018 study in the scientific journal, PAIN, found that short total sleep times are associated with reports of moderate to severe pain, in part due to evidence that sleep restriction reduces pain thresholds, thereby increasing the perception of pain.
Disturbed sleep and pain often co-exist and the relationship between the two conditions is complex and likely reciprocal, which means that by improving our sleep we can resolve some pain.
A 5-year study published in the European Journal of Pain concluded that sleep disturbance should be a factor when considering musculoskeletal pain, and that better sleep might be relevant in the resolution and treatment of pain.
Use these tips to reduce your pain by getting better sleep:
- Increase bright light exposure during the day. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy.
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evening. Again, this is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
- Don’t consume caffeine late in the day. Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if you drink large amounts in the late afternoon or evening.
- Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle — especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day, or set your alarm to the same time.
- Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Likewise, a large meal can disrupt sleep if eaten right before bed.
Disturbed sleep has been associated with many disorders, not just pain. Nevertheless, sleep is rarely discussed as a factor to consider in improving one's health and overall wellbeing. Start taking active steps to improve your sleep today!
In addition to better sleep, functional physical therapy can resolve neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain as well as many other physical conditions. Learn how to relieve your pain on our website: Painful Conditions | Superior Physical Therapy (thesuperiortherapy.com)
Here's an Exercise to stretch your Hip Flexor Muscle, one of the most important muscles in your body to keep in shape to reduce pain:
More info on better sleep here: Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep - Mayo Clinic