What is the connection between chronic pain and sleep problems?

David A. Hanscom, MD
Spine Surgery
Sleep is imperative to managing and reversing chronic pain; lack of sleep changes the perception of pain drastically. In this video, spine surgeon David Hanscom, MD, explains how important sleep is in treating chronic pain on a long-term basis.
An important area of research into the connection between sleep and chronic fatigue looks at the role of pain. The physical pain associated with chronic fatigue may be a significant factor in the sleep problems experienced by people with chronic fatigue. We know that pain and sleep influence each other in multiple ways. Pain can make sleep difficult to achieve and sustain. Lack of sleep, in turn, can make us more sensitive to pain. Studies like this one have shown that pain causes chronic fatigue patients to wake more often throughout the night than either healthy people or those with depression. And one study found that disruption to slow wave sleep in healthy people triggered physical pain and fatigue similar to people with chronic fatigue syndrome. As researchers themselves note, the role of muscle pain in sleep disorders among chronic fatigue sufferers is an area of research that warrants more attention and further study.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.