Ask the Beds Expert – Michael Gakan
What are the most common causes of the pain and sleep problem?
The major causes of sleep loss due to pain are back pain, headaches, facial pain caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, which is characterized by pain in and around the ears and soreness of the jaw muscles. Also, muscoloskeletal pain, which includes arthritis and fibromyalgia, can lead to poor sleep. Women report problems with visceral and abdominal pain as well as premenstrual cramping. It’s important to note that overall impact of visceral and abdominal pain in women is misunderstood. We need more studies in this area. Pain from cancer, the disease itself and its treatment, is also a major offender in causing poor sleep.
What can people do at home?
Practicing good sleep hygiene is key to achieving a good night’s sleep. Some tips for people with chronic pain are:
- Stop caffeine consumption.
- Limit alcohol intake, with no alcohol in the evening.
- Avoid vigorous exercise. However, light exercise in the afternoon can be helpful.
- Take a brief nap in the afternoon, no more that 10–20 minutes.
- Use of pain killers and/or sleeping pills are effective, but should be used under the supervision of a physician.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing.
When is it time to see a doctor?
It is time to seek professional help when pain causes sleep problems two to three times a night, and you are unable to fall asleep again. There are a variety of treatments available to ease the sleep problems of chronic pain sufferers, including medication and physical therapy. Doctors may also recommend seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist.