For those with chronic pain, sleep is both an important and often complicated area. Pain can make it more difficult to sleep for many people, and quality of sleep may also suffer in significant ways for some depending on their symptoms.
At Neuropathy Treatment Clinic of Oklahoma, we’re happy to provide pain management services for a wide variety of chronic pain conditions, from back pain to neck pain, nerve issues, sciatica and many other areas. Sleep and its connection to pain and recovery are such important areas that we’ll be using this space for a multi-part series on everything you need to know in this area – from how sleep and pain are connected to important info on sleep cycles, sleep improvement tips for those with chronic pain, and several other important areas.
Basics on Sleep and Pain
Sleep is important for many purposes, and recovery from pain or other issues is among them. At the same time, however, pain may interrupt normal sleep cycles and the ability to fall asleep.
This is because, for proper sleep, the body’s nervous system must calm down. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, you have a much more active nervous system than the average person, which can create significant issues in terms of how long it takes the system – and you – to relax. Let’s look at the cycles of sleep to help explain this a bit further.
There are several specific stages of sleep to be aware of:
- Stages 1 and 2: Lighter stages near the early parts of the night.
- Stages 3 and 4: Deeper sleep stages, often called “slow wave sleep.”
- REM sleep: After a brief period of lighter sleep, we move into rapid eye movement, or REM sleep. This is where dreams take place.
This cycle will be repeated several times in a given night – it does not happen just once. But when you’re in chronic pain, the lighter periods of sleep are often interrupted or cut off altogether, causing you to wake and block the cycle. This, as we noted above, increases activity in the nervous system and forces it to calm down all over again just so you can get back to sleep.
Our next several sections will go over tactics to help limit this interruption of the cycle for those with chronic pain.
One of the top methods for improving sleep is focusing on your routine. This means getting up at the same time each morning no matter how much sleep you had before, which will help you get into a solid cycle. You can also try to go to sleep around the same time each night, plus consider the same routine ahead of bed that will teach your body to expect certain things and be more comfortable during sleep.
For more on the connection between pain and sleep, or to learn about any of our pain management programs, speak to the staff at Neuropathy Treatment Clinic of Oklahoma today.