STRESS, SLEEP & PAIN
Many people who suffer with chronic pain have to deal with increased stress as well as poor sleep. Successfully treating pain, of course, will make stress and poor sleep much less of a concern. What do you do when stress and poor sleep interfere with your body’s ability to get well and cause pain to persist?
There are some powerful but often ignored solutions I offer that almost anyone can use to reduce the effects that stress and poor sleep have on pain and inflammation. Before I describe these powerful solutions, it is helpful to consider a few facts about the connection between stress, poor sleep, pain and inflammation.
Most people in pain have had the all too common experience of finding that stressful situations increase pain. Unfortunately, our body is designed for this reaction. Through a process that is referred to as Fight or Flight, stressful situations lead to several temporary biological events that are meant to protect the body. If you are in immediate danger, this system works quite well. If the stress is prolonged, the effects on health can be damaging. Part of the response to long term stress may be a sustained increase in certain hormones, like cortisol, and inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines, that can make pain worse and slow or stop your body from recovering from pain and injury. As you may know all too well, pain itself is stressful as are accompanying problems like missing work, not being able to travel, etcetera. Pain and stress can become a vicious cycle.
Less well recognized is the contribution that poor sleep plays in inflammation and incomplete recovery from pain. If you have had a bad night or a series of bad nights of sleep, you know how tired and foggy you can feel during the day. Of all medical conditions, pain is the number one cause of insomnia. Whether sleep is disturbed because of pain or other causes, it does
more than make you tired and cranky. Poor sleep results in pain and can even reduce the effectiveness of pain medications. Recent research is even more concerning: one night of sleep loss triggers an immune response that includes stimulation of pro-inflammatory proteins in otherwise healthy people. In one study, UCLA researchers looked at blood and DNA samples of 30 healthy volunteers on three normal days and after a partial night sleep of deprivation. They found white blood cells produced increased amounts of two inflammatory proteins after one night of sleep loss. Imagine how this might feel to someone already in pain who sleeps poorly, night after night.
Find out the Solutions to Pain from Stress and Poor Sleep, read more here.