|“Bed of Nails” by Herbert Ponting, 1907. Public domain.|
Pain is the enemy of sleep. Pain causes disruption in sleep. Lack of sleep antagonizes pain. Put pain inside a body that desperately needs sleep and you’ll find yourself at war.
Today’s advice is very simple. Treat your pain.
In a 2010 WebMD article on pain and sleep, neurologist Charles Bae, MD at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic was quoted as saying, “Pain can be the main reason that someone wakes up multiple times a night, and this results in a decrease in sleep quantity and quality, and on the flip side, sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold and pain tolerance and make existing pain feel worse.”
Pain comes from everywhere. Many sleep patients struggle with arthritis, heartburn, migraines, postoperative pain, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, lower back pain, degenerative discs, muscle pain, pain from postural problems like scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome. All of these kinds of pain (and many many more not listed here) lead to disruptions in sleep.
We live in a culture of extremes. There are lots of people taking pain medications illicitly and for no legitimate reason. There are lots of people in terrible pain who don’t want to take any drugs at all. Some people will try nutraceutical approaches instead of drugs (though some would argue they are more or less the same thing). Others will go for alternative therapies like chiropracty or acupuncture or yoga or meditation. Still others say that all those alternative therapies are quackery.
It’s not SleepyHead Central’s job to tell you how to treat your pain. There are all kinds of options. But if you decide not to treat your pain, and you lose hours of sleep because of it, night after night, you should be warned that it can only get worse for you. Insufficient sleep (sleep deprivation) leads to the aggravation of all kinds of concurrent health problems as well as the development of new problems.
Don’t be a hero. Treat your pain however you like. But do it. You’ll sleep better and your health will be better in the long run.