Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Pain Interferes with Your Sleep

When pain interrupts your sleep, it can literally add insult to injury. If you’re dealing with a workers’ compensation injury, pain that interferes with your sleep can take an additional toll on your physical health, your mental well-being, your ability to work and engage in recreational activities, and your personal relationships. 

Unfortunately, one of the most common things we hear from our injured worker clients is that their pain is interrupting their sleep, which can negatively impact all other areas of a person’s life.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the types of pain most commonly associated with insomnia include back pain, headaches, and temporomandibbular joint (TMJ) syndrome. Musculoskeletal pain, including arthritis and fibromyalgia, can also cause sleep problems.

Pain Interferes With Sleep

Pain disrupts sleep cycles. If pain wakes you up, it can cause you to miss out on deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Losing out on this more restful sleep can not only make you feel run down and fatigued, but it can also increase your sensitivity to pain, creating a vicious cycle.

Pain can affect sleep position. Arthritic pain and orthopedic pain can make it difficult to get comfortable at night. Joint and muscle pain can make it difficult to stay asleep at night. Lack of sleep makes you more sensitive to pain. Some research indicates that sleep deprivation causes increased production of chemicals that cause inflammation in the body, which can in turn, cause pain.

Some narcotic pain medications interrupt sleep. Some pain medications, such as codeine and morphine, can cause insomnia. They can also cause apnea, or brief pauses in breathing, during sleep.

Chronic pain may make it difficult to be active. Decreased activity level and lack of exercise can cause weight gain. Added weight can lead to sleep apnea, which can prevent restful sleep.

Getting the Sleep You Need 
  • Meditate or try other relaxation techniques. Guided meditation, tai chi, yoga and other forms of meditation can help train your mind to ignore pain.  
  • Get a massage. Research indicates that people that had massages twice a week experienced better sleep and less low back pain. 
  • Get active. Regular exercise can help with both pain and insomnia. Moderate, low-impact exercises, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, done early in the day, can help with both pain control and can improve your sleep.
  • Avoid long naps late in the day. 
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed. 
  • Play relaxation CD’s with soothing sounds to fall asleep. 
  • Remove all light-producing appliances from your bedroom, including the TV. 
  • Abstain from alcohol in the evening. Alcohol disrupts sleep cycles. 
  • Run a fan or other white noise machine. White noise can drown out outside noises.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. 
  • Don’t exercise or eat within three hours of going to bed. 
If you are having difficulty sleeping due to pain from a work-related injury, talk to your doctor. There are a variety of treatments available, including medication, physical therapy, and other treatments.

In Minnesota, if your work-related injury is causing you to have sleep problems, you may be eligible for medical care for your sleep problem that is covered by the workers’ compensation insurance company. Don’t let insomnia make your work injury worse. 

Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation case consultation.



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