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How Sleep Impacts Your Pain

Busy at work, the holiday season, and social activities - all of these factors are requiring our nervous system to work overtime and keeping us up at night. Insomnia is the difficulty of falling and staying asleep and has a large prevalence in Canada and the USA.

Insomnia is defined as:

  • Difficulty falling asleep and maintain sleep

  • Distress from ones insomnia

  • Difficulty sleeping for at least 3 nights/week for 3+ months

  • Difficulty when there is adequate opportunity to sleep

Lack of quality sleep effects our health in many ways and can contribute to our pain and discomfort and delay healing.

  1. Insomnia affects our overall health. Chronic sleep problems increase rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. You are 5x more likely to have a chronic medical problem if you are constantly sleep deprived

  2. Poor sleep contributes to persistent pain. Lack of sleep leads to higher attention to your pain during the day. Without proper sleep, your body does not have the time to heal injured areas and recover for the following day.

  3. Sleep deprivation impacts cognitive and physical performance. Staying up for more than 20 hours impacts performance to the same level as 0.1% alcohol intoxication. Faster exhaustion also occurs with less sleep which impacts exercise ability.

  4. When you're tired, you are less motivated. With less motivation you are less likely to do the things you enjoy, your rehab exercises, and can potentially lead to depression.

In conclusion, sleep deprivation is a very serious matter and can significantly contribute to persistent pain. Sleep techniques should be included in your rehab treatment pain, like icing on the cake. All the hard work you do during the day to battle your chronic pains, should be rewarded at night with a deep healing sleep.


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