Can poor sleep affect my pain?

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

It is no secret that sleep is an important part of life and even more obvious that it plays a large role in mental and physical well-being. Feeling drained of energy, finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling achy and dazed is a universal feeling and chances are you have felt like this after not getting enough sleep before.

It makes sense that after a deprived or disrupted sleep you may feel lethargic, make poor decisions or be a little slower to react but have you ever wondered why you feel more sore than usual after a poor nights sleep? It’s a common saying for people to tell you they ‘slept wrong’ but is that really the case? Does poor sleep really affect my pain?

There have been many studies conducted to show that pain and sleep are very closely related, particularly in people who have chronic pain. It is shown that if you have less than 6 hours sleep your pain threshold is lowered, meaning you are more likely to have increased pain the next day. This is because the effect of pain pathways that work by releasing natural painkillers is decrease. Also the amount of chemicals that cause swelling in the body increase when you don’t get enough sleep.

Furthermore having a poor sleep or not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis, even if it is just for a short period of time, can be associated with having pain 3 years into the future and in developing persistent widespread pain. Poor sleep quality has even been linked to being overweight in the future.

There is good news however, changing your sleep patterns to increase the amount of sleep you are getting, (getting to bed earlier) is associated with a reduction in long term pain and overall increasing the total amount of sleep per day, will not only reduce daily pain but also reduces anxiety, stress and depression. Even napping helps reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation. However be careful not too nap too late in the day as to not affect your sleep routine at night and also avoid napping for greater than an hour and a half.

Improving your quality of sleep is easier said than done. Here