Can Too Much Sleep Exacerbate Chronic Pain?


We all focus primarily on the problem of sleep deprivation; however, new research states that too much sleep will cause a worsening for people who suffer from chronic pain.  The current research demonstrates how “Duration of sleep contributes to next day pain reported in the general population.”

Between 50 and 80% of chronic pain sufferers experience insomnia, which suggests that tens of millions of Americans suffer from pain-related sleep disturbance.  Clinical studies have shown that poor sleep is associated with chronic pain; however, little is known of the effect of insomnia as is relates to the experience of pain.  Other studies that have been performed observe the impact that sleep can have, or lack thereof, in day to day life.

The duration of sleep is a highly significant indicator of pain frequency in the days to follow.  The results of several studies suggested that attaining less than 6 hours or greater than 9 hours sleep, was associated with an exacerbation of next-day pain.  One example point to three or fewer hours of sleep was associated with an 81% increase in pain frequency, relative to the normal sleeping pattern of 6-9 hours.  It should also be noted that more than 11 hours of sleep was associated with a 137% increase in pain frequency.  While it stands to reason minimal sleep and greater pain make sense, and between 11+ hours and greater pain might seem puzzling.  To understand this more thoroughly, we must realize this effect may be due to interrupted, fragmented, ro light sleep, which is often unrefreshing, and non-restorative, even after extended hours of sleep.

Therefore, the assessment of sleep disturbance, which can be brought on by either markedly little sleep, or unusually periods of sleep, may identify a person’s increased risk of poor pain-related expressions.  In certain cases, the assessment of sleep and chronic disease states may predict future pain problems.  With all this in mind, it seems clear that sleep and pain are reciprocally interactive and should be addressed simultaneously with both pain and sleep problems.

Importantly, it should be noted that there is a 60% increase in frequency of pain as it relates to sleep patterns that exceed 11 hours; however, the cause must be addressed, and that is why a person must sleep for 11+ hours.  Is it due to increased agitation during the normal sleep pattern, which will cause this individual to be insufficient in rest or other factors?  The determination for cause is imperative in order to accomplish a sufficient nights sleep, and reduce the next-day pain frequency.


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