Frequently women battle insomnia when they also suffer from chronic aches and pains. Which stands to reason giving that the definition for chronic means something that “persists for a long time or constantly recurring.” Anytime constant or recurring pain exists in your life, your sleep cycle is likely to be disturbed. And the longer your sleep cycle is disturbed, the worse you tend to experience the underlying ache or pain. It can be a downward spiral.
There are many different conditions which can promote insomnia and sleeplessness including:
- Lower back problems
- Arthritis, predominantly osteoarthritis
- Frequent headaches
- Digestive distress
- Traumatic injuries
- Stress from daily life
- Hormonal imbalances (night sweats)
- A lifetime of poor posture
- Even excess weight
While this is not an exhaustive list of physical conditions, ailments and diseases which can cause frequently recurring aches and discomfort, you can probably see the point. The list of possibilities of what can negatively impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep is long and the impact of not sleeping is a major factor on how well we can rejuvenate and heal so we are well rested and prepared for our day.
Proper sleep depends on you being comfortable and insomnia is frequently a primarily byproduct of the chronic pain you experience.
Fortunately, there are many effective ways to treat and even cure your pain related insomnia, which do not involve taking dangerous sleeping pills and drugs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to effectively reduce or even eliminate sleeplessness. This is a short-term psychotherapy treatment, which is in most cases provided by a psychologist or a chronic pain rehabilitation professional. Over time you learn to break the vicious cycles of insomnia and create new patterns of sleeping. Many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is considered one of the best treatments for insomnia, even when chronic pain is the cause (1).
In some cases, curing the nighttime irritation which keeps you from sleeping is as simple as changing your pillow or mattress.
Chronic pain is sometimes created by negative emotions, including anxiety, sadness and even loneliness.
Whether your persistent agony is caused by your emotional state or a physical illness or disease, retiring to your bed at the same time every night and waking on a regular schedule can help you sleep better.
Alternative chronic pain remedies can include massage, acupuncture, osteopathic or chiropractic spinal manipulation and mindfulness meditation. Some chronic pain insomniacs have even found relief from biofeedback technologies. This requires you to wear special sensors attached to important areas of your body. The information that is recorded is then studied, and a treatment prescribed to alleviate your chronic pain, and your insomnia.
Physical therapy, nerve stimulation and psychological therapies can also help alleviate the insomnia and sleepless nights that your pain is creating.
Resolving the underlying stress from either the mental/emotional, dietary or pain/inflammation so working with a functional nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner can address the underlying stress and resolve or reduce the chronic symptoms that are keeping you from getting the rest you need and desire.
Your first move is to contact your wellness practitioner and explain how you feel your poor sleep patterns are related to your aches and pains. Just remember that because you are experiencing pain, you do not have to “grin and bear it”. Aches and pains may be common but they are not normal. Take a proactive stance in your battle against insomnia and cyclical discomfort, and your efforts will be rewarded. And you deserve it!
(1) Mitchell, M. D., Gehrman, P., Perlis, M., & Umscheid, C. A. (2012). Comparative effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: A systematic review. BMC Family Practice, 13, 40.