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Cheyham Lodge, 11 Cheam Road, Ewell Village, Epsom, Surrey KT17 1ST

Less sleep….more pain ?

– People who sleep poorly may be more likely to develop a chronic pain condition and have worse physical health, a study from the UK suggests.

Esther Afolalu of the University of Warwick in Coventry. and colleagues reviewed 16 studies involving more than 60,000 adults from 10 countries. The studies looked at how well people were sleeping at the start, and then evaluated the effects of long-term sleep changes on pain, immune function and physical health. Half the participants were tracked for at least four and a half years.

A general decline in both the quantity and quality of hours slept led to a significant increase in pain problems over time, researchers found.

“Sleep and pain problems are two of the biggest health problems in today’s society,” said Afolalu.

Pain is known to interfere with sleep, she told Reuters Health by email. But the new study shows “that the impact of sleep on pain is often bigger than (the impact of) pain on sleep,” she said.

 Sleep disturbances, she added, contribute to problems in the ability to process and cope with pain.

One limitation of the analysis is that the studies relied on participants to recall their own sleep patterns. Also, the studies didn’t all use the same tools to measure sleep quality and quantity.

Richard Katesmark comments; ” After 30 years in practice it has become clear to me that pain can be a cause of poor sleep & that poor sleep can both exacerbate pain AND make people more vulnerable to developing pain in the first place .

Here at Cheyham Lodge questions regarding patients sleep patterns are a standard part of the initial consultation. If any problems are flagged up these need to be addressed. Sometimes advice re life style changes is sufficient to improve sleep & certain dietary supplements can be helpful,  on other occasions further referral may be required.

What is certain is in those suffering from chronic or frequent pain, it is of critical importance to incorporate sleep improvement strategies,”
n.b. We have useful (free) self-help handouts with advice on how to improve sleep , please contact the clinic if you would like a copy.