Everyone at some point experiences sleepless nights. Whether it be stress from work, crying babies at 3am, or that cough/cold that just won’t let up. This is all part and parcel of being a grown up, is it not? However; true insomnia is a different ‘kettle of fish’. Depending on which stats you believe, anything from 50% – 90% of people suffering with chronic pain say they suffer with sleep problems. Often waking up feeling like they haven’t even slept at all. This is certainly something I have experienced personally.
Fragmented and disturbed sleep interferes with your normal sleep cycle. During a normal nights sleep you go through light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is this deep sleep and REM sleep that makes you feel rested and refreshed in the morning. This cycle is repeated 3-5 times a night. So it stands to reason that the more of cycles that are disturbed, or the less cycles you complete, the more tired you will feel.
I think it would be fair to say that chronic pain sufferers experience this more than your average person. The obvious factors for this such as acute pain flares, chronic pain and discomfort, muscle spasms, neuropathy / nerve pain all make it near impossible to to drop off to sleep at times and increases the likelihood the the suffer may wake up once asleep. Other factors such as medications and associated health problems only compound this problem more. Of course tiredness can have the obvious effects on mood, concentration and motor abilities. Prolonged sleeplessness however, can also make pain worse. Adding to the daily challenges of chronic pain sufferers. People who have chronic pain usually suffer with chronic fatigue. In the case of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) its the repetitive inflammatory processes that happen that contribute to this. A lack of restful sleep only increases the level of fatigue in which chronic pain sufferers experience. Yet another one of the vicious cycles which seem to be prevalent in AS and all arthritic conditions.
There are many documented management strategy’s for insomnia. Just ‘google’ it and you will soon see. But I’d like to here from you. What are your experiences? How do you manage it? Medication? Exercise? Or do you have some secret technique you’d be willing to share? For those of us that experience this we know the negative side of insomnia. So I’m inviting you to share any positive experiences you may have had, and any advice you may have for people that may be experiencing this for the first time.
Comments / feeback can be left by clicking the bubble in the top right of this post. Feel free to share resources and links. Looking forward to hearing your experiences and wisdom.