We tend to think about back pain as something that gets in the way of sleep.
Of course painful spasms or knots in back muscles are going to make it difficult to get to sleep— or stay asleep.
What you may not know is the equation also works in the other direction. Sometimes not sleeping can be the source of your back pain.
Yes, skipping out on sleep or not sleeping well in general may actually be causing your back pain — or making it worse. Something has huge implications for the 50-70 million US adults who have problems sleeping.
Here are six ways all that nighttime tossing and turning may be feeding your back pain:
1 – INTERRUPTED SLEEP LEADS TO CHRONIC PAIN
Little sleep hiccups throughout the night — when you wake up here and there all night long — are connected with developing chronic pain.
A study found that the brains of people who experienced interrupted sleep were less able to fend off pain signals; and they experienced more spontaneous pain.
Here’s what’s maddening: Chronic pain caused by interrupted sleep contributes to even worse sleep — and even more pain.
What a nightmare!
2 – POOR SLEEP MAY MAKE PAIN WORSE
The worse your sleep, the worse your experience of pain may be.
People who describe themselves as poor sleepers had more intense reactions to painful stimuli than people who slept well, according to a study.
Another study found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis felt exaggerated mood problems and pain as a result of sleep loss; and arthritis-related joint pain flare ups.
You know those people who seem a lot more sensitive to pain than others? These studies suggest lack of sleep may be one explanation!
3 – POOR SLEEP INCREASES INFLAMMATION
Okay, you’re probably asking what is inflammation and what does it have to do with my back pain?
The simple explanation is that inflammation gets stirred up in your body when something is going wrong — usually when you’re fighting a virus or healing from a cut or burn.
But inflammation can also cause pain — or make it worse.
A study found that people who didn’t sleep enough had overactive immune systems — meaning they were generating too much inflammation — and it either caused pain or made their existing pain worse.
4 – TOO LITTLE SLEEP INFLUENCES NEXT-DAY PAIN
Not getting enough shut-eye one night makes pain worse the next day.
According to a recent study sleeping less than six hours in a night is associated with reporting worse pain the following day.
And the relationship worked in the opposite direction, too: Getting more than nine hours of sleep also makes pain worse!
5 – EVEN A SINGLE NIGHT OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION INCREASES PAIN
Just one night of not sleeping makes people much more sensitive to pain and much more anxious, according to this study.
6 – SLEEP DEPRIVATION BLOCKS EFFECTS OF PAIN-RELIEVERS
Studies suggest that, for some people, not getting enough shut-eye won’t just make them more sensitive to pain, it may block the production of things that tend to mellow out pain — like natural painkillers produced by the brain.
And a small study suggests sleeping more may be a more potent painkiller than the kind you can get from your pharmacist.
Okay, now that you know how important a player sleep is in the chronic pain equation, what should you do?
Work hard at getting more sleep! Check out these solutions. Your back will thank you.
Sleeping okay but still struggling with chronic back pain? Contact us online or give us a call at 323-319-2897 and we will be happy to help.