A common but usually undiagnosed and untreated symptom of chronic pain is sleep disturbance. When people suffer with pain, their sleep quality is often disrupted, making the sensation of pain worse. The sleep state is required for humans to rejuvenate and repair the body. When sleep problems occur, the body is hampered in performing its important functions. In “healthy” people, this is a problem; for those who suffer with pain, it becomes especially difficult.
A position paper from the important pain conference at the National Institute of Health strongly recommended that health care providers who treat people with pain take special note to monitor their patients’ sleep patterns and any disturbances.
When evaluating sleep disturbances, it is necessary to identify what type the patient experiences:
Difficulty falling asleep,
Difficulty maintaining sleep,
Early morning arousal. It is not unusual for many people with pain to suffer with all three types of sleep disturbances.
For people with pain, the most common reason for sleep problems is the pain itself. Many patients feel exhausted and, while they may eventually be able to fall asleep, they are awakened throughout the night due to their pain.