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The Importance of Sleep for Managing Chronic Pain

Sleep disturbances for chronic pain patients

If you are living with chronic pain, you know how difficult it can be to get a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, the relationship between chronic pain and sleep is a vicious cycle: the pain makes it hard to sleep, and lack of sleep makes the pain worse. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of sleep for managing chronic pain and provide some references to scientific studies on the topic.

Sleep is essential for the body

Sleep is essential for the body's natural healing processes. During sleep, the body repairs damaged tissues and produces growth hormones that help to rebuild muscles and bones. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can disrupt these healing processes and exacerbate chronic pain symptoms.

A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews found that poor sleep quality is associated with a higher risk of developing chronic pain. The study also found that chronic pain sufferers who experience poor sleep quality have a harder time coping with their pain and are at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, getting enough quality sleep can help to reduce pain sensitivity and improve pain management.

According to a study published in the journal Pain Medicine, sleep deprivation can lead to increased pain sensitivity and decreased pain tolerance.

The study also found that sleep disturbances are common in chronic pain patients and that addressing sleep problems can lead to significant improvements in pain management.

Here are some tips for improving sleep quality and managing chronic pain:

Stick to a regular sleep schedule

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Create a relaxing sleep environment

Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine.

Develop a bedtime routine

A relaxing routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book, can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep quality and disrupt your sleep cycle.

Exercise regularly

Exercise can help to reduce pain and improve sleep quality. Just make sure to exercise earlier in the day, as exercising close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, can help to reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

Journal to help create healthy sleep habits

Journaling is a creative and healthy habit that chronic illness patients can do to help identify what their current sleep habits are, and gives them an opportunity to create new ones.

Journaling is a creative outlet that chronic illness patients can use to manage pain, including sleep patterns.

Patients can use this as an opportunity to develop healthy sleep habits. If you are looking for a tool to help you organize your habits and restructure sleep as a priority in your life, check out the Spoonie Self Care Centre Mental Health Workbook.

We know getting enough quality sleep is crucial for managing chronic pain. Poor sleep quality can exacerbate pain symptoms and make it harder to cope with chronic pain.

By sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing sleep environment, developing a bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, exercising regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, you can improve your sleep quality and reduce your chronic pain symptoms.


  1. Smith MT, Finan PH. The Importance of Sleep Continuity in Chronic Pain. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2015;17(6):32. doi:10.1007/s11926-015-0513-6

  2. Nicassio PM, Mendlowitz DR, Fussell JJ, Petras L. The phenomenology of the pre-sleep state: the development of the pre-sleep arousal scale. Behav Res Ther. 1985;23(3):263-271. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(85)90008-8

  3. Finan PH, Goodin BR, Smith MT. The Association of Sleep and Pain: An Update and a Path Forward. J Pain. 2013;14(12):1539-1552. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2013.08.007

  4. Chiu HY, Chang LY, Hsieh YJ, et al. The Effects of Mind-Body Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:2718715. doi:10.1155/2016/2718715

  5. Tang NKY, Lereya ST, Boulton H, Miller MA, Wolke D, Cappuccio FP. Nonpharmacological Treatments of Insomnia for Long-Term Painful Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Patient-Reported Outcomes in Randomized Controlled Trials. Sleep. 2015;38(11):1751-1764. doi:10.5665/sleep.5170



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