If you have a chronic pain condition caused by an illness or injury, then you may find that it is incredibly difficult to sleep at night. However, if you cannot sleep well, then you will likely feel more pain during the day. This leads to chronic cycle of insomnia and pain. Understanding the problem and breaking out of this cycle is something that can greatly assist your pain management plan. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Does Insomnia Worsen Pain?
There have been many studies that indicate that insomnia can lead to pain. It can cause migraines to form and it can also cause illnesses that lead to pain and soreness. Muscles and joints have also been found to hurt more after exercise if you fail to rest your body with an adequate amount of sleep. The problem has been found to be caused by something called hyperalgesia or an increased body sensitivity to pain. If you have ever heard of an analgesic that reduces pain, then you can think of sleep deprivation working in the opposite way to amplify the negative sensations.
The hyperalgesia can be in part tracked to a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is released into the body when you are stressed in some way. When you are lacking sleep, more cortisol is released into your body. The cortisol helps to heighten your awareness and it can also make you more sensitive to pain. Cortisol is also responsible for making your body more tolerant to high glucose levels. Blood sugar levels then rise and this can cause some pain and lead to more widespread body inflammation.
When you are unable to sleep, serotonin levels may drop significantly. While most people understand that reduced serotonin can lead to depression, then neurotransmitter can also increase your level of pain. Specifically, low serotonin levels have been linked to migraines, fibromyalgia, and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
How Can You Break The Insomnia Cycle?
Certain medications may need to be prescribed to help you get on a normal sleep cycle. However, some medicines are habit forming, so they may not be the best choice for everyone. If you do not want to take medication, then you can start by taking a natural melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body to control and manage your sleep and wake cycles. Your body produces the melatonin in the evening once it becomes dark out.
However, your body may not produce enough melatonin to make you feel sleepy. Also, a boost of the hormone through the use of a supplement can help to encourage a more regular sleep cycle for those who have sleep problems. The good thing about melatonin is that it is natural and will not interfere with pain medications that you take. This may not be true of pharmaceutical grade sleep aids that sometimes cannot be used with pain relievers that can cause drowsiness.
Exercise can help you to beat insomnia as well by increasing endorphins in the body. Endorphins are natural pain relievers and they can also boost serotonin levels. Both of these things can reduce your pain significantly. You should of course work with your pain management specialist to develop an exercise routine that will not exacerbate your pain condition. You also may need to stretch a great deal before exercising.
A physical therapist may be suggested to show you how to move in a way that minimizes your pain. In general, you want to increase your strength, flexibility, and muscle mass over time. This means slowly increasing time and effort during your exercise regimen over the course of several months.