Self Care, Pain Management
The short answer is yes. Rapid Eye Movement (REM), the dream state of sleep, and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM), the deepest state of rest, allow your brain and nervous system to recover from the day’s activities.
In his 2017 book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, Matthew Walker tells readers a lack of sleep makes people vulnerable to significant health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, depression… and chronic pain.
According to Walker, during NREM sleep, the brain prunes memories and transfers short-term memories to long-term memory areas, gains “muscle memory,” secretes growth hormones, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
REM sleep forms new neural connections, assimilates complex memory knowledge, supports problem-solving, creates dreams, dulls emotional responses to painful memories, and gives people the ability to pick up on facial cues.
Many studies show an association between increased pain and less sleep. Research by Patrick Finan and his colleagues suggests that sleep disturbances impair key processes that contribute to the internal development of chronic pain, including joint pain.
People require both pain and sleep for survival.
At first glance, that statement makes us stop and think. Do we need pain for survival?
Yes. Pain is a warning system.
Sleep helps our bodies and our nervous systems recover from painful situations.
Three areas to adjust for better sleep.
According to Matthew Walker, there are several habits you can adopt to regulate and normalize your sleep. Changing just one or two habits at a time can improve your sleep. But there’s a caveat: What works for one person may not affect another. The key is to find the best sleep routine for you.
Adjust your bedtime and morning routines. Most activities work better on a schedule. Your sleeping pattern is no different. Creating a waking and sleeping plan can help you enjoy better sleep quality.
The lifestyle choices we make during the day can affect how we sleep at night.
Create a bedtime ritual and sleep-friendly atmosphere. Take time to relax and settle down before going to bed.
Making changes to your lifestyle or routine can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Over time, you will start enjoying deep, restorative sleep. As you become more rested, your sensitivity to pain may decrease.
If you suffer from chronic pain or pain that keeps you awake, contact Bone & Joint’s pain management or interventional physical therapy specialist for an appointment. A pain specialist will work with you to reduce or end pain.
Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Scribner. 2017
Krause AJ, Prather AA, Wager TD, Lindquist MA, Walker MP. The Pain of Sleep Loss: A Brain Characterization in Humans. Journal of Neuroscience 20 March 2019, 39, 2291-2300; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2408-18.2018
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
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