Not getting Sleep? Blame it on Pain, Chronic Pain, Belief

There are many individuals who suffer from insomnia or sleeplessness and now researchers blame it on pain or fear among people that they may not get sleep due to pain conditions such as back pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

"I won’t be able to cope with my pain if I don’t sleep well," is the common thinking among these patients with chronic pain conditions, the researchers said.

"Thoughts can have a direct or indirect impact on our emotion, behaviour and even physiology. The way how we think about sleep and its interaction with pain can influence the way how we cope with pain and manage sleeplessness," said Nicole Tang from the University of Warwick in UK.

In many cases, these beliefs are rigid and misinformed and those individuals can be effectively given treatment called cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), the researchers said. The team developed a Pain-related Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep (PBAS) to measure beliefs about pain emanating from sleeplessness.

The scale was tested on 4 groups of patients suffering from chronic pain and insomnia and people who believe they won’t be able to sleep due to chronic pain are more likely to suffer from sleeplessness, thus causing worse pain, said researchers. The scale also helps in assessing and predicting patients’ level of insomnia and pain difficulties.

Now that the link between pain-triggered feeling behind insomnia was found, therapists have to identify and monitor rigid thoughts about sleep and pain that are sleep-interfering, allowing insomnia in people with chronic pain.

Essentially, better sleep reduces chronic pain problems, especially after receiving a short course of CBT for both pain and insomnia, the researchers said in their paper published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.The pioneering study could lead to specific cognitive therapy to cure insomnia and treat chronic pain.

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