A new study shows that the way chronic pain patients think about their pain and sleeping habits can actually lead to worsening pain symptoms.

The study from the University of Warwick Sleep and Pain Laboratory was published on September 21, 2016. Researchers studied how lack of sleep can affect pain patients, such as those suffering from lower back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Researchers developed a scale that measured the participant’s beliefs about their pain levels and quality of sleep. This was to show how the two conditions are connected, as so many chronic pain patients already know so well.

The press release on the study noted that:

“The scale was tested on four groups of patients suffering from long-term pain and bad sleeping patterns, with the result showing that people who believe they won’t be able to sleep as a result of their pain are more likely to suffer from insomnia, thus causing worse pain.”

This is an important step in understanding how our thoughts can directly influence our sleeping habits. Because of this, researchers tested the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for those patients who believed they wouldn’t be able to sleep because of their pain. They found that cognitive behavioral therapy helped patients find better sleep, and also reduced pain levels.

Esther Afolalu noted:

“Current psychological treatments for chronic pain have mostly focused on pain management and a lesser emphasis on sleep but there is a recent interest in developing therapies to tackle both pain and sleep problems simultaneously. This scale provides a useful clinical tool to assess and monitor treatment progress during these therapies.”

We know that chronic pain and sleep are intimately connected. You can learn more about managing sleep as a chronic pain patient by reading more of our posts on this topic:

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, contact one of our pain doctors to learn about the pain treatment options that can help you get your life back!


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