80% of all people suffering under chronical pain are also extremely suffering under sleep disturbances. In general, lack of sleep causes manifold restrictions and health burdens. And has a deep impact on pain. The worse a pain patient sleeps the more severe he is feeling his pain.
According to Prof. Dr. Pieh, Danube University of Krems, Austria, there are studies that show that patients who slept bad before operation had more pain after operation than patients who had a good sleep before operation. Using the example migraine, the neurologist and sleep medical specialist Senvja Happe, clinic “Maria Frieden”, Germany, explains the connection with sleep. Here, the importance of a regular sleep-wake-cycle is clearly visible: often attacks of migraine arise on a weekend. The fact, that the personal rhythm often is disturbed by late getting-up-times is playing an essential role.
When taking a look at the single phases of sleep an interaction of pain and sleep becomes visible, too. Migraine often arises during REM-sleep. EEG recordings showed that after an attack of migraine a shortened phase of REM-sleep is following. At the end of such an attack a phase of deep sleep is following. It is a known fact that deep sleep is especially important for physical recovery and for healing processes. On the other hand, deep sleep shortage leads to a rise of pain sensitivity and is lowering the pain threshold. The conclusion is obvious: sufficient deep sleep definitely has a therapeutic effect.
According to Prof. Dr. Aigner, University Hospital Tulln, Austria, the same brain-regions are involved in sleep stabilization and in development of pain. The same applies for different transmitters, like for example acetylcholine. This transmitter is not only responsible for triggering REM-sleep and for promoting wakefulness but it is also released in the case of an injury and is absorbed by pain-transmitting receptors. Or endogenous opioids: they are promoting deep sleep and analgesic at the same time.
Sleeping pills and analgesics often contain substances that negatively influence different sleeping phases. But, each sleeping phase is influencing our physical and mental recovery and therewith is essential for our health, our well-being and our performance. Out of this reason, it is important – especially for pain patients – to find solutions that enhance healthy sleep and prevent sleep disturbances.
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