A U.K. study has linked pain and insomnia, but researchers concede that the connection could be explained by lifestyle changes that often happen due to persistent pain. A summary explains that older adults with pain for more than a day are more likely to report trouble sleeping years later.
“Although we know that people with chronic pain are more likely to report problems sleeping than people without any pain, we know very little about how the presence of pain leads to the development of insomnia,” said lead author Nicole K.Y. Tang of the University of Warwick, Coventry, U.K.,
Tang and her team mailed questionnaires to all people age 50 or older registered with general medical practices in North Staffordshire, U.K. People with pain lasting more than one day in the previous month were asked to shade the area of pain on a blank body diagram.
“Three years later, compared to people without pain at the start, the people with pain were more likely to say their sleep problems had worsened, according to results in the study titled “Impact of musculoskeletal pain on insomnia onset: a prospective cohort study” which is published in the journal Rheumatology,”. “And those with widespread pain at the start were twice as likely to develop insomnia as those with no pain.”
“We believe that engagement in physical and social activities are important to promoting sleep, as it generates sleep pressure and brings exposure to light and mental stimulation that are essential for the regulation of our circadian rhythm,” says Tang.