When you can’t sleep and your head aches or back hurts, what do you lose? A lot of sleep!
In fact, one out of every three American adults (56 million people) lose more than 20 hours of sleep each month, according to findings by a 1996 National Sleep Foundation (NSF) Gallup Poll. Yet many people don’t recognize how large the problem is. Nor do they consider the consequences: lack of energy, bad mood, poor general health, and trouble handling stress. Worse, may sufferers don’t realize what can be done about the problem.
When pain makes it hard to sleep, falling asleep is often the greatest problem. However, 65 percent of those with pain and sleep problems in the Gallup survey were awakened during the night by pain. And 62 percent woke up too early because of pain. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking earlier than desired are all kinds of insomnia. Fifty-six million Americans experience this one-two punch of nighttime pain and sleeplessness and average of 8.5 nights a month. On these nights, they sleep only four hours and 36 minutes.
What’s the bottom line? The average person needs approximately eight hours of sleep a night to function at their best. In addition, people who experience sleeplessness and nighttime pain are more likely to suffer sleeping problems when they’re away from home.
What is keeping you awake? In the NSF survey, back pain was the most common answer, followed by headaches and muscular aches and pains. Whatever the kind of pain you experience, chances are that is accompanies your sleep problem from time to time. Here are some questions to help you try to understand your pain and find relief:
1. Is your pain there most of the time (chronic), rather than only once in a while (occasional)?
2. Is your pain severe (pain that is worse than experienced before or comes on suddenly and doesn’t ease or lessen), rather than minor (i.e. headache, backache, muscular aches and pains, menstrual cramps)?
3. When you have pain, do you also have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking earlier than you’d like?
4. Is it affecting the way you feel, think, and/or behave at home, at work, or when you are with friends and family?
5. Do you want to take action to control your pain and/or improve your sleep?
If you answered yes to all five questions, you should consult your doctor or a pain specialist. If you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is troubled, you may pay the price. The good news is that there are actions you can take and/or medications ( Sleep Aids) to try to manage your problems. What you can do depends on the type of pain, when it occurs, and how will you are to try something new.