What Is the Connection Between Sleep, Pain and Mental Health?

What Is the Connection Between Sleep, Pain and Mental Health?

Facts state that around 50-70million US adults have a sleep disorder, and about 35.3% of people say they're getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a typical 24-hour day. 

Getting enough sleep helps relieve mental stress and improves a persons overall health. Its absence has ramifications on your health. Sleepiness, mental stress, inability to focus, irritability, weak immune system and so on are ways our body gets affected. When left untreated, sleep deprivation can also lead to poor mental health. Stress, anxiety, sadness, and bipolar disorder are possibilities in such a case. 

Poor sleep is caused due to various reasons, such as age, excessive caffeine, noise disturbances, uncomfortable bedrooms, illness and so on.

Pain and sleep

Pain is a substantial contributor to poor sleep and, as a result harms mental health. Acute or chronic pain makes it difficult to sleep, and you may not get sufficient sleep. A vicious cycle develops—pain impairs your ability to sleep, and lack of sleep reduces your pain tolerance, making existing pain worse. 

Pain is also a common cause of people waking up frequently throughout the night, reducing sleep quantity and quality. Some forms of pain, such as arthritis, lower back pain, and severe headaches can disturb sleep for days or even weeks. When left untreated, these can trigger insomnia in a person. Pain and insomnia  in turn  will adversely affect mental health and overall well-being.

How are sleep and mental health connected? 

The activity of the brain varies during different stages of sleep. Your brain's overall activity slows down and evaluates events from the day during the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage, often known as the active stage of sleep. At the REM stage (also known as the 4th stage of the sleep cycle), your brain absorbs emotions and information and heals the body and mind. Each step of sleep is experienced twice or thrice per night and is necessary for brain function. Good sleep promotes clearer thinking, learning, memory, focus and overall mental well-being.

Insufficient sleep makes it harder for your brain to process emotional information, influencing mood and emotional reactivity and pushing people towards mental health disorders. This can be severe to the point that the person may become suicidal. As a result, it is reasonable to conclude that sleep is both a cause and a consequence of mental health.

How are pain and mental health related? 

Chronic pain causes insomnia and sleep disturbances. When pain lasts for a long time, a person may develop sleeplessness linked to depression and other primary mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Pain and insomnia combined reduce the pain endurance power of patients, making even minor pain appear intense and causing them to recuperate more slowly than others. It is critical to contact a doctor if you have any sleep disturbance, as research shows that around 33% of the world's population suffers from insomnia. In addition, therapy for pain and insomnia is critical since sleeplessness and pain can lead to other physical health problems like heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and depression.

To conclude

Further research is needed to identify the diverse connections between sleep, pain, and mental health. The existing evidence suggests that these are critical care points for better mental health and overall well-being. 


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