People who report suffering from widespread or long-lasting pain are at a higher risk of developing long-term insomnia.
Nicole K.Y. Tang, PhD, of the University of Warwick, England, and colleagues examined more than 6,600 individuals aged at least 50 at baseline and at a 3-year follow-up. They found that the connection between pain and insomnia can be explained as much by lifestyle changes that result from the pain.
People in pain are less likely to engage in physical activity, for example. “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,” Tang told Reuters.
At the follow-up, the people with pain were more likely to say their sleep problems had worsened compared to people without pain at the start, the researchers reported in Rheumatology. Also, those with widespread pain at baseline were twice as likely to develop insomnia as those with no pain.
Increasing physical activity and social participation, especially in older people, may reduce the risk of developing insomnia, the researchers concluded.
Older adults with pain for more than a day are more likely to report trouble sleeping years later, according to a new study. The risk of long-term sleep problems was even higher for people reporting widespread pain in the survey. It might not be just the pain that’s leading to insomnia, the researchers say.
Instead, much of the connection could be explained by lifestyle changes that often happen due to persistent pain, said lead author Nicole K.Y. Tang of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.