The relationship between pain and sleep problems is stronger than you think. A bad rest is, among other things, responsible for the pain and vice versa.
When migraine and cervical pain strike. The reason? Well, these discomforts usually disappear after a long day of sleep. Remember that lack of rest can also be the source of pain.
That is why today we will talk about pain and sleep problems. You can hardly surrender to the arms of Morpheus without understanding this relationship perfectly.
If you think about it carefully, the pain – especially the muscular and tensional – can interrupt even the deepest rest. This scenario, which is already bad, is aggravated night after night because:
- The brain is connected to the body’s pain receptors, which means that any signal they perceive will be processed by our personal computer generating stress, fatigue and anguish. The response to pain, in short, is a bad rest.
- Stress, exhaustion, and strong emotions amplify the reaction of neurons to external stimuli. As a result, the sleeper will feel that the intensity of the pain is stronger.
- External factors -such as night heat,a bad mattress or the wrong pillow- and internal factors -insomnia, apnea, among others- increase the sensitivity to pain and prevent an adequate rest.
In short, if your body isn’t able to fall asleep soundly — or maintain uninterrupted rest — you’ll suffer the consequences. In addition to being more intense, the pain will begin to cause posture problems, tension headaches, migraines, and the dreaded cervical pain.
Therefore, it is difficult – if not impossible – to say which came first (the egg or the chicken). What we can do is identify the pains related to poor rest and eliminate the most common causes.
5 pains that will not let you sleep soundly
Now that you know what the relationship is between pain and sleep problems, let’s take a look at the main warning signs. Behind insomnia and difficulty sleeping, there are 5 types of pain:
1. Cervical pain
If you’ve felt severe pain in your neck area – which might even reach your lower head – you know cervical pain firsthand.
Cervical pain is, in simple words, the result of poor posture. In this case, the muscles and tendons surrounding the neck are stretched to the limit, reducing their ability to move.
When the problem progresses, it presses on the upper vertebrae affecting the nerve endings that leave the spine. Over time, the tension ends up decreasing the space between each vertebra welcoming neuralgia.
Main causes of cervical pain
- Excessive pressure. An inappropriate mattress generates pressure in different areas of the body, which decreases blood supply. This reduction prevents oxygen from circulating properly, generating intense headaches that end up becoming cervical pain.
- Activity to the limit. Exercising more than the account or maintaining poor posture during the day can favor the hardening of the neck area.
- Poor posture when sleeping. Misalignment between the head-neck-back is one of the main causes of cervical pain and tension headaches.
- Degeneration of the vertebrae and joints due to osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and similar chronic diseases.
Some symptoms of cervical pain
According to research carried out by REIDE (the Spanish Network of Researchers in Back Ailments), more than 60% of people suffering from cervical pain have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This increases the body’s response to pain, making the intensity greater every day.
In addition to sleep problems, cervical pain produces other symptoms,such as:
- Disc injuries
- Tension headaches
- Vertigo, dizziness and nausea
- Irritability and chronic fatigue
- Bruxism and mandibular tension
- Ear pain or perception of strange sounds
- Paresthesias (bothersome tingling in the extremities)
How to avoid cervical pain?
The pillow plays a fundamental role in reducing cervical pain because it is responsible for supporting the neck area. Choosing a cervical pillow that is not too hard or high and does not deform easily will be enough to obtain optimal alignment.
This, in addition to preventing cervical pain from appearing, will help you keep nocturnal headaches, pain in the arms and lower back at bay. Of course: do not forget that, for this to work, your pillow needs to have more than a special design:
- If you sleep on your side and suffer from cervical pain, choose a high pillow. The height should be proportional to the space between the shoulder and the beginning of the neck.
- If you sleep on your back and suffer from cervical pain, I recommend buying a thin pillow that adapts to the neck’s curvature and supports the head.
- If you sleep on your stomach and suffer from cervical pain, you have two alternatives: sleep without a pillow or buy a unique model for this sleeping posture. Thin down or microfiber pillows can also be a good option – just be sure to change them when they’re attached.
2. Night cramps
Have you woken up with a sharp pain in your legs or calves? This is known as a night cramp, a sudden (and, unfortunately, painful) muscular muscle contraction.
Leading causes of night cramps
There are many factors behind night cramps, but perhaps the most popular are:
- Spending a lot of time in the same position.
- Having cardiovascular problems.
- Having fun on a terrible mattress.
If a mattress is too soft or hard, it will affect your circulation. When the blood does not move properly, the muscle does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and protein.
Some symptoms of night cramps
A Review article stated that 73% of patients with circulatory problems suffer from night cramps. This, without a doubt, is enough to interrupt the rest. Leaving aside the irruption of sleep -which is already annoying- nocturnal cramps also produce:
- Bad venous return
- Mobility problems
- Feeling tired legs
- Tingling in the extremities
How to avoid night cramps?
If you want to say goodbye to night cramps once and for all, increase your nutrient intake,don’t exercise beyond the limit, and buy an appropriate mattress. You need a surface with the ideal firmness and rest areas for the hips, knees and shoulders.
How old is your mattress? Did you know that an old mattress affects rest and therefore, the body? Check out our article on when to change the mattress.
3. Nocturnal headaches
Have you woken up feeling like your head is going to explode? This pain is known as tension headache and can be nocturnal or diurnal.
Main causes of nocturnal headaches
Both daytime and nocturnal tension headache are related to cervical pain. The reason? Muscle contractures of the neck carry pain to the occipital part of the skull.
However, you should know that nocturnal headaches can also be caused by stress, lack of sleep, strong emotions or high blood pressure.
Some symptoms of nocturnal headaches
Nocturnal headache can appear on only one side of the head, behind the eye socket, or in clusters. In addition to pain, it generates irritability, fatigue, tiredness and depression.
How to avoid nocturnal headaches?
The best way to avoid night headaches is to maintain good sleep hygiene. Try meditating before bed, moving a little more in the day, and staying away from coffee, tea, and other exciting substances.
Buying a pillow with good support – such as cervical pillows – will also do wonders.
4. Pain in arms or hips
If what wakes you up is intense, intermittent pain in your arms or hips, chances are the problem – again – is in the mattress. This pain, although harmless, generates discomfort in the sleeper because it does not allow him to maintain a continuous rest.
Main causes of pain in the arms or hips
Both the shoulders and hips are problem areas: they will not have good support without a proper mattress. This will create permanent pressure that reduces circulation and triggers other discomfort, such as night cramps.
Maintaining improper posture during the day could also be a good cause of this type of pain, as could muscle tears generated in an extreme exercise session.
How to avoid pain in the arms or hips?
The best way to reduce this type of pain is to use a mattress with good adaptation:
- You need a medium-high firmness with weightlessness effect if you sleep on your stomach, such as the Kipli mattress.
- If you sleep on your side, look for a medium firmness with good reception, such as the Emma Original mattress.
- I recommend a medium-high firmness with an ergonomic core if you sleep on your back, such as the Bienestar Superior mattress.
5. Back pain
When back pain is the rule, sleep can be mission impossible. This type of pain is usually located in the lower back, right in the lower back.
Main causes of back pain
- Cervical pain
- Herniated discs
- Obesity or overweight
- Lack of muscle tone
- Poor working posture
- A bad mattress or pillow
Some symptoms of back pain
The main symptom of this condition is low back pain. As such, it can be accompanied by limitations in mobility, loss of flexibility, problems falling asleep and inflammation of nearby nerves.
How to avoid back pain?
I leave you three golden recommendations to avoid back pain. The first is simple: walking. Taking a daily walk of 30-60 minutes can be more than enough to correct posture and relieve tension.
My second recommendation would be to check that your mattress and pillow are the most suitable for you. Make sure each product adapts to your weight and posture.
Finally, say goodbye to stress! More than 60% of sleepers with back pain suffer from constant stress at home or the office.
Before I say goodbye, I would like to tell you something: out there, there are other pains that could prevent you from sleeping on your leg. However, in this post I have left you the most common.