How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Back Pain

Even though the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep, many people struggle to get that many hours in because of pain. Rest can become even more difficult because a lack of sleep influences both pain levels and the effectiveness of pain medications.

While pain perception varies from person to person, it can also change based on sleep quality and quantity. Researchers have tested the theory that sleep loss affects pain perception in a number of different studies, including one that compared pain sensitivity between a group of people that got nine hours of sleep and another got seven. Technically, both groups got an adequate amount of sleep, yet the group that increased their sleep time showed a 25 percent higher pain tolerance. Other studies have compared pain sensitivity between groups that got half the recommended amount of sleep or got no sleep at all. Every study showed that, in general, as the amount of sleep goes down the body’s sensitivity to pain goes up.

Pain tolerance isn’t the only way that sleep deprivation affects back pain. It also influences the body’s response to pain medication.




A study published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology explored the impact of sleep on the effectiveness of codeine. All participants took codeine but only half got a full night’s rest. Those who didn’t get enough sleep did not tolerate pain as well as those who did. Because lack of sleep increases pain and reduces the effectiveness of pain medications, sleep becomes more than a luxury and enters the realm of being a partner in pain management.

Everything from daytime habits and behaviors to bedroom conditions can influence sleep and, therefore, back pain. To provide the best chance at getting a good night’s rest, the right products and equipment need to be in the bedroom. For example, a mattress that supports your back and preferred sleep style can reduce wakefulness. A dark, quiet bedroom can help keep outside noises and distractions from interfering with sleep.

Behaviors and habits that support good sleep can also become part of reducing back pain. For many people, getting better sleep means developing a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time each morning helps the body correctly time the release of hormones. For those who find it difficult to fall asleep, a bedtime routine can make a big difference. It gives both mind and body a chance to relieve stress while triggering the release of sleep hormones.

Diet can also influence the sleep-wake cycle. High-fat, heavy foods eaten close to bedtime can disrupt digestion and be uncomfortable. Caffeine and other stimulants eaten within four hours of bedtime can block sleep hormones. However, there are foods that promote the production of sleep hormones like dairy products, almonds, and bananas that make good late-night snacks.

Exercise can also affect how well you sleep. Regular activity wears the body out so it’s more tired at night. It also helps with weight management, muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which can help reduce back pain. Those who suffer from back pain should consult a physician to find appropriate exercises for their age, weight, and pain issues.

A focus on high-quality sleep may not eliminate back or neck pain, but it can certainly help bring it to manageable levels and allow pain medications to take full effect.

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Back Pain – Is it a Tumor?

spinal cancer back pain symptomsSpinal cancer is not the typical diagnosis when back pain strikes, but there are some symptoms that are red flags for a tumor or tumors in the spine. Spotting cancer early gives you the best chance of success, but due to the varying symptoms of cancer in the spine, and the relatively frequent occurrence of uncomplicated back pain, many people are not diagnosed until a tumor has already become quite large or metastasised.

If back pain persists, worsens, and is unresponsive to rest and conservative treatment, and is accompanied by the following symptoms, it is definitely time to talk to your physician about tests for cancer. Continue reading “Back Pain – Is it a Tumor?” »

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Nerve Pain and Quantum Theory – How a New Pain Management Protocol Could Revolutionise Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment

peripheral neuropathy and quantum theory for pain reliefWhat could quantum theory have to do with nerve pain? Well, according to a presentation given at the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) 25th Annual Clinical Meeting, quite a lot, actually. Whether this new direction for pain management will end up benefiting those with pain resulting from spinal stenosis remains to be seen, but it sure looks promising as a way of kicking the painkillers. Continue reading “Nerve Pain and Quantum Theory – How a New Pain Management Protocol Could Revolutionise Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment” »

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Do You Need a Lower Epidural Steroid Dose if You Have Diabetes?

epidural steroids and diabetes in spinal stenosisEpidural steroid injections for back pain have long been a popular way of treating spinal stenosis related to inflammation in the lumbar spine. The safety of these injections has, especially in the past couple of years, been called into question numerous times, and one such concern is the documented effect on blood glucose that occurs after epidural steroid injections. Continue reading “Do You Need a Lower Epidural Steroid Dose if You Have Diabetes?” »

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Antidepressants May Increase Your Risk of Spinal Fracture

ssris falls and fracture risk in spinal stenosis elderlyAccording to a new study, hypnotic sleep medications and SSRIs may increase the risk of osteoporotic and hip fractures in older adults. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a popular type of antidepressant and, as back pain is often associated with depression, those with spinal stenosis may be particularly at risk of this complication. Continue reading “Antidepressants May Increase Your Risk of Spinal Fracture” »

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk More than Doubled in Smokers with High Sodium Intake

sodium smoking rheumatoid arthritis riskMany people develop spinal stenosis as a result of osteoarthritis but rheumatoid arthritis can also cause spinal narrowing, trapped nerves and spinal cord compression. Avoiding autoimmune disease is far from easy but new research from Sweden suggests that smokers would do well to avoid eating a diet high in salt if they wish to reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Continue reading “Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk More than Doubled in Smokers with High Sodium Intake” »

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Could Probiotics Help Relieve Arthritis Symptoms Like Back Pain?

gut health back pain probiotics for ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritisThe health of the gut has a profound effect on overall health and well being but you might not have previously connected gut health and arthritis symptoms like back pain. In a new review researchers have looked at how gut microflora’s influence on our immune system may point to a novel way of preventing and treating arthritis. Could popping a probiotic help reduce back pain, with the only side effects being better all-round health? Continue reading “Could Probiotics Help Relieve Arthritis Symptoms Like Back Pain?” »

Low Back Pain Most Common Cause of Disability in the World

low back pain worldwide statisticsLow back pain is already the biggest cause of worldwide disability and with the world’s population getting older there is an increasing need to find better ways to improve back health and prevent pain from conditions such as spinal stenosis. Some 10% of people worldwide complain of low back pain, with those in Western Europe reporting the highest prevalence as here it affects around 15% of people. Regions of North America where average income was high had a relatively low prevalence of low back pain (7.7% for men and women), suggesting that economics influence pain. Continue reading “Low Back Pain Most Common Cause of Disability in the World” »

Back Pain Unaffected by the Weather, New Review Says

weather and back pain caduceus wind vaneIt’s commonly thought that the weather and joint pain are interconnected somehow, with people claiming to be able to predict storms based on their rheumatism. However, despite these beliefs being widespread, a new case-crossover study out of Australia has concluded that lower back pain isn’t affected by wind, rain, humidity or air pressure, so why do such beliefs persist? Continue reading “Back Pain Unaffected by the Weather, New Review Says” »

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Vitamin D Deficiency and Spinal Stenosis – Cause or Effect?

vitamin d back pain cycling exercise

Cycling is often a great way for low back pain sufferers to stay active and soak up some sun!

Make hay while the sun shines, or so the saying goes. Spinal stenosis sufferers might want to consider the alternative phrasing of ‘make vitamin D while the sun shines’ as research suggests that a deficiency of vitamin D is linked to increased pain and worse prognosis for spinal stenosis. Interestingly, however, women who undergo back surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis actually enjoyed increased vitamin D levels after their procedure. What’s the link between vitamin D and back pain? Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Vitamin D Deficiency and Spinal Stenosis – Cause or Effect?” »