Some people who experience chronic pain also experience insomnia. Some people call this painsomnia, but this is not a medical term.
Many people with chronic pain have difficulty sleeping.
Health conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic pain syndrome, or fibromyalgia can all cause chronic pain. Sometimes, the pain can stop people from falling asleep or wake them up once they do.
The term “painsomnia” describes people living with pain and sleep issues due to chronic conditions and is a popular term on social media.
This article will explain what painsomnia is, what causes it, and how doctors might treat it. It also offers tips on how to manage painsomnia.
Painsomnia refers to sleeping difficulties due to pain. While it is not an official medical term it relates to insomnia, a sleeping disorder.
People may use the term “painsomnia” to describe how they feel. Doctors might call it:
- pain-related sleep disorder
- sleep disturbances in chronic pain
- disease-related sleep disturbance
- disease-related sleep deprivation
Insomnia is a sleep condition
- difficulty falling asleep
- difficulty staying asleep
- difficulty getting good quality sleep
Pain can play a role in insomnia. For example, people may find the pain stops them from falling asleep and may wake them up throughout the night.
It is worth noting that good quality sleep can help people
Researchers are not clear on why pain can disrupt sleep. However, they believe pain
Painsomnia is not a symptom of one particular condition. Common causes include:
Studies show that up to 80% of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping.
- fatigue, or feeling extremely tired
- walking difficulties
- numbness or tingling in the face, body, or limbs
- spasticity, or stiffness and muscle spasms
- depression and anxiety
Chronic pain syndrome
Doctors sometimes call this condition chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP). It means ongoing pain that does not go away.
- physical trauma, such as a car accident
- psychological trauma, such as the death of a loved one
- infection, for example, with the Epstein Barr virus (EBV)
- an underlying health condition, such as sickle cell anemia or an autoimmune disease
Doctors will usually recommend treating the underlying condition first. They may also suggest
Having good sleep hygiene can be beneficial. That means:
- sticking to a regular bedtime
- getting up at the same time every day
- only using the bed for sleep and sex
- keeping the bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature
- having a supportive mattress
- having cozy sheets
Cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia (CBT-i) is typically the
Sometimes, the person’s doctor may recommend medicines to help with insomnia. Common choices include:
Insomnia medication effects
However, it is worth noting that some insomnia drugs have side effects. These include:
- cognitive impairment
- difficulty thinking
- quickly building resistance to the drugs, meaning they can stop working.
There are things people can do to live better with painsomnia. These include:
- speaking to their doctor about the problem
- keeping a regular sleeping schedule, even at the weekends
- keeping a sleep diary to spot patterns, such as how exercise or daytime naps impact nightly sleep
- keeping active
- avoiding exercise in the 4–6 hours before bedtime, as it can increase adrenaline levels and make it more difficult to fall asleep
- not looking at a cell phone, tablet, or computer before bedtime
- avoiding coffee
- avoiding alcohol
- stopping smoking
Stress can also contribute to sleep difficulties. To help ease stress, people can try the following:
- relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga
- talking with trusted friends or family members about their worries and concerns
Having a calming pre-bed ritual, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book, can also help.
Learn more about the links between stress and sleep here.
Painsomnia is not a medical term. People have started using it online to refer to sleeping difficulties linked to having chronic pain. Conditions such as arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain syndrome can all disrupt sleep.
Anyone who experiences painsomnia should speak with their doctor. They may recommend behavioral changes. Sometimes, they may suggest medication, but it is worth noting that these can sometimes cause side effects.
People can try many things at home to help with sleeping problems. These include avoiding caffeine and alcohol and practicing good sleep hygiene.