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.

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Painsomnia refers to sleeping difficulties due to pain. While it is not an official medical term it relates to insomnia, a sleeping disorder.

Up to 80% of people with chronic pain may experience insomnia.

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

Learn more about insomnia here.

Insomnia is a sleep condition that leads to:

  • 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 manage their pain. However, painsomnia can form a vicious circle. The person cannot sleep because of the pain and cannot manage it effectively because they are not getting enough sleep.

Learn more about sleep in our dedicated hub here.

Researchers are not clear on why pain can disrupt sleep. However, they believe pain might disrupt how the brain sends messages to the rest of the body.

Painsomnia is not a symptom of one particular condition. Common causes include:


Arthritis refers to disease and pain in the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and infective arthritis.

Studies show that up to 80% of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping.

Learn more about arthritis in our dedicated hub here.


MS is a long-term neurological condition. The symptoms are different for everyone, but some of the most common are:

  • 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

Around 40% of people with MS may have insomnia. It can be due to pain or other MS symptoms, such as fatigue or depression.

Learn more about MS in our dedicated hub here.

Chronic pain syndrome

Doctors sometimes call this condition chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP). It means ongoing pain that does not go away.

Common causes include:

Many people with chronic pain experience sleep disturbances.

Learn more about chronic pain syndrome here.


Around 2% of the adult population in the United States have fibromyalgia. It causes pain all over the body. People with the condition often have atypical pain perception processing. That means they can be more sensitive to pain than people without the condition.

Nearly 50% of people with fibromyalgia also have insomnia.

Learn more about fibromyalgia here.

Doctors will usually recommend treating the underlying condition first. They may also suggest lifestyle and behavioral changes, such as cutting down on coffee.

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 first-line treatment option. This is a 6–8 week treatment plan, where a person learns to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.

Sometimes, the person’s doctor may recommend medicines to help with insomnia. Common choices include:

  • zolpidem
  • zopiclone
  • zaleplon

Learn about other sleep medications here.

Insomnia medication effects

However, it is worth noting that some insomnia drugs have side effects. These include:

  • cognitive impairment
  • difficulty thinking
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • quickly building resistance to the drugs, meaning they can stop working.

Learn more about treating insomnia.

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.