National Geographic, one of my favourite magazines, has just published an interesting article on sleep. While we sleep, our mind goes on an amazing journey by Michael Finkel. Here is the link:

This article describes the many ways that lack of sleep can hurt your body and mind.

Below are some of my own observations from the thousands of people with long-term pain I have treated over the past 30 years.

Sleep deprivation, prolonged sleep loss, is especially important for people with painful injuries and illnesses. It can literally magnify the intensity of the pain you experience. And, it can do this in several ways.

  1. Constant pain is a big drain on your energy. Sleep is necessary to restore your energy. When both constant pain and sleep loss occur, you can quickly become depleted – with little energy left to go about your daily life.

2. When this happens, your capacity to tolerate, or endure, the pain you experience, gets depleted. You can start to have less patience, not only for your pain, but for almost everything else in your life. Your family and  friends may notice you becoming irritated with them, even when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Little things start to really bother you. Your pain really starts to  take over.

3. Then, you become more at risk for developing depression, fibromyalgia and memory problems. Even your immune system can become compromised. Now, you have many factors that all weaken you ability to cope with the pain you experience.

4. All of these factors can worsen the pain you experience. In turn, with higher pain levels, your sleep may deteriorate even further. This is a vicious cycle. It is one of the reasons that long-term pain can be so hard to treat. And, one reason why long-term or chronic pain can be so limiting or disabling.

The easiest way to understand how sleep deprivation works is by thinking of it as sleep debt, similar to credit card debt. If you don’t pay off your debt, it grows. Then, you may have interest to pay. Your debt will grow larger, with interest added – and, so will the effect on you,  your pain and your life.

I would love to help you get your sleep back on track. It is not easy to do. But, future posts will give you some of my best ideas. Please keep checking in.

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Thank you for reading. Thank you to Luis Galvez (photo above) and Rachel Walker (image below), both from Unsplash, for your creative work. And, please feel free to steal, share or join our growing list of subscribers.