Studies provide new insights into the role of sleep in chronic pain

Sleeping problems are shown to predict the onset of chronic pain in a 20-year prospective study and linked to chronic pain in adolescents in the Swedish study.


The relationship between chronic pain and sleep is complex, as the consequences of sleep problems can affect the perception of pain and, in turn, pain can interfere with sleep quality. Sleep problems predict the onset of chronic widespread pain (CWP).

Scientists at the EULAR for the first time demonstrates a predictive role of sleep problems for chronic pain. The study also provides insight into the chronic pain and sleep in adolescents.

Scientists studied all four parameters relating to sleep – difficulties initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, early morning waking and non-restorative sleep. They discovered that the parameters predict the onset of CWP after five years in a model adjusted for age, gender, socio-economy and mental health. In addition, all parameters except ‘problems with early awakening’ predicted the onset of CWP at 18 years.

The study included 254 students from a Swedish school who completed questionnaires on chronic pain, sleeping problems, stress, anxiety, and depression. The mean age of participants was 16.1 years (SD 0.6) and two-thirds were girls. CMP† was identified in 9.8% of students with no difference between boys and girls.

The additional investigation demonstrated that revealing each of the four resting issues at gauge versus no sleep problems was altogether linked with CWP at both times focuses utilizing various models balanced for age, gender, socio-economy and also mental well-being, number of pain regions or pain seriousness.

Individuals included in the study had not reported CWP* at baseline or during the previous three years, 1249 entered the five-year and 791 entered the 18-year follow up analysis. Four parameters related to sleep and one parameter related to fatigue (SF-36 vitality scale) were investigated as predictors for CWP.

Julia S. Malmborg, Ph.D. student at The Rydberg Laboratory for Applied Sciences, Halmstad University, Sweden said, “Although the relationship between sleep and pain is complex, our results clearly indicate a strong association which needs to be explored further. As both problems affect the physiological and psychological well-being of sufferers we hope that these results will be used by school health professionals to promote student health.”

The results of two studies presented today at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2018).

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