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Survey: Pain proves problematic when it comes to sleeping habits


WASHINGTON — Pain is proving to be a significant factor when it comes to sleeping patterns of Americans, according to a new poll by the National Sleep Foundation. Those suffering with chronic pain reported an average 42 minute sleep debt, whereas Americans who have experienced acute pain within the past week report a deficit of 14 minutes.


The foundation said that there's not overall sleep debt for those without pain, but "significant" numbers within this group do have problems. One-in-3 of those without pain don't get the sleep they need or have had trouble falling or staying asleep in the past week. These problems escalate among indivduals sufering from chronic or acute pain.


“Taking control of your sleep by being motivated, setting a routine bedtime and creating a supportive sleep environment are relevant even for those with pain,” said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep is a key marker of health, and good sleep habits are critical for improving the quality of life of those living with chronic or acute pain.”


People with pain also feel less control over their sleep, the foundation said. They may worry about how the lack of sleep affects their health. This group is also more likely to say environmental factors — noise, light, temperature — make it difficult to sleep. The survey showed that chronic pain is especially problematic: Nearly 1-in-4 people with chronic pain (23%) said they've been diagnosed with a sleep disorder by a physician, compared with 6% of all others. 


“Clinicians and pain sufferers know that pain and sleep problems present together and aggravate each other. This poll confirms the relationship between pain and sleep. Fortunately, it also shows that simple steps to improving sleep can be beneficial,” said Dr. Timothy Roehrs, PhD, Henry Ford Hospital. 


The quality of sleep and duration are both important factors, representing indicators of a person's overall health and quality of life, according to Kristen Knutson, PhD, the National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll scholar.


“Extremely long or short sleep durations are associated with more specific conditions, but for many people who are close to getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, getting just 15 to 30 minutes more sleep a night could make difference in how they feel,” Knutson said. “Understanding the importance of sleep and taking a proactive approach to bed times can help everyone improve their sleep, even people with pain."


The complete findings of the 2015 survey can be downloaded at

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