Crying children, noisy neighbors, a weak bubble – the things that can wake us up at night are numerous. But for some, there is another worrying cause – pain.
Painsomnia is a condition in which people go to bed relatively comfortably, but their pain increases and they wake up while they sleep.
The number of people affected is unclear, but a 2014 study in the Journal of Pain found that up to 88 percent of people with chronic pain experience insomnia, while 50 percent of insomniacs experience chronic pain.
Painsomnia is a condition in which people go to bed relatively comfortably, but while sleeping, their pain increases and wakes them up
And the problem is, it can turn into a vicious circle – because lack of sleep can not only cause depression, anxiety, poor memory and concentration, but also increase sensitivity to pain and increase the likelihood of waking up.
Why is not clear, although one theory suggests that sleep deprivation causes the increased production of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which act directly on nerve cells, making pain worse.
But why does pain build up when we sleep? In fact, there are many reasons why pain can wake us up, explains Dr. Ilan Lieberman, a pain medicine consultant at the Manchester University Hospital Foundation Trust, “From the way we sleep to an underlying health problem.”
Inflammation strikes at night
In some cases, it is the result of the internal clock that not only affects our sleep, but also controls other physical mechanisms, including inflammation.
In certain inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (caused by the body’s immune system attacking the joints), the inflammation works on a clock schedule, explains Dr. Julie Gibbs, chronobiologist at the University of Manchester.
“Ironically, there seems to be more active inflammation when you are resting (that is, while you are sleeping), but it’s not clear why.”
The pain signals that travel between the nerves and the brain overwhelm the brain pathways, which normally reduce or dampen consciousness so we can sleep, and wake us up.
In certain inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (caused by the body’s immune system attacking the joints), the inflammation works on an internal clock schedule, explains Dr. Julie Gibbs, chronobiologist at the University of Manchester
In some cases, it is the result of the internal clock that not only affects our sleep, but controls other body mechanisms, including inflammation
Gout attacks – a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain that is also related to inflammation – are twice as common at night and early in the morning as they are during the day, according to a 2014 study by Harvard Medical School.
One theory here is that a nightly drop in the hormone cortisol is to blame. “High levels of cortisol can suppress inflammation,” explains Dr. Gibbs. Taking an anti-inflammatory drug before bed or right after you wake up can help relieve the pain before it gets worse.
Lying down makes your muscles sore
Just being in bed can encourage pain.
Joint pain can be a persistent cause of nighttime pain, especially if it stems from a pre-existing medical condition, explains Steven Allder, consulting neurologist at Re: Cognition Health Clinic in London, who is himself sometimes aroused by a cartilage pain in his left knee.
“If you have joint pain at night, it may be because the joint is stiff because it doesn’t move. I tore my cartilage from walking too much and the pain woke me up around 4am and I have to take pain medication, ”he says.
“The fact that I am not able to straighten my knee at night because I sleep triggers the pain.”
Sciatica (where the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back to your feet is irritated or compressed) can occur at night when you lie down, this can put pressure on the already irritated nerve and cause sharp pain in your lower back or buttocks and legs the next morning
Tony Kochhar, an orthopedic consultant surgeon at London Bridge Hospital and a professor of exercise science at the University of Greenwich, says hip, shoulder and knee pain often causes a slight throbbing that is relieved by movement.
“During the day you move the affected joint so that it remains flexible,” he says. “But at night the irritated tissue contracts. This increases the pressure in and around the joint, causing pain.
“Sleeping positions can make things worse – you can squeeze or twist on an irritated joint while you sleep, causing pain that can wake you up. That is why shoulder patients sleep by hugging a pillow to take pressure off the shoulder. “
Sciatica (where the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back to your feet is irritated or compressed) can occur at night when you lie down, this can put pressure on the already irritated nerve and cause sharp pain in your lower back or buttocks and legs the next morning. Using ice and anti-inflammatory drugs before bed can help.
Headache early in the morning
Sometimes the pain gets worse at night even if it doesn’t bother us during the day. This is the case with toothache – lying down causes more blood to rush to our head and put pressure on areas in our mouth, says Dr. Charles Ferber, a dentist in London.
A less well understood reason for waking up at night is so-called alarm clock headaches, so called because they occur at the same time – usually between 1 and 3 a.m. – which tend to affect women over 50 more often. These can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours.
While doctors aren’t sure of the cause – one theory suggests it may be linked to the dream phase of sleep – some research suggests that drinking strong caffeine in the evening may help, although again it’s not clear why . If the pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe the drug naproxen.
A less well understood reason for waking up at night is so-called alarm clock headaches, so called because they occur at the same time – usually between 1 and 3 a.m. – which tend to affect women over 50 more often
Cluster headaches are even more painful because they can wake you up at the same time for weeks, says Dr. Andy Dowson, clinical director of the East Kent Headache Service. “It mostly affects men and causes throbbing pain, usually behind one eye.
“Over-the-counter pain relievers are not strong enough, so see your doctor for a more effective drug.”
Nighttime headaches can also be a sign of dehydration because when the tissues surrounding your brain (which is mostly water) shrink, they can put pressure on the brain.
“If nighttime headaches came out of the blue, see your primary care doctor to make sure you don’t have a secondary headache.” [caused by] a major problem like increased pressure in the brain or in the back of the eye, ”adds Dr. All of the above.
In the meantime, a sudden, severe pain in the abdomen that wakes you up at night may mean the gallbladder is inflamed or a gallstone – small stones usually made of cholesterol that form in the gallbladder – may pass as this goes away at night happens, usually several hours after a heavy meal.
New persistent nocturnal pain should be investigated. Short-term safe drugs like paracetamol are good to take at night if you think you know the cause of the pain, ”says Dr. Lieberman. “If you wake up every night you need a diagnosis. So start with your GP. ‘
Everyday activities that increase your happiness. This week: laugh more
Laughter is known to make us feel good – that’s because it triggers the release of mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2017.
“There are three possible mechanisms that could all be involved,” explains Professor Robin Dunbar, Oxford University psychologist and one of the authors.
Laughter can cause the skin to move over the chest wall, which causes neurons in the hair follicles to trigger the release of endorphins. The inner ear is full of these neurons that can be stimulated by moving our head. Finally, emptying your lungs while laughing can activate the endorphin system.
To maximize endorphin release, you need to get some real belly laugh – if possible, watch a comedy with friends. “The likelihood of laughing at a comedy video is five to 30 times higher when you watch it with others,” says Professor Dunbar.
According to Imperial College London, a new vaccination could make it easier for women to conceive. The vaccine contains a drug that increases the production of the hormone kisspeptin, which stimulates other reproductive hormones. The vaccination kept these hormones elevated four times longer than kisspeptin alone, potentially extending the conception window.
Only a third of us eat our recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Here nutritionist Angela Dowden shows you how to make a delicious meal.
What to Eat: Butternut Squash Noodles – you can make your own like zucchini – (one and a half servings) with sausage, tomato and a vegetable sauce (two and a half servings) and a side dish of carrot and apple coleslaw (one serving) = five servings.
Here’s how it works: Skin four sausages for two people and roast the meat for five to ten minutes; put aside. Fry half a chopped onion, a chopped paprika, half a chopped zucchini and 160 g sliced mushrooms in the fat.
Add a can of tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and season, then simmer for ten minutes. Add the sausage, heat and serve on 300 g cooked butternut squash noodles. Serve with grated apple and carrot salad with mayo.