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Painsomnia : Understanding the Link Between Pain and Sleep Issues

What is Painsomnia?

Painsomnia is a term that is used to describe the sleeping issues that a person experiences due to physical pain. There are a few conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, and neuropathic pain, which are the causes of continuous pain experienced by people.(1) Sometimes, the pain can be so intense that a person may find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or have a restful sleep.

What is Painsomnia?

Good quality sleep is important to rest and heal the body and to help in healing from chronic illness.

Pain is an unpleasant sensation experienced by a person that alerts the body of some potential harm. It can be acute which is sudden and might go away with treatment or may be chronic which is long-lasting.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects a person’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep or fall back asleep after waking up. About 80 percent of people with pain are known to suffer from insomnia.(2)

Signs of Good Quality Sleep

There are several signs that may indicate that a person is getting a good night sleep. These include:

  • Waking up feeling fresh
  • Easily falling asleep i.e., within 30 minutes of getting in bed
  • Not waking up frequently at night
  • There is no daytime fatigue
  • A person with good sleep has good memory and concentration
  • Not needing an alarm clock to wake up
  • Good quality sleep is free from nightmares or unpleasant dreams

Causes of Painsomnia

Discomfort can be a reason why pain disrupts sleep. It is also believed that pain affects how the brain sends signals to the rest of the body.(3)

Painsomnia can be a symptom of many conditions as follows.

Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic pain syndrome includes chronic pain that does not go away. The causes of chronic pain syndrome include:(4)

  • Physical trauma
  • Psychological trauma
  • Infections like Epstein Barr virus
  • Underlying health conditions including sickle cells anemia

Sleep disturbance is experienced by many people with pain syndrome.


Arthritis is a disease of the joint that can be the reason for pain. It is of different types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infective arthritis.

It is observed that 80% of people with arthritis have difficulty sleeping.(5)

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that may cause the following symptoms:

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary in people.

40% of people with multiple sclerosis may have insomnia, which may be due to fatigue, anxiety, depression, and risk of relapse.(6)


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain in the muscle, tendons, and ligaments. It leads to fatigue sleep disturbance and tender points in specific areas of the body. It is observed 2% of people in the United States have fibromyalgia.(7) 50% of people with fibromyalgia have insomnia.(8)

Symptoms of Painsomnia

Painsomnia is the term that described difficulty in sleeping due to pain. The symptoms experienced by people with painsomnia are as follows:

  • Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up frequently at night
  • Tossing and turning restlessly
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Feeling tired or fatigued during the day
  • Decreased ability to concentrate

Most of the symptoms are due to sleeping very less. It is important to address painsomnia as sleep deprivation for a long time can lead to other symptoms and health problems.

Having good quality sleep can be helpful for people in managing pain and this can further help in managing painsomnia symptoms. In short, pain and good quality sleep are related to each other. Treating painsomnia involves treating both conditions to interrupt this vicious cycle.

Treatment of Painsomnia

Treating painsomnia involves a combination of approaches that address the underlying pain condition and sleep disturbance.

Some of the common treatments for painsomnia include:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy helps change negative thought patterns and behavior related to chronic pain and sleep. It is a 6-8 week treatment plan that makes a person learn how to fall asleep faster and stay asleep.(10)


The medications for painsomnia mostly include over-the-counter and prescription pain medications. These may include Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. Doctors also prescribe prescription medication to improve sleep to manage painsomnia.

Tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants have been found to be effective in treating chronic pain and insomnia.(9)

Lifestyle Changes

There are certain lifestyle changes that can be helpful in getting proper sleep. These include:

  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Reducing intake of caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
  • Having a relaxing bedtime routine

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques including deep breathing, meditation and yoga can be helpful in reducing and improving sleep quality.

To treat painsomnia it is important to work with a doctor closely, to determine the most effective treatment plan. Some patients might need a combination of treatments to find which one works the best for them.

Pain Management Techniques

Therapies including physical therapy, acupuncture therapy, chiropractic therapy and massage therapy can be helpful in alleviating pain and thereby improving the sleep affected by it.


Painsomnia is a condition that refers to difficulty in falling or staying asleep due to chronic pain. It is commonly seen occurring in people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. The treatment of painsomnia involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. A doctor can help in finding out the accurate treatment plan.

Addressing painsomnia can help in dealing with both pain and insomnia symptoms and can be helpful in improving the quality of life.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 16, 2023

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