Research Suggests Sleep Therapy Could Help with Chronic Pain
Researchers from Warwick University say that people who suffer with chronic pain could benefit from therapy to help them sleep better. Their findings were gleaned from a meta-analysis which has been published in the journal Sleep.
The researchers examined 72 studies, which included a total of 1,066 patients aged 45 to 61 who suffered from insomnia and pain caused by a variety of ailments, including cancer, arthritis and severe headaches. They looked at the range of treatments and intervention strategies which were used to combat these problems.
The results showed that those whose insomnia was tackled with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) experienced a mild to moderate decrease in pain immediately after therapy. Improved sleep was also associated with a decreased risk of depression following treatment and up to 12 months later.
“Poor sleep is a potential cause of ill health and previous studies suggest it can lead to obesity, diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease – even death,” says study leader Dr Nicole Tang. “Insomnia can also increase the risk of depression, anxiety and substance misuse. It is also a major problem for those suffering pain that lasts longer than three to six months, and that is why we looked at this group.”
The study’s findings highlight the value of treating insomnia which exists with chronic pain. Most importantly, CBT – the treatment found to be most effective – can safely be used for as long as necessary.
“This study is particularly important because the use of drugs to treat insomnia is not recommended over a long period of time, therefore the condition needs to be addressed using a non-pharmacological treatment,” says Dr Tang. “We believe that our results will be of particular interest to primary care physicians and allied health professionals who are taking up an increasingly important role in preventing and managing long-term conditions.”