5 Strategies to Improve Your Sleep When Pain Interferes

Giving you options to personalize your sleep game plan to reduce pain

Zachary Walston, PT, DPT, OCS
Runner's Life


Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Most people understand that sleep is important for health and wellness. What is often ignored is how important sleep is for pain and recovery from injury.

As a physical therapist, I often work with patients to improve their sleep habits. People often associate sleep with physical and mental performance, but sleep also plays a critical role in pain, immunity, and physical recovery. Stress, non-restorative sleep, and physical inactivity are risk factors for developing chronic pain in young adults according to a study in PLOS One.

The same journal provides research showing a single night of good sleep leads to a spontaneous increase in the physical activity levels of people suffering from chronic pain. This is likely linked to anti-inflammatory effects, which can reduce pain sensitivity and severity.

OK great, but what about the action items? How do you achieve 7–9 hours of high-quality sleep when dealing with pain?

A recent study in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy reviewed the current body of evidence to provide key lifestyle interventions. The paper focuses on individuals with chronic pain but the strategies apply to everyone.