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Sleep and pain management

Sleep and pain management problems are among the most common complaints in our society, frequently occurring in the same person. The pain of osteoarthritis may interfere with sleep. Conversely, poor sleep may also promote pain and fatigue. Studies have shown that several nights of disturbed sleep in healthy people causes nonspecific generalized muscle aching and fatigue.

We define sleep as the natural periodic suspension of consciousness. The body restores itself during sleep. Sleep is a complex process involving several stages. There are changes in the chemistry and behavior of the body during sleep.

Proper sleep is necessary for the normal function of the body. Moreover, many processes in the body rely on the sleep-wake cycle. These processes are important in fighting infection and healing our body. Sleep disturbances can have significant and serious consequences. You can see how closely sleep and pain management are related.

The circadian rhythm is the built-in cycle of sleep and wake times. Other cyclic changes occur in your body. These include changes in temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, hormone secretions, and lung function.

Your body requires approximately seven to eight hours of sleep daily. Sleeping too little or too much can be harmful to your health. This sleep occurs in cycles that are generally 90 minutes long, with five stages of sleep within each cycle. We divide these stages into two separate states, non-rapid eye movements (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM).

During NREM sleep, body movements occur, but the mind is quiet.

During REM sleep, there is total muscle relaxation, except for bursts of rapid eye movements. Because the brain is active in REM sleep, dreaming occurs in this stage of sleep. REM sleep is deep sleep that is more refreshing. Ideally, 20 to 50 percent of an adult’s sleep should be in REM sleep.

As your night’s sleep continues, the time spent in NREM sleep decreases and the amount of time in REM sleep increases. The last third of the night is mostly REM sleep. We spend less time in REM sleep as we approach age 65 and older.

For more information on this subject, call The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics at 239-596-0100 or visit www.zehrcenter.comThe information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments, or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of a visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read on this topic. 

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