If you’ve been having trouble sleeping for a long time, you’ve probably tried all kind of tricks, pills and other gimmicks to fix this problem.
And with every method that fails, you probably grow more and more anxious about it.
After all, isn’t good sleep important to your health?
And don’t sleepless night ruin your next day?
Actually, this may be the misconceptions that are actually keeping you up. Especially if you are also suffering chronic pain. But there is an unexpected twist to this.
Researchers from the University of Warwick have just published a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that explains how negative beliefs about sleep can ruin your ability to sleep.
The scientists were motivated by the fact that they could not find a reliable test to measure people’s beliefs about the relationship between insomnia and pain. They then invented their own questionnaire to do so.
They recruited people who suffered from both chronic pain and insomnia and gave them a collection of questionnaires to complete.
– The first questionnaire tested participants’ pain-related beliefs and attitudes about sleep,
– The second measured the severity of their insomnia,
– The third tested their dysfunctional beliefs about sleep,
– The fourth evaluated the level of their anxiety and preoccupation with sleep,
– The fifth tested the extent to which pain interfered with their lives.
All these questionnaires told a consistent story.
The more people in chronic pain worried about their ability to sleep and believed that the pain would prevent them from sleeping well, the worse they slept, and the worse they slept, the more they struggled to cope with their pain.
As such, negative beliefs about the relationship between pain and sleep kick off a vicious cycle in which chronic pain and insomnia exacerbate each other.
The British researchers took it one step further, giving their participants some cognitive behavioral therapy for pain and insomnia. They wanted to find out whether tackling people’s negative beliefs about sleep and pain would break this destructive cycle.
The point of cognitive behavioral therapy is to identify those of your negative beliefs that adversely affect your life and to replace them with new beliefs that will allow you to function better.
After the therapy, the study participants held more positive beliefs about the relationship between sleep and pain than before, slept better, and coped better with their pain.
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