- Changing simple bedtime habits could cure back pain according to study
- Poor rest increases proteins in the blood and sparks inflamatory reaction
- Cutting out stimuli like a smartphone said to help get better night's sleep
A bad night’s sleep is always likely to put you in a foul mood but studies show lack of rest can also leave you plagued with pain.
Now experts believe that changing bedtime habits could be the key to healing a long-standing problem.
A study has found that people who don’t get enough sleep are up to 66 per cent more likely to be plagued with pain.
Poor rest increases levels of proteins in the blood which spark inflammatory reactions in the body.
Academics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim made their discovery after reviewing the health data of thousands of people who were monitored for more than a decade.
Dr Adam Al-Kashi, head of research and education at the charity Back Care, said: ‘Having a bad back is clearly a vicious cycle. The pain can keep people awake at night, which, in turn, gives them pain.
‘In those circumstances, people often can’t work or can develop depression; it can affect every part of a person’s life.
‘Improving sleep quality is perhaps one way to break that cycle.
‘Quite often, people will have a smartphone glued to their hand in bed or under their pillow so they can check their emails and texts 24/7.
‘It would be good practice to cut out that kind of stimulus in the last few hours before lights-out so that the mind is calm and relaxed.
‘Low levels of ambient light can also disrupt sleep so your bedroom should pretty much be in black-out.
‘Studies have shown that having a cold shower can improve sleep quality.
These are all things that people can try.’
Many of us carry on using mobile phones and other gadgets while in bed
The latest report in the European Journal of Public Health examined the cases of more than 27,000 Norwegian men and women.
All were selected because they did not suffer from chronic back, neck or shoulder pain, however, they were categorised according to their sleep habits.
Eleven years later, they were quizzed again to discover if any particular group was more at risk of developing a bad back.
Women who occasionally had trouble sleeping were now 32 per cent more likely to suffer chronic lower back pain than those who always slept soundly.
That figure rose to 66 per cent for those who often tossed and turned into the small hours.
For men, the added risk was 30 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.
Similar patterns were seen for pain in the neck and shoulders with the worst sleepers 53 per cent more likely to suffer among females and 58 per cent among males.
Risk was partly reduced for those who exercised regularly and avoided obesity.
The study states: ‘The findings provide convincing evidence that sleep problems represent an independent risk factor for chronic musculoskeletal pain.
‘A possible mechanism may be that poor sleep induces a state of low-level systemic inflammation that contributes to sensitize the [pain receptor] system.
‘Experimental studies have shown that sleep deprivation induces elevated plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines [proteins used by the immune system].
‘It has been shown that elevated levels after sleep restriction are strongly associated with increased pain ratings in healthy individuals.’
It adds: ‘Given the high proportion of people at risk of chronic pain due to sleep problems, this is an important target group for community-based measures aimed at reducing the incidence of chronic pain in the low back and neck/shoulders.
‘Our results indicate that such measures should include promotion of regular physical exercise and maintenance of normal body weight.’
In 2011, it was estimated that around 7.5 million Britons suffered from chronic back pain and a third of those would never recover.
Four in every five problems are non-specific which means that they cannot be cured by healing an injury.