The mind over matter theory might have more bearing than you think, and dwelling on your pain could be doing you more harm than good. Some interesting new research has shown that people who think about their pain less, are less likely to feel it at all. This following a study that was conducted on participants with chronic face and jaw pain.
For the study, researchers recruited 214 people with myofascial temporomandibular disorder, which is serious facial and jaw pain and many healthcare practitioners believe the ailment to be stress-related in nature. The average participant was a white female, with an average age of 34 years, and underwent a dental exam to confirm the ailment, then filled out questionnaires assessing a number of criteria. The criteria included sleep quality, depression, pain levels and emotional responses to pain.
They were then asked to admit whether or not they have a habit of blowing their pain levels out of proportion. Researchers found a direct correlation between negative thinking about pain and poor sleep, as well as with worse pain in the TMD patients.
Pain Levels and the Effect on Sleep
Leader of the study that was published in the journal Pain, Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., says, “We have found that people who ruminate about their pain and have more negative thoughts about their pain don’t sleep as well, and the result is they feel more pain,” “If cognitive behavioral therapy can help people change the way they think about their pain, they might end that vicious cycle and feel better without sleeping pills or pain medicine.”
Why Pain and Sleep are Connected
The study concluded that one of the major neurological pathways linking thoughts about pain to increased pain levels through lack of sleep. What is also interesting to note is that 80 percent of people with chronic or sharp pain experience poor quality of sleep, and this isn’t the first study of its kind. There has been previous research showing that people who don’t follow a regular sleep pattern are much more sensitive to pain. It is also known, he says, that those who focus frequently on their pain and think more negatively about their pain report more intense pain levels.
Any pain can interfere with sleep. But research shows that some of the most common types of pain that can influence poor sleep are:
Headaches and Migraines
Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
Acute injuries, surgery, and more serious diseases can also cause sharp pain and sleeplessness, so it is important to see your healthcare practitioner if you are not only experiencing serious or sharp pain, but have a lack of sleep because of it that goes on for an extended period of time.