Poll: Pain is the Biggest Sleep Problem

A new poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) finds that pain is the biggest factor that’s keeping Americans from getting the amount of sleep they want.

This week, March 2-6, is 2015 National Sleep Awareness Week.  Each year, the NSF publishes its Sleep in America poll during this week.  This year’s survey focuses on pain, which the survey found is a huge problem.

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should get, and the amount of sleep you actually get.  According to the NSF poll, those with chronic pain have an average of 42 minutes of sleep debt per week.  Meanwhile, those who have suffered from acute pain in the last week report 14 minutes per week.  Those who reported no pain also had no sleep debt.

In addition to sleep debt, pain is also taking a toll on the quality of sleep people are getting.  Well over half (65%) of those who reported no said their sleep quality was good or very good.  Only 22% of those with severe or very severe pain could say the same.

“Taking control of your sleep by being motivated, setting a routine bedtime and creating a supportive sleep environment are relevant even for those with pain,” said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep is a key marker of health, and good sleep habits are critical for improving the quality of life of those living with chronic or acute pain.”

Those with acute or chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems impact their daily lives. Among people who’ve had sleep difficulties in the past week, more than four in 10 of those with chronic pain say those difficulties interfered with their work. That drops to 17 percent of those without pain. People with pain are also far more apt than others to report that lack of sleep interferes with their mood, activities, relationships and enjoyment of life overall.  Additionally, nearly a quarter of those with chronic pain say they’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

The good news is that if you take steps to make sleep a priority, you can expect a better night’s sleep.  Poll respondents who said they were very or extremely motivated to get enough sleep reported sleeping 36 more minutes per night across the week compared with others. Even among those with pain, a higher motivation to get sleep was associated with longer sleep duration and better sleep quality.

Source: National Sleep Foundation