Night Pain & Poor Sleep


As the mother of a small child, lack of sleep is not unfamiliar to me but there are many other reasons that poor sleep may occur. Occasional lack of sleep or late night is fine. However, when it occurs on a regular basis, it can lead to health problems.

When your brain is overtired, it tries to gain energy from food. This increases the production of hunger hormone in the gut- ghrelin (or gremlin as we like to call it!).  Leptin is another hormone which tells us when we are full. If this process is disrupted due to over tiredness we tend to over eat sugary and fatty foods which are often craved, resulting in unhealthy weight gain.                                                                     

The body’s response to insulin can be reduced by 30% after just 4 days of limited sleep (4.5 hours) and in some cases, can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Inhibitions are reduced when sleep deprived which may mean ranting at a co-worker or lashing out at a partner, not just not having the ability to say no to food. Emotions can be out of control in a positive as well as negative way. Anxiety, sadness and anger as well as hyper and slap happy.

Sleep helps to keep the brain clear of toxins so after lack of sleep, memories are more difficult to make. Poor sleep hinders your ability to make quick decisions which affects time management and problem solving. This can also influence motor control which makes accidents more likely- 2.5% of fatal car accidents and 10% of all other motor accidents are due to driving whist drowsy. Micro-sleeps may occur- sleeping for a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds.

Your immune system is compromised when sleep deprived. Studies found that participants who had less than 7 hours sleep per night were three times as likely to get a cold as those who get more than 8 hours per night. When you sleep, your body produces cytokines (proteins that help fight off infections and inflammation). So our body repairs overnight and if we don't sleep well this process does not work as well leading to more muscular, joint and spine pain.

Sleep can also affect eyesight. When we are tired, the ciliary muscle gets fatigued, controlling focus as well as the motor function (extra ocular muscles) which may affect tracking of the eyes and the ability to work together resulting in double vision. Most people who have this naturally can compensate for it but with lack of sleep, this gets much more difficult.

Importantly, for us  as osteopaths, sleep deprivation can be associated with an increase in pain perception. Our pain and aches from muscles joints tendon and ligaments increase. It is therefore a vital element to consider and work upon improving for all our patients.

There is more great advice to be found on these two NHS links;

Trouble Sleeping?

How to get to Sleep

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