Clinical experiences as well as specific investigations show that pain and sleep disturbances are closely correlated. The aims of this review are first to describe sleep disturbances related to painful medical diseases and analgesics and secondly to propose management possibilities for these sleep disturbances.
The viewpoints presented were based mainly on objective rest activity and sleep studies using actigraphy and polysomnography.
Polysomnographic and actigraphic studies have described significant sleep disturbances in patients suffering from different pain disorders. These disturbances are: reduced sleep efficiency and altered sleep architecture characterized by increased wakefulness and stage 1 non-rapid eye movement sleep, associated with diminished slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. Sleep disturbances may be related to pain and to the analgesic or sedative medications administered.
If many factors, including pain, disease process per se, as well as medication, could disturb sleep, sleep disturbances may also adversely affect the natural course of the painful disease. Improving sleep quantity and quality in patients with painful disorders may break this vicious circle and as consequence enhance the patients' overall health and quality of life.