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Medical News & Perspectives
February 24, 1999

Chronic Pain Linked With Poor Sleep; Exploration of Causes and Treatment

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JAMA. 1999;281(8):691-692. doi:10.1001/jama.281.8.691-JMN0224-2-1

Atlanta—Shakespeare called sleep "Nature's soft nurse." But this source of comfort may be merely the stuff of dreams to people with cancer, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses, said speakers at a symposium here last month (see preceding story).

Most epidemiologic data on the impact of pain on sleep is based on self-report, said Donald Bliwise, PhD, who heads Emory University's sleep disorders center. One fourth of a random sample of US adults surveyed for the National Sleep Foundation by the Gallup Organization reported having pain that disrupted their sleep 10 or more nights per month, with back pain and headaches the most common complaints. Most averaged 5 or fewer hours of sleep on nights with pain, and about half reported diminished energy the next day (Adult Public's Experiences With Nighttime Pain.Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation; 1996).

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