If you suffer from chronic pain, and have not seen a pain specialist yet, do it for your spouse; they could be suffering too. Your chronic pain could be affecting how well your spouse sleeps at night, according to a small new study.
A study published in the journal PAIN shows that spouses are more likely to report having bad sleep and feeling unrefreshed in the morning if their partners suffered from a lot of pain at the end of the previous day.
Plus, researchers found an association between the closeness of the spousal relationship, and a spouse's reporting of poor sleep in response to the other person's pain.
"Our findings suggest that assessing the extent to which partners are closely involved in each other's lives would help to identify spouses who are especially at risk for being affected by patient symptoms and in need of strategies for maintaining their own health and well-being," study researcher Lynn M. Martire, Ph.D., of Penn State University, said.
The study included 145 couples ages 50 and older. The couples kept logs of pain levels, sleep quality and feelings of being refreshed.
"Compromised sleep caused by exposure to a loved one's suffering may be one pathway to spousal caregivers' increased risk for health problems, including cardiovascular disease," Martire said. "In developing behavioral couple-oriented interventions for pain, it is important to identify the couples in which the spouse is most affected by patient suffering."
Sleep problems aren't just a problem for the spouse of a person with chronic pain -- research shows that the sufferer often suffers from bad sleep too. It has been reported that as many as 50% to 90% of people with chronic pain have bad sleep. And sleep is more likely to be disturbed when pain isn't consistent.