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Pain is an overlooked cause of sleep disorders

Dr. Holly Phillips joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss why pain may be an overlooked source of sleep disorders
Night pain may be linked to sleep disorder, study shows 03:19

In this modern world, there are many barriers that prevent someone from getting a full night of restful sleep. Stress, poor diet and caffeine consumption all are known to interfere. But there's one problem that's frequently overlooked.

Pain -- both chronic and acute -- affects half of all Americans at some point in life, and it is a common source of sleep disorders, according to a new national survey from the National Sleep Foundation. According to the report, approximately 21 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain and 36 percent suffer from acute pain.

The National Sleep Foundation surveyed 1,000 people about their sleep habits, overall health and pain levels. The researchers found that people who had chronic pain ended up with a 42 minute sleep deficit a week and people who had acute pain ended up with a 14 minute sleep debt.

"This is really impactful though because 57 percent of Americans reported having either acute or chronic pain in the week of the survey; that's more people in pain than not," CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told "CBS This Morning."

Many people with this problem turned to pain medications in an effort to attain a night of shuteye but these drugs tend to do more harm than good.

"It's sort of counterintuitive; pain medications make us you think you're getting better sleep," said Phillips. "But actually, pain medications change how our sleep cycles go, so you might not spend as much time in deep sleep -- the truly refreshing sleep -- and you may spend more time in light sleep or REM sleep."

"Fatigue is only one sign of sleep disorders; there are others that we can't pick up on," said Phillips. "They're changes in our mood, changes in our acuity, changes in our memory and risks for illnesses. So just because you feel fine doesn't mean you're getting enough sleep."

It's important to address factors in one's waking life that impact sleep hygiene. People who are chronically sleep-deprived should abstain from alcohol and caffeine, get more exercise, practice relaxation techniques, eat a healthful diet and avoid television and other blue light-emitting devices at least two hours before bedtime.

"Try to cut down on things that interfere with sleep and just scheduling it," said Phillips. "Many times we'll schedule meetings, we'll schedule school pick up. But we won't schedule our 7 to 9 hours of sleep and cancel things that interfere with it."

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