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    Renee W. has back pain question

    When back pain affects you or a family member, you might despair of ever getting a good night's sleep. Pain can disturb the sleep your family needs, night after night. But experts say that with proper treatment, the chances are very good that you or your loved one can get relief from back pain and enjoy normal sleep. Below, find out about treatments and lifestyle tips for better sleep.

    Why Sleep Is Important

    The inability to get a good night's sleep hurts -- literally. Chronic back pain prevents you from sleeping well. You can wake up hurting even more.

    What's worse, studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may actually make you more sensitive to pain. It's a vicious cycle. Back pain can make it harder to sleep -- and when you can't sleep, your back pain may be worse.

    Other Causes of Sleep Problems When You Are in Pain

    Anxiety and depression can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, and the consequent sleep loss can lead to worse pain. Anxiety and depression themselves can also increase a person’s sensitivity to pain.

    Some breathing-related sleep disorders are associated with obesity -- and obesity is also linked with back pain. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea interfere with normal sleep patterns, leading to insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality. Sleep apnea can also be caused or exacerbated by narcotic painkillers, which some people are prescribed for severe back pain.

    Limb movement disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, might further disrupt the normal sleep pattern.

    Fibromyalgia can cause pain throughout the body. It's also linked with fatigue, anxiety, and sleep problems.

    Self-medicating with alcohol might numb your back pain and help you fall asleep at first. But it's also likely to wake you up a few hours later, because it interferes with good sleep. In the morning, you're bound to get out of bed tired, cranky, and hurting because the quality of sleep is poor.

    Many prescription medications can impair the quality of your sleep. For instance, some medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, epilepsy, and ADHD may also cause sleep problems. Check with your doctor if you think your medicine may be interfering with your sleep.

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