A University of Warwick study shows that people with chronic pain who believe they won’t be able to sleep are more likely to suffer from insomnia, which may cause worse pain.
Esther Afolalu and colleagues from the Sleep and Pain Lab in the Department of Psychology created a scale to measure beliefs about sleep and pain in chronic pain patients, alongside their quality of sleep. According to the researchers, this is the first scale to combine both pain and sleep and explore the cycle between sleep and pain problems.
They say that conditions like back pain, fibromyalgia, and arthritis are linked with negative thoughts about insomnia and pain, and this may be managed by cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
The study evaluated the psychometric and functional properties of a 10-item Pain-Related Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep (PBAS) scale. The PBAS scale was administered to four clinical samples of chronic pain patients who also had insomnia. One examined the scale’s psychometric properties (n=137), one examined the test-retest reliability (n=26, one examined the sensitivity to treatment (n=20) and the fourth examined generalizability (n=62). All study participants completed the PBAS with validated measures of pain interference, insomnia severity, and cognitive-behavioral processes hypothesized to underpin insomnia.
The results of their study show that people who believe they won’t be able to sleep as a result of their pain are more likely to suffer from insomnia, which results in more pain. The scale they developed enabled researchers to predict patients’ level of insomnia and pain.