In the United States pain is a big sleep interrupter. According to the National Sleep Foundation over half of us have experienced pain in the last week, and while many of us are only experiencing the acute pain that comes from an injury or illness, a large portion of us are actually suffering from something much more serious: chronic pain.
Debilitating in many ways, chronic pain has a huge impact on our sleep, creating on average about 46 minutes of sleep debt per day. That’s the equivalent of almost six hours per week!
Chronic pain is generally defined as any pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks. Unlike acute pain, which is considered a normal response to an injury or illness, chronic pain is just there. Although, like acute pain, it may arise as the result of illness or injury, chronic pain persists over time as a signal from the body that doesn’t have an apparent source or cure. Other symptoms such as fatigue, decreased appetite, mood changes, and of course, sleep disturbance, often accompany chronic pain, creating a severe impact on quality of life.
Common causes of chronic pain.
Chronic pain can have a variety of causes, some of them even unknown. Here are some of the most common.
Arthritis - Arthritis sufferers can experience both acute and chronic pain. “If inflammation in the joints continues and is not controlled, individuals can continue to experience pain, from the inflammation itself, the damage it’s causing or both,” explains Yvonne C. Lee, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia is a disease in which individuals experience widespread pain and tenderness throughout the entire body. Common symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and stiffness, in addition to depression, migraines, and a wide range of other reported symptoms.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) - Named for the joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, TMD (also known as TMJ) occurs when this joint is inflamed. It’s caused by a variety of issues, including injury and grinding your teeth. Symptoms include neck pain, headache, toothaches, dizziness, and ringing in the ear.
Allergies - The 5th most common chronic disease in the United States, allergies affect many of us without us even knowing it. They may be caused by our environments, food, drugs, or chemicals, and they can affect our bodies in ways we don’t understand.
While amazing sleep may not have the power to completely cure chronic pain and illness, it does have the ability to provide some degree of healing and restoration for the body, mind, and soul. “Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior,” claims the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association, and healthy sleep helps the brain form new pathways and prepare for learning. And when it comes to physical health, healthy sleep is key for a strong and healthy immune system, among other things.
Deep, restful sleep is an important part of pain management. According to an article by Western Australia’s Department of Health, sleep and pain are linked since poor sleep can make pain symptoms worse. Although improving sleep may seem a challenging goal for those with chronic pain, sleep environment can still make a big difference. And that’s why using quality, 100% organic materials is beneficial.
When trying to improve your sleep, a great first step is to focus on improving your sleep environment. Not all mattresses are created equal — some mattresses use synthetic materials and chemicals that can actually be harmful. At the same time, mattresses made from natural and organic materials can actually bring helpful benefits to users.
Organic latex in its raw form is a milky substance from the Hevea rubber tree that flows in ducts just outside of where the sap runs. The tapper harvests latex by scoring the bark of the tree with a knife just deep enough to reach the latex ducts. The dripping latex is collected and mixed with:
With its natural elasticity, latex supports and conforms to the geography of the entire body, easing pressure on hips and shoulders while also supporting the small of the back and the waist. For those who suffer from chronic pain, this support especially in the joint areas can make all the difference in a good night’s sleep.
In addition to being supportive, 100% organic latex is also hypoallergenic and mold-resistant. If you suffer from pain or discomfort as a result of chemical sensitivities or mold allergies, organic latex could be the perfect solution.
100% organic wool is an almost magical natural fiber. It possesses many positive qualities, from regulating temperature to acting as a natural flame retardant. Its resiliency as a fiber makes it extremely supportive, filling in the curves of the body and cradling you as you sleep. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from back or hip pain, because no one part of the body is left feeling the pressure.
With naturally coarse fibers, wool is breathable enough to allow air flow to circulate. Because it keeps joints from heating up while at the same time supporting the body, wool relieves the inflammation and stress of arthritis. People who suffer from fibromyalgia also sleep better on wool because it reduces and relieves pain felt at pressure points, which makes deep sleep achievable. Some studies have even shown that premature babies thrive better in incubators lined with wool. We've seen people greatly benefit from our Deluxe Organic Wool Topper, in particular.
Another hypoallergenic natural fiber, organic cotton is one of the most benign types of materials you can have in your home. But in addition to being clean and safe for sensitive individuals, it also provides a supportive layer when added to a mattress.
Over time, the cotton compresses minimally. This means that an organic cotton futon or shikibuton will keep its form instead of compacting down overnight as would beds made with materials such as down or polyfiber. Minimal compression keeps the back in an elevated and straight position, reducing tension and strain on the spine and easing back pain and aching.
Sleep is a vital life function not only for those suffering from chronic pain and illness, but for everyone. All of the benefits of using the three heavy-hitting natural mattress components listed above still apply to the average person who might simply be trying to improve the quality of their sleep on a nightly basis.
Looking for a supportive mattress that can help relieve joint pain, back pain, and other types of chronic pain? Check out Soaring Heart’s collections of 100% certified organic mattresses.
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No matter what kind of product you’re looking to purchase these days, there is almost always guaranteed to be many ways to go about buying, and always a multiplicity of options to choose from. Whether you’re buying online or walking into a brick-and-mortar store, it is important to know a little bit about the ‘natural’ product you’re buying
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