Sleeping Problems

Sleep, Chronic Pain and the Role of Physiotherapists


Excellent 2010 Studies




“There are several good quality studies on the topic of sleep dysfunction and chronic pain. After putting them all together, this 2010 systematic review concludes that there is consistent evidence associating chronic low back pain with greater sleep disturbances and reduced sleep duration (Kelly et al 2010).


The authors of this study recommend that management strategies for chronic pain should ideally address sleep problems to maximize quality of life.


This 2010 RCT looked at the effectiveness of aerobic physical activity with sleep hygiene education to improve sleep, mood and quality of life in individuals with chronic insomnia (Reid et al 2010).


Patients with a sedentary lifestyle and with chronic insomnia were randomly allocated to either:


Group #1: Sleep hygiene education (e.g. don’t watch TV, drink coffee, get angry before bed time, etc.)


Group #2: Sleep hygiene education AND aerobic physical exercise prescription (e.g. walking, cycling or treadmill)


After 4 months, the patients in the physical exercise group had significantly greater improvements in their sleep quality, sleep duration, daytime sleepiness and depressive symptoms.


Clinical Conclusion: An aerobic physical exercise program (involving two 20-minute sessions 4x/week or one 30 minute session 4x/week) with sleep hygiene education can be very beneficial to patients with insomnia and depressive moods. If sleep disorders are not addressed with patients with persistent pain, it will be very difficult to recover completely from your pain condition”


Take The Sleep Quiz to see if you have sleep problems, and find practical, drugless solutions to your particular problem.



Kelly GA, et al The Association Between Chronic Low Back Pain and Sleep: A Systematic Review. Clin J Pain. 2010 Sep 8.

Reid KJ, et al Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Med. 2010 Oct;11(9):934-40. Epub 2010 Sep 1.