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Bad Sleep Linked to Increased Pain

We all know that getting a good night's sleep is an important factor in leading a healthy life. But, with all the pressures of work and home, sometimes finding those seven or eight hours a night is much easier said than done.

If you're recovering from an on-the-job injury, though, getting restful sleep can make a world of difference as you head back to work. This is especially true if you are experiencing musculoskeletal problems like back or neck pain.

A recent study by scholars at the Harvard Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing looked into the effect that sleep has on pain and functioning among healthcare workers. It found that workers who did not get adequate sleep experienced higher amounts of pain that similarly situated well-rested workers. In addition, healthcare workers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to experience pain that limits their ability to perform work duties or activities of daily living.

The researchers targeted healthcare workers because employees in that industry have one of the highest risks of back pain and injury. In fact, nursing aids miss work because of back pain more often than workers in any other profession.

In response to these findings, the study's authors recommended that employers put a greater emphasis on sleep hygiene as part of their overall workplace wellness programs.

Workers should also take notice of the study's findings. Even people with chronic pain may be able to benefit from a renewed focus on good sleep habits.

Source: NIOSH Science Blog, "Sleep, Pain and Hospital Workers," Orfeu M. Buxton and Glorian Sorensen, August 9, 2012.

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