Part 6: Understanding Pain, It's Effects on Sleep Quality, and What to Look For to Eliminate Pain
Unfortunately, the body will be in situations where it is in pain. The causes of this pain can be varied. It can be as simple as muscle tissue damage from the wear and tear of daily activities to the more obvious trauma caused by an accident or jerking movement that causes musculoskeletal pain, fractures, sprains, and dislocation.
When experiencing significant pain that affects sleep you are desperate for relief, which is why today more and more people are turning to sleep aids and prescription medications such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and ramelteon (Rozerem) to deal with pain and get to sleep. Others turn to treatments that include injections with anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medications in or around specific areas of pain, physical or occupational therapy, acupuncture or acupressure, relaxation/biofeedback techniques, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic care, and therapeutic massage.
When it comes to sleep, the discussion mainly focuses solely on comfort, then there are some that want to take a deeper dive into what will help them sleep better and begin discussing pressure relief or pressure redistribution. However, popular concepts that we judge sleep on don’t truly deliver on the goal of pain management. Here at Essentia, we approach pain management just as we approach all aspects of sleep quality and proper sleep needs by considering all the variables.
SLEEP FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT
Pain during sleep is an obstructive stimulant and works adversely towards accomplishing restorative sleep, it keeps your body in wake stages and prevents proper long sleep cycles. Some pain is actually created by the mattress, this is where pressure redistribution plays a major role. A mattress that causes pressure points then becomes the actual source of the pain by pushing back on the body and not being able to adequately redistribute your body weight, this is all caused by lack of support that stems from low-density materials like pillow tops and standard foams.
Addressing pain is a very important part of creating the optimal sleep environment. There will be other pain sources that are not related to the sleep surface, such as those we highlighted in the beginning or even headaches and digestive health. All humans share a general commonality when it comes to certain aspects of the body, but each individual carries their own blend of pain and struggle unique to your body. Being aware of your personal pains, the causes, and how to manage that pain is critical in creating your ultimate sleep environment.
Approaching the task of understanding your personal pains, I find it is best to look at it from a holistic standpoint. For example, sleeping pills may eliminate the consciousness of pain, however, the body is still dealing with the spikes and attempted self-healing which creates the nonideal sleep cycle. This is why many people who use narcotics for sleep wakeup tired and groggy. The approach for pain that we believe in is to approach with the most obvious, which is the sleep surface, and then to expand to other remedies which can include nutrition, diet, and herbal remedies, natural supplements, soothing environment. The key is to capture as much restorative sleep as possible within the circumstances to accelerate overall pain recovery, and then to build on some long-term solutions which often revolve around weight management. There are some inherent issues in abnormal spinal curve and posture that will definitely rely on sleep surface as its principal source of pain or principal source of relief, in all conditions, most of these manifest greater pain with increased weight.
When addressing physical pain with a sleep surface, both musculoskeletal pain or surface tissue pain and comfort are to be treated separately. On normal skin tissue, pain is triggered by excessive pain points which result in tossing and turning or carried over into daytime pain. The results of a bad sleep surface are a constant breakdown and increase of pain points. What starts as surface pain can then affect the way a person walks, sits, runs, the changes we make to adapt to the pain usually develop musculoskeletal pains which often spike higher levels and longer-lasting pains. An extended period of time exposed to pressure points leads to bedsores, but it should be recognized that even in the standard 8 hours of sleep, although bedsores have not developed, the individual is trending towards creating pain and not proper pain management.
For the surface tissue, a sleep surface needs to adapt delicately and swiftly to contours and weight variances throughout the body. In observing people dealing with surface tissue pains not related to the sleep surface, we have identified that both gentle, high elasticity pressure distribution and temperature regulation have been a factor with skin pain flare-ups and skin rash. The optimized surface and conditions reduce pain, improve sleep, and accelerate recovery.
When addressing musculoskeletal pain, the layers beneath the initial delicate redistributing surface of a mattress comes into play. Here pressure redistribution always plays an important role, however, density, support, and consistency are vital in creating an environment that is constantly improving a physical pain condition instead of contributing to the increased pain and lengthened recovery time associated with a standard “comfort mattress”.
Nowadays, many brands tout memory foam for support and pressure relief, however, they incorporate too little of this foam and also use low-density memory foams which do not have the inherent support that memory foam was designed to offer. It is key that the mattress offers enough high elasticity depth to eliminate the negative space with dense, supportive, and adaptive material. The typical memory foams which have been the “go-to” mattress for pain sufferers also introduce a cocktail of chemicals that work adversely for restorative sleep. I cover this fully in Part 2: Managing Indoor Air, however, for direct pain management, density and elasticity are the most important shortfalls of typically marketed consumer brands.
When developing Essentia's patented slow response organic latex foam, it was in fact the medical experts that we took value in creating the perfect surface for pain management. Our patented molded technology addressed surface tissue pain management, active cooling helps with flare-ups and rash, and the highest density and high elasticity support core are not only constant throughout the sleep cycle, but for 20 years. We are proud to produce the materials used in our sleep products, meaning they are fully developed and blended in our GOLS and GOTS certified organic factory.
Seems obvious that a mattress should help with pain management, but how well it does is a game-changer on your overall wellness.