Today I would like to take another question from the files of reader polls: What in the world can cause waves of pain upon waking?
This comes up from time to time as people write in about the Stop Snoring and Insomnia programs. However, this question is a bit more generalized than what people usually ask me.
To find out what is causing waking pain, we first need to find out when the waking pain is happening, and also where the pain is occurring.
Pain that wakes you up at night or that you notice in the morning even if you sleep all night, and is generally limited to the legs is thought to be either a symptom of restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, or circulation problems from another disease process.
Pain limited to the ribcage and diaphragm area and causes problems with wakefulness at night can indicate issues in the muscles of the thorax or even a pleural (lung) disease process. Frequently, though, this type of pain (especially if there is chest discomfort) can indicate serious sleep apnea issues, which should be taken very seriously.
What if it is low back pain in the mornings? This is usually because either your mattress needs to be replaced or you are showing the first signs of spinal subluxation. This can be a misalignment or even a chemical imbalance causing degeneration of the vertebrae.
Now back pain that is limited to one side, however, can indicate a problem with how your kidneys are functioning, but simple blood tests can rule that in or out.
The general tone of the rest of the reader’s email from when we started, though, talked about general waves of pain that wash over the whole body, as if it were being compressed. This was occurring regardless of whether he would wake during the night, which was frequently, or upon waking in the morning.
This raises a whole different category of possibilities because of the generalized nature of the pain locations.
What research tends to point out is this type of pain upon waking is due to two components:
- A disruption of normal sleep cycles.
Dehydration is a tricky issue. Most people know by now (or should) that if you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you’ve waited too long. Another problem is the beverages chosen.
We have discussed in the past that anything but water is generally not going to do a good job to give your body the proper amounts of hydration it needs.
Balancing electrolytes is important, but generally people who have this problem are athletes or people with metabolic disorders. Anyone outside of these two categories should avoid sports drinks.
We have also talked about sleep as it refers specifically to fibromyalgia, but even people who don’t suffer from fibromyalgia can be victim to this debilitating problem.
The muscles in your body depend greatly upon your brain being able to sleep. Critical neurotransmitters released during stage 4 sleep are what help the nerves in the muscles to maintain good health. Other chemicals released during restful sleep help the muscle tissue itself to repair and grow.
When we are limited on the amount of proper sleep, we are limited on the chemicals we need to recover from the daily damage we cause to ourselves just by living life.
A friend of mine mentioned that she frequently woke during the night with the same types of crushing pain. It only lasted a second or two but it washed over her literally from head to toe.
She had spoken with her doctor to rule out the scary diseases and underwent a lot of testing. She discovered that she was dehydrated and she set to work at changing her water intake. I gave her some information on what people need as a minimum intake (at least 2.5 liters per day).
She improved a bit but it wound up being the sleep study that saved her.
It turns out that she has mild sleep apnea and just a mild case of snoring. But, her anxiety issues were causing her to wake up no less than 20 to 30 times during the night.
Once she got that straightened out, her sleep naturally improved and the combination of proper hydration and better rest solved the pain problems.
Naturally solving the sleep issue is usually a better resolution than resorting to pills, and is almost always much cheaper than prescription drugs as well.