Breaking the Cycle of Insomnia and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain comes with so many more issues than most people realize. Aside from the pain itself, it can cause mental health problems, weakness, and even contribute to insomnia. In fact, 1 in 4 people with chronic pain also has a sleep disorder.

Chronic pain and insomnia seem to go hand in hand. You may have struggled to find effective treatments for both of these conditions.

Working on the issues of sleep and pain from a behavioral standpoint can improve both issues, letting your mind and body get the rest they deserve so you can put more of your focus back into living your life.

You might be surprised to learn that therapy can help your sleep issues and your chronic pain. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) is specifically designed to improve the thoughts and behaviors that are causing your poor sleep. CBT-i has been clinically proven in a variety of studies. Another evidence-based therapy, Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is emerging as a leading treatment for chronic pain.

At DC Metro Therapy, we are trained in both PRT and CBT-i and we understand how to approach both insomnia and chronic pain.

How Does CBT-i Work for Insomnia? 

If you’re willing to give CBT-i a try, it’s important to first understand your insomnia and what might be causing it. Some of your sleep habits can be perpetuating the cycle of insomnia.

Thankfully, there are things you can do on your own to improve your thoughts and behaviors around sleep.  These changes are evidence-based and research shows that CBT-i can be up to 80% effective. Here is a summary of the steps involved in CBT-i.

  • Using your bed only for sleep
  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day
  • Not having a clock in the bedroom
  • Getting out of bed after 15 minutes if you can’t sleep
  • Not worrying about how much sleep you are/aren’t getting

Another important aspect of CBT-i is restricting the amount of time you are spending in bed. When it comes to insomnia, lying in bed and trying to sleep often makes insomnia worse. If you are struggling to fall or stay asleep, restricting your sleep schedule and time in bed can help you build sleep drive. With more sleep drive, you can fall and stay asleep more easily.

What is Pain Reprocessing Therapy?

PRT is an evidence-based treatment that works on treating chronic pain from its root cause: The Brain. PRT uses cutting-edge neuroscience to teach patients about how the brain processes pain. From there, PRT helps patients to unlearn old habits that connect chronic pain with fear and other negative emotions. And after breaking the cycle of conditioned responses around pain, patients can learn to respond to pain through a lens of safety, and pain is reduced.

The steps involved in PRT are:

  • Psychoeducation around pain and the brain
  • Learning that most chronic pain is due to a process in the brain, as opposed to a physical problem in the body
  • Using somatic tracking to begin to see pain as safe and neutral
  • Understanding how to best cope when pain is present
  • Relaxation techniques that can help our brain respond differently

A recent study looking at PRT for chronic back pain showed that nearly two-thirds of patients were pain-free or nearly pain-free after treatment. PRT can eliminate the need for pain medications or expensive treatments and surgeries.

Insomnia and Chronic Pain Can be Healed

There are plenty of tips and tricks out there designed to help people get more sleep and manage chronic pain. By combining CBT-i and PRT, you can tackle insomnia and chronic pain through non-medication approaches.

These therapies together can help you to effectively break the cycle of insomnia and chronic pain. At DC Metro Therapy, we are some of the only therapists out there trained in both of these techniques. Feel free to read more about insomnia and chronic pain and contact us if you want to explore approaches that can finally help you heal.