The Intersection of Chronic Pain, Serious Mental Illness, and Trauma on Sleep

This webinar, presented by Cathy Cave, is the second in a three-part series. Building upon knowledge from the previous presentation, Creating Environments for a Good Night’s Sleep, part two examines the unique challenges presented by chronic pain, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when attempting to achieve restful sleep. Symptoms of these conditions affect a person’s ability to fall and stay asleep. This webinar can be a valuable resource for psychotherapists, psychologists, and therapists, as well as individuals who struggle to get sufficient sleep.

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder can have a complicated impact on sleep. Trauma is understood to develop as a result of an event, series of events, or circumstances experienced as being harmful or life-threatening. These experiences result in lasting adverse consequences for an individual’s mental and physical well-being. Traumatic stress can cause some individuals to develop PTSD, which presents symptoms of flashbacks and anxiety that can increase restlessness and physiological awareness. These symptoms make it challenging to sleep. As a lack of sleep can negatively impact a person’s overall sense of well-being, symptoms of trauma and consequent poor sleep can reinforce one another, leaving many people caught in a vicious cycle.

Chronic pain and lack of sleep can also engage in a negative feedback loop. Pain may prevent individuals from sleeping, causing their symptoms to worsen. Research shows a link between chronic pain conditions and trauma, and similar strategies may be effective in addressing inadequate sleep in individuals diagnosed with either condition. In the case of both, people may have adopted comfort-seeking habits that exacerbate their sleeplessness, and any interventions that address these habits must also take the individual’s emotional needs into account. Strategies mentioned in the previous webinar, such as using aromatherapy, can be included in sleep wellness plans to help foster a relaxing environment for sleep.

Resources mentioned in this webinar include the following:

Watch the rest of this series: Part 1 | Part 3.

(Presentation, YouTube)

VIEW RESOURCE