If chronic jaw pain or headaches make it hard for you to sleep, you may be surprised to learn that your pain is affecting your spouse’s sleep. If you have a close relationship, that is.

Chronic Pain Affects a Spouse’s Sleep

Older couple sleeping comfortably together in bedThe recent study, published in the journal Pain, looked at nearly 150 couples with one partner that had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. Knee pain was chosen because people with knee pain have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, although this seemed not to matter. To qualify, the osteoarthritis sufferer had to experience usual knee pain of moderate or greater intensity, both members of the couple had to be at least 50 years old. The couple had to be married or in a long-term relationship and living together. For 22 consecutive nights, subjects were asked to report their sleep quality, whether they felt refreshed in the morning, and their pain levels.

Surprisingly, researchers found that the osteoarthritis sufferer’s sleep was not correlated to their level of pain. But their spouse’s sleep quality was affected by the sufferer’s level of pain, if the couple was in a close relationship. A spouse was also more likely to suffer poor sleep if they experienced depression or other negative moods.

In Sickness or in Health

This study serves as a reminder that your pain is not yours alone. You may think you can handle your pain. You may think you don’t need treatment, that it’s minor, and you can bear it without your spouse ever knowing. But this study, and another recent study of migraines, reminds us that your pain affects your family, too.

People who are unable to sleep are subject to cardiovascular risks as well as risks of psychological disorders, which means that when you can’t sleep because you’re not healthy, you affect your spouse’s health, too.

If you are suffering TMJ pain, you owe it to your spouse and your family to seek treatment. Please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.