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Sleep and pain in children and adolescents 

Sleep and pain in children and adolescents
Sleep and pain in children and adolescents

Bruce D. Dick

, Penny Corkum

, Manisha Witmans

, and Christine T. Chambers

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date: 29 July 2021

Ongoing pain is a problem that affects a large number of children and adolescents. It has been well documented that recurrent and chronic pain are associated with many difficulties related to both physical and psychological function. A major difficulty that many young people with chronic or recurrent pain experience is disrupted sleep. Sleep problems have been reported to exist in as many as 50% or more of children with chronic illnesses (Owens, 2007). In many cases, pain is reported by the sufferers to cause sleep fragmentation as well as significant difficulties with delayed sleep onset. As well, there is increasing evidence that disrupted sleep is associated with increased pain. Both pain and sleep disruption further complicate the patient’s overall clinical picture by making it more difficult for children and teens to cope with health problems and associated difficulties. Further, there is evidence that childhood sleep problems can have important negative effects on adult sleep patterns and, thereby, influence health status later in life (Fricke-Oerkermann et al., 2007; Sivertsen et al., 2009). This chapter will address the prevalence, importance, and consequences of sleep problems in children and adolescents with pain. First, the prevalence and possible relationship between pain and sleep will be discussed. Next, we will highlight the assessment of sleep with a specific focus on assessment of sleep in paediatric pain populations. We will then review established and emerging medical and psychological treatment strategies used to effectively treat these important difficulties. Practical suggestions will also be provided as a general and basic guide for treatment of children and teens with pain and sleep problems.

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