Importance of sleep in the management of pediatric pain

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1999 Aug;20(4):244-52. doi: 10.1097/00004703-199908000-00007.


This article outlines several aspects of sleep regulation relevant to pediatric pain management. A broad range of connections between sleep and pain are described: (1) pain can interfere with the quality and quantity of children's sleep; (2) insufficient sleep (quality or quantity) can cause daytime sequelae (behavioral and emotional changes) that interfere with the coping skills necessary for effective pain management; (3) fear and anxiety often have a negative impact on both pain and sleep; (4) feelings of safety and control frequently have a positive effect on both sleep and pain symptoms; (5) adequate sleep seems to promote both physiological (tissue repair) and psychological (transient cessation of the perception of pain signals) processes relevant to recovery from pain, injury, and illness; and (6) treatment approaches to pediatric sleep and pain problems show considerable overlap with respect to many pharmacological as well as cognitive-behavioral interventions. Given these multiple links, a better understanding of sleep--and its importance in physical and mental health--is likely to be of value to clinicians and researchers working in areas of pediatric pain management. One specific hypothesis to be addressed is the possible contribution of sleep disruption as a step in the progression to some chronic pain syndromes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Perception / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*