(HealthDay News) — Poor sleep worsens the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and chronic pain in youth, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Pain.

Melanie Noel, PhD, from the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues assessed the role of sleep in the relationship between PTSD and pain in youth with chronic pain (97 participants; 10 to 17 years of age).

For youth with chronic pain, the researchers found that beyond the influence of demographic characteristics (age, race) and anxiety symptoms, sleep quality partially mediated the relationships between PTSD and pain intensity and interference. Higher levels of PTSD were linked to higher levels of pain intensity and pain interference. Poor sleep quality partially explained these relationships.

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“Findings highlight the potential mechanistic role of sleep in explaining the co-occurrence of chronic pain and PTSD and suggest sleep might be an important target in future interventions,” the authors write.


  1. Noel M, Vinall J, Tomfohr-Madsen L, Holley A L, Wilson AC, Palermo TM. Sleep mediates the association between PTSD symptoms and chronic pain in youth. J  Pain. 2017 Sept 26. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2017.09.002 [EPub ahead of print]