22 Surprising Symptoms of Painsomnia


Many of those in the chronic illness community may struggle with painsomnia, which occurs when someone is in too much pain to be able to fall asleep. Naturally, this can result in sleepiness or fatigue the following day on top of the pain the person is already experiencing. But the impact of painsomnia can go far beyond feeling a bit tired the next day.

We wanted to know exactly how painsomnia can affect chronic warriors in the hopes of raising awareness and promoting a better understanding of what they may be experiencing, so we asked our Mighty community to share a surprising symptom or side effect of painsomnia. If this is something you struggle with, know you are not alone.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Dry eyes and restless legs. Just when I think I am comfortable enough to fall asleep (somewhere between 4 and 7 a.m.) I have to get up to pee, ugh. Best thing I did for myself was get an electric bed.” – Susan S.B.
  2. Mostly sobbing. My body is just so exhausted all I can do is bury my head in the pillow, and pray while I cry. From the sadness I usually end up writing or doing something creative to break the cycle.” – Brandi M.
  3. Panic attacks. I’ll be kept awake by pain and start counting the hours, minutes, seconds to my alarm and have a complete freak out.” – Bridget J.
  4. Discovery of new shows to binge on Hulu and Netflix! On a serious note nothing surprises me anymore. I am a cranky ‘you know what’ when I get little or no sleep, so attitude is no surprise. Pain also no surprise of any kind. A not-so-normal ‘symptom’ is that when painsomnia sets in and I get no sleep it triggers actual insomnia and I will be awake for at least two days.” – Priscilla G.
  5. When the nerve pain gets bad, I get jittery. Combine it with not being able to exercise and having ADHD, this is seriously jittery. I pick at my finger and toe nails and cuticles and at the worst points will literally rock myself back and forth. It is not a typical feeling of pain, but more like every piece of my skin is crawling. When at my worst there is no relief from meds and I will not sleep at all for over 30 or more hours. It is not the most painful symptom in typical terms of pain, but it is one of the worst symptoms I experience. It affects my mind to where I feel ‘crazy’ and flares up every other symptom.” – Jay N.G.
  6. Anger, sadness, isolated. While my husband can sleep I’m upset that I can’t, that he can be well rested and dreaming and I’m stuck awake, and also that I can’t wake him up or talk to people about it because everyone is sleeping.” – Camara B.
  7. How time seems to stand still, like this night will never end.” – Melanie C.
  8. When I’m in pain and in bed, I can’t sleep because I feel everything: every muscle twitch, every seam of my clothing, every wrinkle in the sheets, every bump in the pillow. It’s like my body is on overdrive, and I can’t calm down due to the pain and discomfort.” – Melissa S.P.
  9. Finger joints locking, unable to move them. Extreme cramping in feet, especially the arches. Surviving on two to three hours of sleep each night for as long as I can remember, while still working 50+ hours a week.” – Amy Q.
  10. Painsomnia makes my already bad insomnia worse and that causes me to have my emotions everywhere at once because I’m so exhausted from not sleeping and it makes everything much more frustrating and makes me so tired and makes me not want to deal with people on days when it’s worse. Really has an impact on my social life. But it makes me a stronger person all around because I’m learning to push through it and put my fake face on to do what I need to do. Sleep is a luxury.” – Asher B.
  11. Numbness/tingling in my hands/arms, legs/feet.” – Allison M.
  12. Nausea! Lack of sleep due to painsomnia always makes me nauseated through the next day. It took a while to realize that the painsomnia was why I kept feeling sick.” – Kelly S.
  13. Laughing when the pain increases.” – Kelly M.
  14. “The delusional state of exhaustion when when everything is hilarious and you make no sense to others.” – Karla D.
  15. I always think it’s weird that painsomnia will keep me awake most of the night, but it sort of wears itself out and around 4:30 to 5 a.m. I’ll drop off to sleep. Just in time for when I should be waking.” – Stacey B.
  16. Waking up to your hands in the form of a claw.” – Melissa T.S.
  17. I’m exhausted. Depression. More weird symptoms, aches and pains. I have nightmares so real I wake up throughout the night terrified and sad. My knees lock up and it’s hard to stand when I get out of bed.” – Tea M.
  18. Severe night cramps – feels like my leg has been shot.” – Brody R.
  19. I get so irritable. There’s this kind of angry that chronic illness causes that almost feels like an out of body experience. I can hear myself getting ratty with the people around me and I can hear myself snapping at them but I can’t seem to think clearly enough to stop it.” – Leah R.
  20. Having excessive sleep movements and waking up twisted like a pretzel because it was the only way I could be comfortable in my sleep.” – Sam O.
  21. Microsleeping throughout the day.” – Honor H.
  22. You become more accustomed to the pain… the staying up for hours and hours on end relentlessly, the living in a constant state of exhaustion. You don’t realize just how strong you are until you can get up and on with the next day like you weren’t crying and screaming in your bed the night before with unfathomable pain.” – Martine H.

Photo by ANMOL on Unsplash


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