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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Jun 2023 - 9 Jun 2023

Psychology, Translational

Human Studies, Neurobiology


2023 Jun 05

J Pain


Medium- and Long-Term Effects of Insomnia Severity and Circadian Preference on Pain and Emotional Distress Among Individuals with Chronic Pain.


Mun CJ, Winsick N, Wegener ST, Youngstedt SD, Campbell CM, Aaron RV


Studies have identified insomnia as having significant influence on chronic pain. A rising body of research has also underscored the association between eveningness and chronic pain. However, co-assessment of insomnia and eveningness in the context of chronic pain adjustment has been limited. The present study sought to investigate the effects of insomnia and eveningness on pain severity, pain interference, and emotional distress (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptoms) over nearly two years among adults with chronic pain in the U.S. Adults with chronic pain (N=884) were surveyed three times via Amazon’s MTurk online crowdsourcing platform: baseline, 9-month follow-up, and 21-month follow-up. Path analysis was conducted to examine the effects of baseline insomnia severity (Insomnia Severity Index) and eveningness (Morningness and Eveningness Questionnaire), as well as their moderating effects on outcomes. Controlling for select socio-demographic variables and baseline outcome levels, greater insomnia severity at baseline was associated with worsening of all of the pain-related outcomes at 9-month follow-up, and pain interreference and emotional distress at 21-month follow-up. We did not find evidence that evening types are at a higher risk of experiencing worsening pain-related outcomes over time compared to morning and intermediate types. There were also no significant insomnia severity and eveningness moderation effects on any outcome. Our findings suggest that insomnia is a more robust predictor of changes in pain-related outcomes as compared to eveningness. Treatment of insomnia can be important in chronic pain management. Future studies should evaluate the role of circadian misalignment on pain using more accurate biobehavioral makers. PERSPECTIVE: This study examined the effects of insomnia and eveningness on pain and emotional distress in a large sample of individuals with chronic pain. Insomnia severity is a stronger predictor of changes in pain and emotional distress than eveningness, highlighting insomnia as an important clinical target for chronic pain management.