Extended sleep reduces pain sensitivity

December 1, 2012, American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A new study suggests that extending nightly sleep in mildly sleepy, healthy adults increases daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity.

"Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various or in preparation for elective surgical procedures," said Timothy Roehrs, PhD, the study's principal investigator and lead author. "We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in , when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine."

The study, appearing in the December issue of the journal SLEEP, involved 18 healthy, pain-free, sleepy volunteers. They were randomly assigned to four nights of either maintaining their habitual or extending their sleep time by spending 10 hours in bed per night. Objective was measured using the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), and pain sensitivity was assessed using a radiant heat stimulus.

Results show that the extended sleep group slept 1.8 hours more per night than the habitual sleep group. This nightly increase in sleep time during the four experimental nights was correlated with increased daytime alertness, which was associated with less pain sensitivity.

In the extended sleep group, the length of time before participants removed their finger from a source increased by 25 percent, reflecting a reduction in pain sensitivity. The authors report that the magnitude of this increase in finger withdrawal latency is greater than the effect found in a previous study of 60 mg of codeine.

According to the authors, this is the first study to show that extended sleep in mildly, chronically sleep deprived volunteers reduces their pain sensitivity. The results, combined with data from previous research, suggest that increased pain sensitivity in sleepy individuals is the result of their underlying sleepiness.

Explore further: Fatigue not a factor in fibromyalgia pain, study says

More information: "Pain Sensitivity and Recovery From Mild Chronic Sleep Loss" SLEEP, 2012.

Related Stories

Fatigue not a factor in fibromyalgia pain, study says

April 26, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Poor sleep is not a significant predictor of pain intensity and duration in patients with fibromyalgia, a new study says.

Weight gain induced by high-fat diet increases active-period sleep and sleep fragmentation

July 10, 2012
Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that prolonged exposure to ...

Many seniors' sleep habits are similar to those of young adults, study suggests

November 19, 2012
More than half of all retired people aged 65 and over report sleeping at least 7.5 hours per night, and between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., contrary to commonly held assumptions that most elderly go to bed early and ...

Recommended for you

Exposure to low levels of BPA during pregnancy can lead to altered brain development

March 17, 2018
New research in mice provides an explanation for how exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated "safe" human exposure level, can lead to altered brain ...

Smoking linked with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

March 15, 2018
The prevalence of diabetes has increased almost 10-fold in China since the early 1980s, with one in 10 adults in China now affected by diabetes. Although adiposity is the major modifiable risk factor for diabetes, other research ...

Key drivers of high US healthcare spending identified

March 13, 2018
The major drivers of high healthcare costs in the U.S. appear to be higher prices for nearly everything—from physician and hospital services to diagnostic tests to pharmaceuticals—and administrative complexity.

Pedometer health boost lasts four years

March 13, 2018
Wearing a pedometer to count your daily steps can keep you healthier and more active for as long as four years after using it, a new study shows.

Toilet-to-tap: Gross to think about, but how does it taste?

March 13, 2018
Here's a blind test taste like Pepsi never imagined. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, recently published a study of recycled wastewater that did not focus on its safety-which has long been established-but ...

The Great Recession took a toll on public health, study finds

March 12, 2018
The Great Recession, spanning 2008 to 2010, was associated with heightened cardiovascular risk factors, including increased blood pressure and glucose levels, according to a new UCLA-led study. The connections were especially ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.