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Sleep more for less pain

Filed in
  • sleep length
  • pain

By Lynn Celmer  |  Dec 06, 2012
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A new study suggests that extending nightly sleep in mildly sleepy, healthy adults increases daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity.

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 sleep time or extending their sleep time by spending 10 hours in bed per night. Objective daytime sleepiness 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 radiant heat 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.

If you cannot sleep, wake up feeling unrefreshed or feel extremely sleepy every day, there is a sleep team near you that is ready to help with your sleep problems. Ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist at an AASM-Accredited sleep center.