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Sleep Disturbances Can Cause Pain

A new study reports that disturbances in sleep can impair the body’s natural pain control mechanisms and can lead to spontaneous painful symptoms in women. The discovery adds to the growing body of literature on the mental and physical importance of good sleep.

Prior studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In this study, disturbance in sleep was found to impair endogenous pain-inhibitory function and increase spontaneous pain in women. This finding suggests a possible pathophysiologic role of sleep disturbance in chronic pain.

The study is published in the April 1st issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, conducted by Michael T. Smith, PhD, and colleagues at John’s Hopkins University, focused on 32 healthy females, who were studied polysomnographically for seven nights.

“This study finds that fragmented sleep profiles, akin to individuals suffering from middle of the night insomnia, health care workers on call, and parents caring for infants, alter natural systems that regulate and control pain, and can lead to spontaneous painful symptoms,” said Smith.

“Our research shows that disrupted sleep, marked by multiple prolonged awakenings, impairs natural pain control mechanisms that are thought to play a key role in the development, maintenance, and exacerbation of chronic pain.”

Experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health and optimum performance.

Those who think they might have a sleep disorder are urged to discuss their problem with their primary care physician, who will issue a referral to a sleep specialist.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Sleep Disturbances Can Cause Pain

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sleep Disturbances Can Cause Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/04/02/sleep-disturbances-can-cause-pain/721.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.