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Sleeping Longer Can Reduce Pain Sensitivity, Increase Alertness

New research suggests sleeping longer may help some adults increase daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity.

“Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures,” said Timothy Roehrs, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and lead author.

“We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine.”

The study is published in the journal SLEEP.

Researchers studied 18 healthy, pain-free, sleepy volunteers. Participants 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.

Investigators discovered this nightly increase in sleep time during the four experimental nights was linked with increased daytime alertness, which was associated with less pain sensitivity.

Clinically, 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.

Researchers say 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.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Sleeping Longer Can Reduce Pain Sensitivity, Increase Alertness

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). Sleeping Longer Can Reduce Pain Sensitivity, Increase Alertness. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/03/sleeping-longer-can-reduce-pain-sensitivity-increase-alertness/48507.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.