Sleep deprivation not only triggers anemia and weakness but also less resistance to body pain.
According to a new study, less sleep means more body pain as the brain sends the pain signals instead of suppressing them. Throughout the research, 25 healthy people who normally sleep for eight hours participated. After a week or so, the same people did not sleep for a night.
At the end of every session, all of the participants engaged in “thermal pain sensitivity” tests. It is then followed by MRI scans for the monitoring of brain activity while their legs were laid bare to unpleasant levels of heat.
The University of California Neuroscience and Psychology professor Matthew Walker worked with Krause. Together, they documented each of the participant’s pain tolerance following a slumber sleep. They then scan participants’ brains as increased levels of heat are applied to their skin.
Following a good night’s sleep, a majority of the people informed of feeling heat irritation at almost 44°C. However, having a night with no sleep at all, the pain tolerance declined to just under 42°C. Brain scans identified the neurological basis for the increase in pain sensitivity after lack of sleep.
“It is our hope that this research especially encourages health care systems to bring sleep closer to the center of treatment. If we can improve sleep conditions in the setting in which patients are most often in pain – the hospital ward – perhaps we can reduce the dosage of narcotic drugs and clear hospital beds sooner,” study author Adam Krause explained.
The new research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It suggested that sleep deprivation raises pain sensitivity making the painkilling response of the brain desensitized. It shows that one in three American adults, or 35% of the adult populace experience sleep deprivation.
The lack of sleep debilitates the brain’s usual procedures for alleviating pain. It brings forth attention to the possible association between the public health upheavals of sleep deprivation, prescription opioid addiction, and chronic pain. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, on average, about 130 people in the US die of an opioid overdose on a daily basis. Moreover, more than 20% of the US adult population live with chronic pain.
The researchers discovered that the brain’s somatosensory cortex was jittery when the participants did not get enough sleep. It is a region in the brain related to pain sensitivity. This unveiled the reason why sleep deprivation could intrude in the brain’s natural procedure to counter the pain.