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Could Extra Sleep be More Effective than Painkillers?

Submitted by on March 22, 2013 – 11:14 PM hours of sleep, in the right direction of the circadian clock is known to not only work its magic to rid us of dark circles and bless us with healthy, glowing skin but it’s also one of the key components of a fresh and healthy start of a rigorous day. However, scientists now claim that sleeping for ten hours – rather than the recommended eight – can be a more effective means of reducing pain compared to painkillers, like Codeine.


Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in the United States, studied 18 volunteers over four nights and found that those who slept for 10 hours were able to keep their finger on a heat source for 25 seconds longer than those who had eight hours of sleep or fewer. In a previous study volunteers were given 60mg of the painkiller Codeine and then checked for pain sensitivity. The new findings, published in the journal Sleep, revealed the effect was greater than was seen with the previous study.


Dr Timothy Roehrs, lead author of the study, said: “Our results outline the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures. We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity as a result of more sleep, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine.”


Previous studies have suggested that poor sleep is linked to chronic pain in women. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, concluded that even those who occasionally had trouble sleeping were at double the risk of pain. Two thirds of people with chronic back pain also suffered from sleep disorders.


Hence, this latest study was the first to suggest that extended sleep in sleep-deprived volunteers reduced their sensitivity to pain. These results, combined with data from previous research, suggest that underlying sleepiness in tired people leads to increased pain sensitivity.


Since the study was concentrated on a very small group of people, regardless of various other factors, like their sleeping patterns, variable pain thresholds and their general health status, etc, not enough data is available to draw concrete conclusions. Hence there’s certainly a lot more to be learnt regarding the matter but the study definitely reinforces the importance of a proper sleeping schedule in order to remain mentally relaxed and physically active.



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