Sleep Loss Heightens Pain Sensitivity and Dulls Brain’s Painkilling Response

Sleep Loss Heightens Pain Sensitivity and Dulls Brain’s Painkilling Response

by Neuroscience News

When we’re in pain, we have a hard time sleeping. But how does poor sleep affect pain? For the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have answered that question by identifying neural glitches in the sleep-deprived brain that can intensify and prolong the agony of sickness and injury.

Their findings, to be published Jan. 28 in the Journal of Neuroscience, help explain the self-perpetuating cycles contributing to the overlapping global epidemics of sleep loss, chronic pain and even opioid addiction. A 2015 National Sleep Foundation poll found that two in three chronic pain patients suffer from reoccurring sleep disruptions.

“If poor sleep intensifies our sensitivity to pain, as this study demonstrates, then sleep must be placed much closer to the center of patient care, especially in hospital wards,” said study senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology.

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