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Extra sleep may help reduce pain

Provided by: RELAXNEWS
Written by: Relaxnews
Dec. 3, 2012

Research suggests extra sleep may play a role in curbing pain. (Gaston M. Charles/shutterstock.com)


If you suffer from chronic pain -- such as headaches or backaches -- a small new study finds that getting extra sleep every night could help give you some relief.

"If you are already sleeping eight hours a night, you probably don't need more sleep," researcher Dr. Thomas Roth, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, told WebMD. "If you spend six hours in bed a night, spend eight -- preferably nine," he says.

Roth and his team recruited 18 healthy, pain-free volunteers who were randomly assigned to four nights of either maintaining their regular sleep time or extending their slumber to 10 hours.

To test pain sensitivity, subjects were asked to hold their finger against a radiant heat source. The amount of time subjects could do this increased by 25 percent in those who slept 10 hours after just four days. Previous research suggests this is similar to taking a 60-mg dose twice a day of the painkiller codeine.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine," Roth said.

How does sleep help curb pain? "We think that sleep loss and pain both increase levels of inflammatory markers, but getting more sleep may help decrease this inflammation," Roth told WebMD.

The study appears in the December issue of the journal Sleep. Access: http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=28718

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