Monday, May 18, 2015

Insomniacs may Be More Sensitive to Pain

People with insomnia or poor sleep quality may be less tolerant of pain, new research suggests.

The more frequent and severe the insomnia, the greater the sensitivity to pain, the Norwegian study showed. Additionally, the researchers noted that people with insomnia who also suffer from chronic pain have an even lower threshold for physical discomfort.

The study, led by Borge Sivertsen, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen, involved more than 10,000 adults. The study participants all underwent a standard test of pain sensitivity by dunking their hands in a bath of cold water for 106 seconds.

The volunteers were also asked about their sleep quality. The researchers also took into account other factors that might affect pain tolerance, such as recurring pain, depression and anxiety.

They found that nearly one-third of participants were able to keep their hand in the cold water for the entire test.

Those with insomnia, however, were more likely to remove their hand from the water early. In fact 42% of people with insomnia pulled their hand out before the test ended, compared to 31% of those without this sleep disorder, the study published in the journal PAIN revealed.

People with more severe cases of insomnia had greater pain sensitivity, suggesting tolerance of pain drops along with sleep quality. People with insomnia and chronic pain were more than twice as likely to have reduced tolerance to pain, the research revealed.

“While there is clearly a strong relationship between pain and sleep, such that insomnia increases both the likelihood and severity of clinical pain,” Sivertsen and his co-authors wrote, “it is not clear exactly why this is the case.”

My Take:
Poor sleep quality is a significant indicator of general health. There are two questions I ask of virtually every new patient – “How well to you sleep?” and “How is your libido?”

Most frequently, sleep issues are the result of endocrine imbalance. Adrenal stress and adrenal fatigue head the list but blood sugar imbalance is the close second. Many times both are involved and we have to sort through the endocrine system to resolve the problem.

I have written several blogs about sleep issues, the most recent was “The Evolution of Sleep: 700 Million Years of Melatonin” posted on October 13, 2014. If you don’t remember, or didn’t read that one, please take a few minutes and revisit that post.

Sleep disturbances are a causative factor in atrial fibrillation (AF), hypertension, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and most of the chronic ills that affect our population.

The Bottom Line:
If you are not sleeping well, that is a significant warning signal. Your health is in jeopardy. Please seek qualified nutritional advice to remedy this symptom. Often the answer is simple but even if the process is ongoing, it is vital to your long term health.

May 12, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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