Sleep Problems Linked to Low Pain TolerancePeople with sleep problems are more sensitive to pain. A study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health explored the relationship between pain tolerance and sleep problems. The study revealed that those with sleep problems like insomnia were less resistant to pain than people without sleep problems. The findings emphasize the importance of seeking treatment for sleep-related issues.

The researchers assessed the relationship between sleep and pain sensitivity, evaluating over 10,400 adults who were participating in a large, ongoing Norwegian health study. The participants completed a pain test and provided information about their sleep habits. The pain test was the cold pressor test. In this test, the subjects submerged their hand in a cold water bath for up to 106 seconds. The researchers asked the participants about their sleep habits and sleep impairments. Participants reported on total sleep time, sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), and insomnia.

The results demonstrated a connection between sleep problems and pain tolerance. Thirty-two percent of the participants kept their hand in the water for the full duration of the pressor test. Among participants with insomnia, 42 percent removed their hand early. Only 31 percent of participants without insomnia removed their hand early, suggesting that people with insomnia have a lower pain tolerance. People with more severe insomnia had lower pain tolerance. Fifty-two percent of people who reported experiences with insomnia more than once per week removed their hands early and 24 percent who reported experiences with insomnia once per month removed their hands early.

Pain sensitivity was also connected to sleep latency, but not to total sleep time.

This research is published in the journal Pain.

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