Credit: © Ivan Kruk / Fotolia

Credit: © Ivan Kruk / Fotolia

Sleep and coffee help improve chronic pain

Sleep and coffee help improve chronic pain, according to the latest research from Boston Children’s hospital.

Coffee and sleep have more in common than you may think. Both have been hot topics in the health community lately.

Researchers continue to uncover the importance of sleep, including how sleep deprivation affects your gut and weakens the immune system.

Coffee has also shown some amazing benefits lately, including cutting prostate cancer risk, reducing dementia risk, and may even help prevent clogged arteries.

The new research shows that sleep deprivation can significantly increase pain sensitivity. The results suggest that chronic pain sufferers may find relief by sleeping more.

Pain physiologist Alban Latremoliere, PhD, of Boston Children’s and sleep physiologist Chloe Alexandre, PhD, of BIDMC measured the effects of sleep deprivation on painful stimuli.

They tested pain medications like ibuprofen and morphine, along with wakefulness promoting supplements like caffeine.

The team measured normal sleep cycles with technology that took electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) readings.

For each mouse, we have exact baseline data on how much they sleep and what their sensory sensitivity is,” says Latremoliere, who works in the lab of Clifford Woolf, PhD, in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s.

Next, they caused sleep deprivation in the mice.

We developed a protocol to chronically sleep-deprive mice in a non-stressful manner, by providing them with toys and activities at the time they were supposed to go to sleep, thereby extending the wake period,” says Alexandre, who works in the lab of Thomas Scammell, MD, at BIDMC. “This is similar to what most of us do when we stay awake a little bit too much watching late-night TV each weekday.”

The researchers found the following results:

We found that five consecutive days of moderate sleep deprivation can significantly exacerbate pain sensitivity over time in otherwise healthy mice,” says Alexandre. “The response was specific to pain, and was not due to a state of general hyperexcitability to any stimuli.”

The researchers also found that regular pain medications like ibuprofen didn’t improve pain sensitivity. However, wakefulness supplements like caffeine did block the hypersensitivity caused by sleep deprivation.

This represents a new kind of analgesic that hadn’t been considered before, one that depends on the biological state of the animal,” says Woolf, director of the Kirby Center at Boston Children’s. “Such drugs could help disrupt the chronic pain cycle, in which pain disrupts sleep, which then promotes pain, which further disrupts sleep.”

The study showing that sleep and coffee improve chronic pain was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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1. “To Improve Chronic Pain, Get More Sleep (coffee Helps Too).” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.
2. “Decreased Alertness Due to Sleep Loss Increases Pain Sensitivity in Mice.” Nature Medicine., n.d. Web. 14 May 2017.

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