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Sleep Loss Heightens Pain Sensitivity,
Dulls Brain’s Painkilling Response
Researchers recruited 25 healthy young adults who did not suffer from sleep or pain disorders.
Because different people have different pain thresholds, researchers began by recording each study participant’s baseline pain threshold after a full night’s sleep.
They did this by gradually increasing heat levels to the skin of each participant’s lower left leg while recording their brain activity in a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanner.
Study participants rated their thermal pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and reported, on average, thermal discomfort at around 111 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 44 degrees Celsius).
“Across the group, they were feeling discomfort at lower temperatures, which shows that their own sensitivity to pain had increased after inadequate sleep,”
“Sleep loss not only amplifies the pain-sensing regions in the brain, but blocks the natural analgesia centers, too,”
“The optimistic takeaway here is that sleep is a natural analgesic that can help manage and lower pain,”
“Our findings suggest that patient care would be markedly improved, and hospital beds cleared sooner, if uninterrupted sleep were embraced as an integral component of healthcare management,”
“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,”
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Health and Wellness is a multifaceted concept. We support and encourage an integrated approach to our patient's care. We acknowledging that physical and mental wellness are interconnected and the influence of nutrition plays a vital role in both arenas of a healthy individual.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) states: Physical therapists play a unique role in society in prevention, wellness, fitness, health promotion, and management of disease and disability by serving as a dynamic bridge between health and health services delivery for individuals and populations. This means that although physical therapists are experts in rehabilitation and habilitation, they also have the expertise and the opportunity to help individuals and populations improve overall health and prevent the need for avoidable health care services. Physical therapists’ roles may include education, direct intervention, research, and collaborative consultation. These roles are essential to the profession’s vision of transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.