The world looks nicer after a good night of sleep. But the opposite happens when sleep is often interrupted. Lack of sleep makes it harder to think and easier to be anxious and frustrated. In the long run, lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and even premature death.
But in addition to the above problems, lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to pain, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers found that bad sleep interferes with certain centers of pain in the brain and may change how a person perceives and responds to discomfort and pain.
In the study, scientists scanned the brains of 25 healthy adults in two sleeping situations: initially after they had slept for eight hours, and again after being awake for 24 to 48 hours. During both scans, uncomfortable heat was exerted on them.
Scanners showed that when the group lacked sleep, they had a 120% increase in activity in the somatosensory cortex, the area of the brain that interprets how the pain is felt. This means that their pain limit was lower than they had been when they had done 8 hours of sleep.
When the group lacked sleep, they also had a 60% - 90% decrease in activity in the striatum and insula, two areas of the brain that when activated usually decrease the perception of pain. The researchers pointed out that lack of sleep makes the body less stable and that people suffering from frequent pain can benefit from improving their sleep.
While the type of sleep deprivation that the study examined is not typical, in another study researchers found that even smaller changes in sleep quality, similar to repeated waking at night, were also associated with pain during the following day.
Source: Health Journal