Sleep More And Feel Less Pain

By Nick Venable | Published

Sleep, you magnificent, time-consuming bastard. There are plenty of theories about the right amount of sleep needed to do just about anything on the planet, and most are conflicting. At least eight hours of sleep is needed for a healthy lifestyle. Sleep instead of studying the night before a test. Going for a long car ride with your family? Sleep first so that your driving isn’t impaired and your irritability is lessened. Actually, there doesn’t seem to be much conflict at all here. Sleep looks like the way to go. Laziness is next to godliness, people! You heard it here!

Now, what was the point here? Oh yeah. Sleep also makes you invincible!

Well, not exactly. But a study published in the journal Sleep shows that an extremely solid night’s sleep — 10 hours or so — is a more effective pain reducer than the narcotic codeine. Researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State University in Detroit studied 18 volunteers, between the ages of 21 and 35, for a four-night period. It was determined that those who slept more 10 ten hours a night could withstand the pain of holding their finger to a heat source for 25 seconds longer than those who had eight hours or fewer. That has to be one of the stranger sentences I’ve written. I’m unsure why this was the only method of pain used, but I guess insurance was involved.

The research backs up previous studies linking a lack of sleep and pain thresholds, and is the first to demonstrate extended sleep’s advantages rather than just the disadvantages of sleep deprivation. “We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine,” said Dr. Timothy Roehrs of Henry Ford Hospital. He refers to another study where 60mg were given to volunteers, but showed less of an effect than 10 hours of sleep. Roehrs also says, “The importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures.”

So you hear that, kids who “had better be behind the bleachers at 3 p.m. sharp unless you want to see your bike floating down the river?” Sleeping through till lunch that morning will make that face-pummeling slightly easier to take. The glass is half-full now, huh?