Caffeine and Sleep Could Treat Painadmin
Neurologists and neurobiologists at Boston Children’s Hospital recently published a study in Nature Medicine examining how sleep deprivation impacts chronic pain and what can be done to address this cycle. As Popular Science states, “once you’re in pain, it’s hard to fall asleep, which makes you sleep-deprived, which tends to make the pain worse.”
So the researchers began with mice, depriving them of sleep in a way many of us are familiar with – by providing them with entertainment. They then tested the mice’s reaction to pain. They found, as expected, the sleep deprived mice had more intense reactions to pain. They then administered caffeine and modafinil, which “helped the sleep-deprived mice return to a normal baseline of pain sensitivity”. While the researchers aren’t positive “how directly that relates to humans” – i.e.; Is caffeine just as good as sleep? Could too much caffeine prohibit someone from sleeping, making their chronic pain worse? – we do know that caffeine does help with acute pain (it’s found in a number of common pain meds).
“Chronic pain is a different beast,” however, Sara Chodosh writes. “Oftentimes patients are suffering from nonspecific pain, which could be quite different from the specific pain these little mice experienced.”