Experimental Sleep Restriction Facilitates Pain and Electrically Induced Cortical Responses.

Research paper by Dagfinn D Matre, Li L Hu, Leif A LA Viken, Ingri B IB Hjelle, Monica M Wigemyr, Stein S Knardahl, Trond T Sand, Kristian Bernhard KB Nilsen

Indexed on: 22 Jul '15Published on: 22 Jul '15Published in: Sleep


Sleep restriction (SR) has been hypothesized to sensitize the pain system. The current study determined whether experimental sleep restriction had an effect on experimentally induced pain and pain-elicited electroencephalographic (EEG) responses.A paired crossover study.Pain testing was performed after 2 nights of 50% SR and after 2 nights with habitual sleep (HS).Laboratory experiment at research center.Self-reported healthy volunteers (n = 21, age range: 18-31 y).Brief high-density electrical stimuli to the forearm skin produced pinprick-like pain. Subjective pain ratings increased after SR, but only in response to the highest stimulus intensity (P = 0.018). SR increased the magnitude of the pain-elicited EEG response analyzed in the time-frequency domain (P = 0.021). Habituation across blocks did not differ between HS and SR. Event-related desynchronization (ERD) was reduced after SR (P = 0.039). Pressure pain threshold of the trapezius muscle region also decreased after SR (P = 0.017).Sleep restriction (SR) increased the sensitivity to pressure pain and to electrically induced pain of moderate, but not low, intensity. The increased electrical pain could not be explained by a difference in habituation. Increased response magnitude is possibly related to reduced processing within the somatosensory cortex after partial SR.