Sleep deprivation in chronic somatoform pain-effects on mood and pain regulation.

Research paper by Volker V Busch, Joachim J Haas, Tatjana T Crönlein, Christoph C Pieh, Peter P Geisler, Göran G Hajak, Peter P Eichhammer

Indexed on: 03 Aug '11Published on: 03 Aug '11Published in: Psychiatry Research


Sleep deprivation was found to exert complex effects on affective dimensions and modalities of pain perception both in healthy volunteers and patients with major depression. Considering multifaceted links between mood and pain regulation in patients with chronic somatoform pain, it is intriguing to study sleep deprivation effects for the first time in this group of patients. Twenty patients with a somatoform pain disorder according to ICD-10 diagnostic criteria were sleep-deprived for one night, followed by one recovery night. Clinical pain complaints (visual analog scale), detection- and pain thresholds (temperature and pressure) as well as mood states (Profile of Mood States) were assessed on the day prior to the experiment, on the day after sleep deprivation and on the day after recovery sleep. We found a discrepancy between significantly increased clinical pain complaints and unaltered experimental pain perception after sleep deprivation. Only the clinical pain complaints, but not the experimental pain thresholds were correlated with tiredness-associated symptoms. Total mood disturbances decreased and feelings of depression and anger improved significantly after sleep deprivation. However, these changes were not correlated with a change in clinical pain perception. We conclude that sleep deprivation may generally change the reagibility of the limbic system, but mood processing and pain processing may be affected in an opposite way reflecting neurobiological differences between emotional regulation and interoceptive pain processing.