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Experimental sleep restriction facilitates pain and electrically induced cortical responses

Study Objectives: 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. Design: A paired crossover study. Intervention: Pain testing was performed after 2 nights of 50% SR and after 2 nights with habitual sleep (HS). Setting: Laboratory experiment at research center. Participants: Self-reported healthy volunteers (n = 21, age range: 18–31 y). Measurements and Results: 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). Conclusion: 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...

Matre, Dagfinn; Hu, Lu; Viken, Leif Andre; Hjelle, Ingri Berild; Wigemyr, Monica; Knardahl, Stein; Sand, Trond; Nilsen, Kristian Bernhard
Sleep 38(10): 1607–1617
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