Sleep is important to everyone; however, new research suggests it may be especially valuable to people who suffer from pain. Unfortunately, unending discomfort can lead to chronic insomnia, which may worsen pain in the long-run.
The Power of Sleep
New research indicates that sleep may hold the power to reduce the severity of pain in certain individuals; however, for TMD sufferers, this knowledge creates a bit of a catch-22 situation.
Published in the journal SLEEP (see AASM press release), the study recruited 18, healthy, pain-free subjects and split them into two groups of “normal sleepers,” who slept about as much as they usually would, and “extended sleepers,” who slept an average of 1.8 hours longer than usual.
The next day, researchers subjected each participant to pain by having them hold their fingers on a radiant heat source. Interestingly, participants from the extended sleepers group were able to maintain contact 25 percent longer than subjects from the normal sleepers group. Researchers note that this degree of pain tolerance was superior to the effects of 60 mg of codeine: an amazing fact that seems to show that sleep has the power to significantly dull pain.
The Painful Reality
Unfortunately, while this study is interesting, it may only serve to frustrate people who suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder. Often, the pain associated with TMD is so severe, sufferers aren’t able to sleep well. What’s more, even if they could, busy schedules and job demands aren’t likely to allow them to increase their sleep times by 1.8 hours a night.
In the end, TMD sufferers don’t need studies that tell them how they can better tolerate pain; they need real TMD relief that will eliminate pain, so they can sleep well at night and enjoy life during the day.