New Research: Sleep/Pain Connection a Reality?

In addition to the well-known comorbidities associated with sleep disorders, English researchers have detected “widespread pain” as yet another consequence of poor sleep.

The study titled “Predictors of new onset widespread pain in older adults Results from the prospective population-based NorStOP study” and originally published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, found that sleep is the strongest independent factor affecting pain, making it more likely people older than 50 will develop widespread pain. Additionally, the study found that simply getting older does not play a role in the pain.

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Anxiety, memory impairment, and poor physical health among adults will increase the risk of widespread pain as well, according to the study. “While [osteoarthritis] is linked to new onset of widespread pain, our findings also found that poor sleep, cognition, and physical and psychological health may increase pain risk,” said Dr. John McBeth from the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University.

According to, researchers collected data on pain, psychological and physical health and other factors from more than 4,300 adults over the age of 50 who were free of widespread pain at the start of the study. The researchers followed up with the participants three years later to ask them about their pain levels.

A possible way to break the cycle of poor sleep and overall body pain? Aerobic exercise is one remedy that Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said could improve fitness and reduce pain and fatigue, while also improving sleep and well being.

Source: Keele University

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