Sleep deprivation is something that many people see as a challenge. Many have tried to see how long they would last before being too tired and sleepy to stay awake. But what may be a game to some is a very serious matter for others. Among the worst causes of sleep deprivation is chronic pain. This type of condition creates a vicious and very long cycle of pain and lack of sleep: Pain prevents you from sleeping, the lack of sleep gives way to more pain which prevents sleep even more and so on. These kinds of patients are usually prescribed common analgesics such as ibuprofen and morphine but researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital may just have found the most unexpected new drug that can effectively help relieve pain.
It’s caffeine! Well caffeine and another chemical found in coffee were found to effectively help ease the pain of mice that were intentionally deprived of sleep. Neurologists and neurobiologists at the children’s Hospital then exposed the mice to different types of pain and measured the amount of time that the mice took before starting to avoid the pain source. This duration grew smaller as the mice became more tired which meant that they were now more sensitive to pain than when they were well rested. At this point the effects of different pain killers were compared and it was found that the most effective pain killers were in fact modafinil and caffeine, two of what we call “wakefulness drugs”.
While these drugs acted as pain killers on exhausted mice, the same was not noticed in mice with normal levels of energy. This is due to the fact that wakefulness drugs do not attack the pain itself but rather the exhaustion and fatigue of the subjects.
This discovery may come as a surprise to some but many early morning workers will confirm it without having to look at scientific evidence. Coffee is indeed the only pain reliever that you need when you haven’t gotten enough sleep and sometimes even when you did.