Too Little Sleep Before Surgery? Drink More Coffee for Pain Relief!

Caffeine May Be a Novel Intervention for Sleep-Related Postoperative

The comorbidities of pain and sleep have been extensively discussed at PAINWeek, and a new study conducted by researchers from Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan examines the interaction of sleep loss and postoperative pain. Senior author Giancarlo Vanini, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Michigan Medicine, summarized, “Several studies demonstrate that pre- and postoperative sleep disturbances worsen pain and, more importantly, predict the onset of long-term postoperative pain. However, while the relationship between sleep and pain is well known, its underlying mechanisms remain unclear.” The team predicted that preoperative sleep disturbance would exacerbate postoperative pain, and sought to evaluate possible interventions that might minimize this effect. Working with mouse models, they identified a common agent with promising potential: caffeine.

The team’s work with rat models of surgical pain confirmed the hypothesis that extended wakefulness before surgery both intensified postoperative pain behaviors, and extended recovery times. Additionally, they found that administration of caffeine to the sleep deprived rats blocked the increase in postsurgical pain—and that this effect was only observed in cases of sleep deprivation. Dr. Vanini commented, “We think that caffeine might prevent the increase in pain sensitivity by blocking part of the neurochemical changes induced by sleep deprivation in specific brain areas that control sleep and wakefulness, and project to pain related sites.” He noted the clinical relevance of the discovery in that many patients who travel long distances for elective surgery do not get adequate sleep before their procedures. The work was published in the journal SLEEP.

Read more about the findings.

Read more about the findings here.

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