Sleep Apnoea Articles

Poor sleep hurts – literally!

Poor sleep hurts – literally!

It’s no revelation that a lack of sleep can hurt your health both in the short term, affecting your energy levels, mood and alertness and, in the long term, with an increased risk of high blood pressure,heart disease,and poorer glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes3). Poor sleep can also hurt us with physical pain too.

We know this fact, thanks to more than 10,000 Norwegians who voluntarily stuck their hands in a bucket of cold water.

During the study, which was published in the Journal, Pain and summarised in Medical Daily, the researchers recorded each brave subject’s sleep quality and how long they were able to keep their hand in the bucket of water before withdrawing. As a result of the study they “found that all sleep parameters, except sleep duration, were significantly associated with reduced pain tolerance”:

  • 42% of insomniacs took their hand out early.
  • Only 31% of healthy sleepers took their hand out early.4

This is interesting and relevant for poor sleepers and sleep apnoea sufferers alike as both groups experience similar challenges, i.e.;

  • Trouble falling asleep

    For people of CPAP therapy, sometimes it can be difficult to fall asleep, particularly with their device’s air pressure starting at the prescribed level. Which is why ResMed’s AutoRamp™ technology is so important. If you don’t use a device with AutoRamp, in a nutshell it starts the user off at a lower pressure, then once you fall asleep it automatically ramps up the pressure to the prescribed level.

  • Trouble staying asleep

    If sleep apnoea remains untreated, the onset of apnoeas cause your body to wake up and gasp for air without you even realising it. This can happen hundreds of times in a night.

“This is the first study to take a broader population-level look at the connection between sleep and pain, and the researchers advocate that more work be done in understanding just how the two are linked.” According to Medical Daily.

Meanwhile, pain intolerance is just another great reason why we should be doing all we can to ensure we fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer.

To help do that, read our blogs:

What do you think of the pain study? Have you noticed increased pain sensitivity when you’re lacking in sleep?


  1. Lavie P, Herer P and Hoffstein V. Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome as a risk factor for hypertension: Population study. Br Med J 2000;320:479–82.
  2. Shahar E et al. Sleep-disordered breathing and cardiovascular disease: Cross-sectional results of the Sleep Heart Health study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001;163(1):19–25.
  3. Aronsohn RS et al. Impact of untreated obstructive sleep apnea on glucose control in type 2 diabetes. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;181(5):507–13.
  4. Siversten B et al. Sleep and pain sensitivity in adults. Pain 2015 (accessed May 6, 2015).


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One thought on “Poor sleep hurts – literally!

  1. I seem to have a fairly high pain threshold as I have felt no pain or discomfort since having an inguinal hernia operation on 6th March. I have had a CPAPmachine for 7 years and regularly have a red face and AHI readings of 6-10. This may be due to restless legs. I have tried two of the standard medications for that but these make me dopey all day!

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