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How good sleep helps chronic pain sufferers

Researchers have suggested that chronic pain sufferers could be kept physically active by improving the quality of their sleep.

The study found that sleep was a worthy target for treating chronic pain and not only as an answer to pain-related insomnia.

Study lead-author Dr Nicole Tang said engaging in physical activity is a key treatment process in pain management. Very often, clinicians would prescribe exercise classes, physiotherapy, walking and cycling programmes as part of the treatment, but who would like to engage in these activities when they feel like a zombie? Dr Tang and study co-author Dr Adam Sanborn examined the day-to-day association between night-time sleep and daytime physical activity in chronic pain patients.


Tang said that the research points to sleep as not only an answer to pain-related insomnia but also as a novel method to keep sufferers physically active, opening a new avenue for improving the quality of life of chronic pain sufferers.

The study saw chronic pain patients wear an accelerometer that measured motor activity to monitor their physical activity round the clock for a week in their usual sleeping and living environment. Additionally, they gave ratings of their sleep quality, pain intensity and mood using a mobile electronic diary every morning on waking.

Researchers used the time-specific data to determine, for individual patients, whether the quality of their sleep had an impact on how physically active they were the following day.Multilevel models for each of the predictors were fit, and the only reliable predictor of physical activity was sleep quality.

Chronic stress in early life linked to anxiety in adulthood

Researchers have suggested that chronic stress in early life causes anxiety, aggression in adulthood.

A research team led by Associate Professor Grigori Enikolopov of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) conducted experiments designed to assess the impacts of social stress upon adolescent mice, both at the time they are experienced and during adulthood.

These experiments showed that in young mice chronic social defeat induced high levels of anxiety helplessness, diminished social interaction and ability to communicate with other young animals. Stressed mice also had less new nerve-cell growth (neurogenesis) in a portion of the hippocampus known to be affected in depression: the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus.

A group of young mice was also exposed to social stress, but was then placed for several weeks in an unstressful environment. Following this “rest” period, these mice, were tested in the same manner as the other cohort.


In this second, now-adult group, most of the behaviors impacted by social defeat returned to normal, as did neurogenesis, which retuned to a level seen in healthy controls.However, in these resilient mice, the team measured two latent impacts on behavior. As adults they were abnormally anxious and aggressive.

Public smoking bans lead to reduction in asthma

Researchers have revealed that rates of both preterm birth and hospital admissions for asthma were reduced by 10 per cent after laws that prohibited smoking in public places were implemented.

Researchers found that the introduction of new laws that ban smoking in public places in North America and Europe has been followed by a decrease in rates of premature births and hospital visits for asthma attacks in children. They analysed 11 studies conducted in North America and Europe that included more than 2.5 million births and approximately 250,000 asthma-related hospital visits.

While the impact of anti-smoking laws varies between countries, the overall impact on child health is positive. Data shows that rates of both preterm birth and hospital admissions for asthma were reduced by 10 per cent following the prohibition of smoking in public places.

This research demonstrates the potential that smoke-free legislation offers to reduce preterm births and childhood asthma attacks. The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question.

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