Suffering from Pain? How Quality Sleep and Vitamin D Can Help
Suffering from pain can be relentless and debilitating, particularly if you suffer from a chronic condition such as arthritis, fibromyalgia or menstrual cramps.
Back pain is another one.
Now researchers have found a link between vitamin D, sleep – and pain. The research was carried out by the Department of Psychobiology at the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil and published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
What conclusions did the researchers reach?
They said that while the role of vitamin D in bone metabolism is well established, evidence has now emerged that vitamin D also plays a part in other biological processes including sensory signals and sleep regulation. At the same time, it is well known that pain leads to sleep disturbance.
The researchers looked at recent studies that examined the links between vitamin D, sleep and pain. They recommended that health professionals should take these three components into consideration when treating their patients who suffer from painful conditions.
In effect, it was time to start thinking out of the box.
Dr. Monica Levy Andersen (senior researcher) said “We can hypothesize that suitable vitamin D supplementation combined with sleep hygiene may optimize the therapeutic management of pain-related diseases, such as fibromyalgia.”
The use of pain medication
Pain currently affects more people in the USA than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. Pain is the most common reason why USA citizens seek medical help.
In fact, it would seem that Americans are in more pain than any other population around the world, consuming 80% of the global opioid supply. And yet experts say most of those prescriptions are unnecessary. Although they use that 80%, the United States makes up only 4.6% of the world’s population. Opioids are dangerous and addictive.
Vitamin D can reduce pain in two ways
One is through its influence on sleep while the other is through its effect on inflammation.
The researchers classified pain into three main types:
- Nociceptive (arising from injury or damage to tissue and detected by sensory neurons)
- Neuropathic (arising from disease or injury of the nervous system) and
- Pain that has an emotional origin
The researchers reviewed many relevant and recent studies that pointed to a similar beneficial link between vitamin D and pain and proposed a working hypothesis for further research which suggested that “chronic pain and sleep disorders share a bi-directional relationship, in which vitamin D deficiency may play an important role.”
In the meantime, concluding that taking vitamin D supplements, along with good quality sleep, could well improve the effectiveness of pain management approaches used to treat a range of conditions.
My own experience
I can vouch on the value of having good vitamin D levels for managing pain. This was when I fractured my leg last year and ended up in hospital for ten days with complicated surgery. And yet I never suffered from any pain right from the time of my accident until the fracture had healed. I have my vitamin D levels tested every year and I work to maintain these levels at 55 ng/ml – and yet when I was tested a couple of months after my accident, my level had reduced to 50 ng/ml in spite of maintaining the same supplementation. I am convinced that the lower level meant the healing process had used up some of the vitamin D while helping with pain relief.
And because I never suffered from any pain nor did I have to resort to pain medication, I slept well throughout.
Vitamin D and its apparent connection with pain management is just one more benefit in the long, long list of how having good levels of vitamin D leads to our well being and good health.