New American research has found that for patients who suffer from sleep deprivation before surgery, caffeine before the operation could be an alternative way to reduce post-operative pain associated with a lack of sleep.
Previous research has shown that a lack of sleep both pre- and post-op can worsen pain after surgery. This new study from the Department of Anesthesiology at Michigan Medicine set out to see if there were any interventions that could help minimize the effect of sleep loss and reduce the severity of pain experienced after surgery.
However, as caffeine blocks the actions of the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter adenosine, causing us to feel more awake, the team proposed that caffeine might counteract the negative impact of sleep deprivation on surgical pain.
The team used a rat model of surgical pain to test whether sleep deprivation before surgery would increase postoperative pain, and whether being given caffeine pre-emptively, before the sleep deprivation, would block the increase in postoperative pain caused by this lack of sleep.
Vanini explained that caffeine's positive effect may be due to its role in blocking neurochemical changes caused by sleep deprivation in the brain areas that control sleep and wakefulness, and are connected to major pain-related areas.
"These results are relevant because sleep disorders and insufficient sleep are highly prevalent problems in our society," he added. "Additionally, often times patients travel long distances during the night or early morning before being admitted into the hospital for elective surgery. In one way or another, most patients do not get adequate sleep before surgery."
The results are online in the journal Sleep.