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Elevated pain sensitivity is associated with reduced REM sleep in females with comorbid temporomandibular disorder and insomnia.

Pain Medicine 2024 March 29
OBJECTIVE: Patients with chronic pain disorders, including Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs) endorse high levels of sleep disturbances, frequently reporting reduced sleep quality. Despite this, little is known about the effect that daytime pain has on the microstructure and macro-architecture of sleep. Therefore, we aimed to examine the extent to which daytime pain sensitivity, measured using quantitative sensory testing (QST), is associated with objective sleep parameters the following night, including sleep architecture and power spectral density, in women with TMD.

METHODS: : 144 females with myalgia and arthralgia by examination using the Diagnostic criteria for TMD completed a comprehensive QST battery consisting of General Pain Sensitivity, Central Sensitization Index, and Masseter Pressure Pain Threshold assessments. Polysomnography (PSG) was collected the same night to measure sleep architecture and calculate relative power in delta, theta, alpha, sigma, and beta power bands.

RESULTS: Central Sensitization (B= -3.069, P = 0.009), General Pain Sensitivity Indices (B= -3.069, P = 0.007), and Masseter Pain Pressure Threshold (B = 0.030, P = 0.008) were significantly associated with lower REM% both before and after controlling for covariates. Pain sensitivity measures were not significantly associated with relative power in any of the spectral bands, nor with any other sleep architectural stages.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that higher generalized pain sensitivity, masseter pain pressure threshold, as well as central sensitization were associated with a lower percentage of REM in participants with myofascial pain and arthralgia of the masticatory system. These findings provide an important step toward understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of how chronic pain interacts with sleep physiology.

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