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Study: Poor sleep can lead to widespread pain

Wednesday - 2/19/2014, 8:57am  ET

Sleep.jpg
A bad night's sleep could mean bad things for your longterm pain. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON -- A bad night's sleep can do more than leave you feeling tired and cranky -- new research shows poor sleep can cause widespread pain.

Research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, which is a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, finds poor sleep is the strongest, independent factor making it more likely people older than 50 will develop widespread pain.

Anxiety, memory impairment and poor physical health among adults will increase the risk of widespread pain as well, according to the study.

Researchers collected data on pain, psychological and physical health and other factors from more than 4,300 adults over the age of 50 who were free of widespread pain at the start of the study. The researchers followed up with the participants three years later to ask them about their pain levels.

The research was led by Dr. John McBeth from the Arthritis Research UK Primarty Care Centre at Keele University.

"While [osteoarthritis] is linked to new onset of widespread pain, our findings also found that poor sleep, cognition, and physical and psychological health may increase pain risk," McBeth said in a news release.

Additionally, the study found that simply getting older does not play a role in the pain. Take away all the predictive factors for developing widespread pain that include non-restorative sleep, anxiety, and poor health and study authors say aging actually makes it less likely someone will develop widespread pain.

There may be a way to break the cycle of poor sleep and overall body pain: research shows "aerobic exercise improves fitness and reduces pain and fatigue, and should also improve sleep and wellbeing," says Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK commented in a news release.

Read more about the study on the Keele University website.

WTOP's Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow @kingWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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