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Why sleep is the best painkiller

New research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, finds that sleep deprivation increases sensitivity to pain by numbing the brain's painkilling response.

One in 3 adults in the United States, or 35 percent of the adult population, do not get enough sleep.

The effects of sleep deprivation on the brain are numerous, from inducing an inebriation-like state of cognitive impairment to hindering our ability to learn and form new memories.

New research highlights another neurological effect of insufficient sleep: heightened sensitivity to pain.

A lack of sleep impairs the brain's natural mechanisms for relieving pain, finds the new study, which draws attention to potential links between the public health crises of sleep deprivation, chronic pain, and prescription opioid addiction.

In the U.S., over 20 percent of the population, or around 50 million adults, are living with chronic pain, according to recent estimates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that, on average, around 130 people in the U.S. die from an opioid overdose every day.

Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California in Berkeley carried out the study, together with doctoral candidate Adam Krause.

What is perimenopause?

For starters, many of us are confused about when this time in a woman's life actually occurs. According to the Mayo Clinic, perimenopause means "around menopause" and refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause (which only officially starts when a woman has gone a full year without a period).

This means that the symptoms we normally attribute to menopause—like hot flashes, irritability, anxiety, sleep problems, chills, and night sweats—are actually more symptoms of perimenopause.

This time in a woman's life isn't just hard for us to pin down—it's hard for doctors to define, too. According to Amy Shah, M.D., integrative medicine doctor, "Hormonal balance in general is an area that is not well-defined or treated in conventional medicine. There's no lab test that signals that you are in that stage of life, so it's subjective and also variable, meaning some people have much greater symptoms than others."

All of this is compounded by the fact that historically, women's health has taken a back seat in conventional medicine.

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