Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases, such as arthritis, suggest Brazilian researchers.
The theory, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, has been described as “exciting” by expert commentators.
“This research is very exciting and novel”
The study authors reviewed studies on the relationship between vitamin D levels, sleep and pain management for conditions including arthritis, menstrual cramps and chronic back pain.
They noted that previously published studies had shown that vitamin D can affect the body’s inflammatory response, which also alters pain sensation.
In addition, they highlighted that a link between sleep disturbances and pain had long been established, but that a role for vitamin D had not been fully investigated.
The new review indicated that vitamin D supplementation, combined with good sleep quality, could increase the effectiveness of pain management treatments for a diverse range of conditions.
This simple approach, if effective, could reduce the burden on health services and improve the lives of patients, said the researchers from the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.
The review pulled together the most relevant studies that have examined the role of vitamin D in pain-related conditions or sleep disturbances.
“It is necessary to understand the possible mechanisms involved in this relationship”
Analysis of the data indicated that vitamin D levels may have an important role in the relationship between pain and sleep, claimed the researchers.
They added that it further highlighted how important it was for health professionals to consider the “sleep-pain-vitamin D inter-relationship” in a variety of pain-related conditions.
Lead author Dr Monica Levy Andersen 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.
“It is necessary to understand the possible mechanisms involved in this relationship, including immunological and neurobiological pathways related to inter-relationship among sleep, vitamin D and pain”, she added.
Sof Andrikopoulos, an assistant professor at the University of Melbourne and editor of the Journal of Endocrinology, said: “This research is very exciting and novel.
“We are unravelling the possible mechanisms of how vitamin D is involved in many complex processes, including what this review shows – that a good night’s sleep and normal levels of vitamin D could be an effective way to manage pain,” he said.