The relationship between sleep and opioids in chronic pain patients
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Behavioral Medicine | Uitgave 3/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
Background. Sleep problems are common among chronic pain patients who take opioids. There are documented effects of opioids on sleep architecture; however, the long-term effects of opioids on sleep remain unknown. This study examined whether opioid-naïve participants have better sleep quality than current and previous chronic users of opioids. We also explored whether sleep differed between methadone and buprenorphine users, and whether amount of time since abstaining from opioids was associated with sleep quality. Method. Participants were 120 people with chronic pain (84.2% Caucasian, Mage = 42.0 years, SD = 11.44). They were in one of four groups of 30 participants each: (1) current users of methadone for opioid use disorder (OUD); (2) current users of buprenorphine for OUD; (3) a history of medication-assisted therapy for OUD but currently opioid-abstinent for at least 6 months; (4) those who have less than one month of cumulative lifetime opioids (opioid-naïve group). Only participants in group 1 and group 2 were taking opioids during the time of the study. Participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the SF-36. Results. A MANCOVA revealed that all three groups with current or previous opioid use (i.e., groups 1–3) differed significantly from the opioid-naïve group (group 4) on sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep disturbances, and daytime dysfunction after controlling for sleep medications (all p < .05). For group 1 (methadone users), 2 (buprenorphine users), and 3 (prolonged abstinence), there were no statistically significant differences between each group. There was also a significant relationship between opioid-abstinent weeks and sleep disturbances in the opioid-abstinent group (r = − 0.604, p < .001). Discussion. The results of this study suggest that opioids interfere with sleep quality, even after months of abstention. Further research into the long-term effects of opioids is warranted and may contribute further to the importance of addressing sleep problems in this population.