General Question

rebbel's avatar

Do painkillers do something for sleeping deep?

Asked by rebbel (28909points) November 11th, 2018

That is, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, these kinds of over-the-counter painkillers.
The reason I’m asking is because I have been known to sleep (pretty) well after I took some for, for instance, belly pain, or a headache.
I don’t know if it’s something in the meds, or if it’s some kind of placebo effect.
Anybody here that can shed some light?

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11 Answers

janbb's avatar

I have some pesky lower back aches and knee pains at times and if I take ibuprofen I do sleep better. Not sure if the pain meds have some sleep aid quality or if it is just the secession of discomfort.

canidmajor's avatar

I think so. Not by providing pharmaceutqical sleep aid, but by interrupting the pain responses. Unless the drug itself is a stimulant as well as a pain reliever, of course.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I hadn’t noticed this with OTC pain killers. But prescription pain meds will knock me out for sure. Next time I take some ibuprofen I’ll monitor myself.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Ibuprofen (as opposed to acetaminophen/tylenol) has muscle relaxing qualities in addition to pain relief qualities.

So it make sense that it would help sleep after taking ibuprofen—your body’s muscles are relaxing as a result of the pill.

zenvelo's avatar

In addition to what @elbanditoroso described as muscle relaxing effect being soporific, pain causes stress upon the body, which in turn causes the release of cortisol. Cortisol increases glycogen levels in the blood stream to heighten awareness and energy for response.

Get rid of pain, lower cortisol, sleep more easily.

Zaku's avatar

I agree with what everyone has said. People who are used to having pain and tension and the sleep that goes along with it, will tend to have a different sleep experience on pain medication and the various kinds of relaxation it provides, especially if they have built up fatigue from not sleeping well for a while due to pain and tension.

Jeruba's avatar

I take OTC generic ibuprofen at bedtime every night, and 4+ hours later I usually take some acetaminophen. I sleep more poorly if I don’t. The purpose is to take the edge off the chronic pain enough to let me get to sleep, but I think it does have a relaxing effect over and above that.

I used to take some fairly strong prescription pain meds at night. They definitely helped knock me out, but I don’t think they aided the quality of sleep, and they did leave me feeling hungover and struggling to get up in the morning, so I quit using them. I think the OTC meds do just as well for me, if not better. And I’m sure I’m better off without the other stuff.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Although some OTC pain med may cause drowsiness, many contain caffeine. Caffeine can help head aches, caused by constricted blood vessels. It does this by raising the heart rate, which forces vessels to open more, reliving the pain. Caffeine also gas a well known side effect of increasing alertness, and making one feel more awake.

I have an allergy to ibuprofen, so I can’t experiment with it like Dutch.

I would think it’s more like when you don’t feel well, your body wants to sleep, so it can try to fix things.

JLeslie's avatar

As people said about the muscle relaxing effect of ibuprofen, plus you’re in less pain, probably does contribute to better sleep.

Just remember, ideally you shouldn’t lie down immediately after taking ibuprofen. Take with plenty of water, and some food ideally, to protect against ulcers. I wound up in the emergency room, I still have the photos of the ulcers in my esophagus. To this day I take ibuprofen, and have never had a problem again, I’m just careful, and I only take the OTC smaller pills, Advil is best for me since it’s coated.

kritiper's avatar

They must, especially when used with certain other medical compounds.

rebbel's avatar

Very good info here, Jellies, in your answers.
Thanks a million!

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