Neurobiological mechanisms underlying the sleep-pain relationship in adolescence: A review

Jennaya Christensen, Melanie Noel, Richelle Mychasiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescence characterizes a period of significant change in brain structure and function, causing the neural circuitry to be particularly susceptible to the environment and various other experiences. Chronic pain and sleep deprivation represent major health issues that plague adolescence. A bidirectional relationship exists between sleep and pain; however, emerging evidence suggests that sleep disturbances have a stronger influence on subsequent pain than vice versa. The neurobiological underpinnings of this relationship, particularly during adolescence, are poorly understood. This review examines the current literature regarding sleep and pain in adolescence, with a particular focus on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying pain, sleep problems, and the neural circuitry that potentially links the two. Finally, a research agenda is outlined to stimulate future research on this topic. Given the high prevalence of these health issues during adolescence and the debilitating effects they inflict on nearly every domain of development, it is crucial that we determine the neurobiological mechanisms fundamental to this relationship and identify potential therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-413
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Development
  • HPA-axis
  • PFC
  • Sleep deprivation

Cite this