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Being a night owl, I was joking around with a friend of mine that dentists like to schedule morning sessions to kick up a notch on the torture factor.

However, someone mentioned that pain tolerances are actually lower in the morning.

Is there any evidence for this?

Why would pain tolerance be lower in the morning than in the afternoon? Shouldn't it be the opposite, since your nerves are all rested, and more ready to take the beating of the day to come?

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  • Is there any reason at all why it should change during the day?
    – Lagerbaer
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 18:59
  • @Lagerbaer think about weightlifting or exercise. It will be much more painful if you're cold (you haven't warmed up). The body is perhaps not prepared for it.
    – whirlwin
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 19:15
  • But that is not a matter of nerves, more of blood circulation in your muscles
    – Lagerbaer
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 22:08
  • Notable claim: US News and World Report (actually claims the opposite).
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 15:24

1 Answer 1

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No.

There are different pain measures approached in a trial by Joshua Aviram, Tamar Shochat, Dorit Pud in their study of 2015. Pain relating to heat, to cold and to mechanical stress (eg. lifting weights).

It was found that heat and cold pain was better tolerated in the morning while mechanical pain showed no significant difference:

Pain scores varied significantly in six pain parameters during the day. Specifically, lower pain scores were found in the morning for cold pain threshold (in seconds and in °C), cold pain intensity, cold pain tolerance, heat pain threshold and intensity. There were no significant diurnal differences in the mechanical evoked pain parameters or in either of the "dynamic" pain paradigms.

By way of explanation, it is suggested that hormone levels play a part:

The results of this study may be partially explained by a potential analgesic effect of some hormones known to have diurnal variation (e.g., melatonin and cortisol).

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