Fibromyalgia and Sleep Issues: Treatment and Causes

Many fibromyalgia sufferers complain of trouble sleeping because of the pain and general discomfort they feel on account of their pain disorder. The typical problems fibromyalgia patients experience include insomnia, frequent awakenings, and difficulty falling asleep.

What often happens, is that fibromyalgia sufferers frequently awaken, but they don’t remember it- which means that they are not getting enough deep sleep.

Another layer is that many fibromyalgia patients also experienced sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Restless legs syndrome refers to a neurological disorder that is typified by a compulsion to move your legs while you are at rest. It has been found to be more common among fibromyalgia sufferers then the general population.

Fibromyalgia sleep research

  1. 75% of fibromyalgia sufferers report sleep problems.
  2. The most frequent and common complaint is feeling refreshed from sleep.
  3. Researchers demonstrated that fibromyalgia sufferers experience less deep sleep, more stages of light sleep and increased arousals during the night.
  4. Lyrica, an approved drug for fibromyalgia, is able to increase deep sleep in fibromyalgia patients.
  5. Sodium oxidase is a narcolepsy drug that works to increase deep sleep. Unfortunately, it has not been approved by the FDA for use in fibromyalgia patients.
  6. One interesting sleep study examined healthy sleepers- they had their sleep disrupted every night for 7 to 14 days. The resulting symptoms were indistinguishable from fibromyalgia!

How to treat fibromyalgia-related sleep problems

Focusing on improving your sleep hygiene can help you to better manage your fibromyalgia and that in turn improve your sleep quality. Improved sleep quality can help to eradicate fibro fog, which is the catchall term that describes cognitive difficulties that are associated with fibromyalgia.

Examine some of the following strategies to see if they make sense for you:

  • Keep a sleep diary– document how you slept the night before. Keep track of the quality of your sleeping experience you might be able to identify triggers that have caused you to experience disrupted sleep. Once you’ve kept up this running document for a couple of weeks you might be able to discern patterns that will help you to remedy your fibromyalgia-related sleep problems.
  • Stick to a regular schedule– try to wake up the same time each morning. Having a routine arousal time strengthens circadian cycling.
  • Regular exercise can help to promote sleep quality.
  • Don’t oversleep make sure you sleep only as much and you need to feel refreshed. If you spend too much time in bed this actually contributes to disruptive and shallow sleep patterns.
  • If your bedroom is too noisy at night because of some environmental factors take a look into how you can sound proof it.
  • Stop napping during the day– if you not too much it will likely have a negative effect on your nighttime sleeping behaviors.
  • If your bedroom is too warm at night, you may want to consider cooling it down a bit-this will help to improve the durability of your sleep.
  • Stay away from alcohol or caffeine– both of these can disrupt sleep.
  • Relaxation strategies like meditation, massage, deep breathing exercises all can help to put you into a peaceful mind state conducive to sleep.

Fibromyalgia sleep resources

Fibromyalgia medicine and sleep quality

Medicine that treats depression and pain can also help to improve your sleep situation. Fibromyalgia drugs like Cymbalta or Lyrica are both available if you have been diagnosed. Pain relievers, antidepressants as well as muscle relaxers are also effective ways of managing symptoms and potentially improving the quality of your sleep.

Final thoughts

Sleep disturbances are incredibly common in fibromyalgia patients. The effects of sleep disturbance can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms and as one research study demonstrated actually created the appearance of fibromyalgia symptoms in otherwise healthy people.

If you are experiencing sleep problems because of your fibromyalgia, it makes sense to consult with your physician to discuss your options.

While medication might be able to help you, it is typically not a permanent solution. The best thing you can do is to proactively manage the disorder as well as make an effort to increase your sleep hygiene. Try keeping a sleep journal, observing more regular sleep habits, explore relaxation strategies and it is likely that you will begin to enjoy an improved quality of sleep.

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