A chronic condition known as fibromyalgia, sometimes known as fibromyalgia syndrome, is characterized by intense feelings of pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints. In the United States, almost four million people live with fibromyalgia. Patients can treat and manage their symptoms2 by medication, treatment, and dietary modifications even though the cause of this disorder isn’t understood.
Sleep problems are typical fibromyalgia symptoms. A vicious cycle of pain and poor sleep develops for a small number of people with the disease when their sleep patterns are disturbed. Fibromyalgia-related sleep issues can be resolved by establishing healthy sleep habits and practicing good sleep hygiene.
How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Sleep?
People with fibromyalgia are widely thought to have a lower stress-pain threshold3 than people without the condition, making them more sensitive to pain. “Atypical pain belief processing” describes this. This assertion is supported by neuroimaging studies, which track similar brain activation in fibromyalgia patients and healthy, unaffected adults.
Two common symptoms of fibromyalgia include weariness during the day and sleep that is not restorative. According to some polysomnographic data, individuals with the condition enjoy wakefulness at some point during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phases of the sleep cycle and end up getting much less slow-wave sleep as a result.
Sleep quality and the prevalence of fibromyalgia are correlated. Sleep deprivation can increase the intense feelings of pain and sensitivity brought on by fibromyalgia, just as uncomfortable symptoms can make it difficult for patients to get enough rest. Losing sleep can also make a person less sensitive to discomfort. Therefore, sleep deprivation or poor sleep hygiene may result in fibromyalgia symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals.
Although fibromyalgia can strike at any age, the majority of patients are middle-aged. In addition, between 80 and 90 percent of those who have fibromyalgia are female. Along with rheumatoid arthritis, spinal arthritis, and lupus, several illnesses can increase a person’s risk of getting fibromyalgia symptoms. In addition, fibromyalgia has been linked to the two sleep disorders known as stressed legs syndrome and insomnia.
Insomnia and fibromyalgia.
A sleep problem called insomnia is characterized by persistent trouble falling or staying asleep despite attempts and opportunities to obtain enough rest each night. People who experience insomnia also benefit from daytime side effects include exhaustion, mood swings, and a lack of drive and enthusiasm.
Fibromyalgia patients typically experience insomnia. Typically, indicators for a fibromyalgia diagnosis include exhaustion, non-restorative sleep, and insomnia. Insomnia can increase fibromyalgia symptoms since it might lower your pain threshold.
Patients with insomnia may potentially benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), a dependent and evidence-based treatment approach that identifies the ideas, emotions, and behaviors that might be causing their symptoms. According to a recent study, CBT-I can slow or reverse the grey matter atrophy5 that occurs in the primary anxious system in fibromyalgia patients, a problem that is not uncommon.
Another study6 examined the impact of sleep medications on severe fibromyalgia pain. In comparison to those who received a placebo, fibromyalgia patients who were given suvorexant, a drug approved for the treatment of insomnia, slept longer and experienced less pain the following day.
We advise discussing CBT-I, medications, and other treatment options with your doctor if you have fibromyalgia and insomnia to see if they can help you manage your symptoms.
Restless Legs Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
The sensorimotor disorder known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is characterized by a strong urge to move or alter the legs, which is frequently accompanied by unpleasant sensations.
RLS sufferers typically experience the worst symptoms while lying down or sitting during the night or late at night. The discomfort can be quickly relieved by stretching or walking, but symptoms frequently return as soon as the person’s body begins to relax once more.
Studies demonstrate a consistent connection between RLS and fibromyalgia. Some people may be misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia after exhibiting RLS symptoms or vice versa because both disorders are linked to sensory abnormalities. Treating the disorder’s secondary causes can lessen symptoms in a small number of RLS patients.
Sleep Advice for Fibromyalgia Patients
Whether or not they have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, people with fibromyalgia frequently experience sleep issues. Managing fibromyalgia symptoms is essential, but additional steps these people can take to guarantee a restful night’s sleep include:
Establish a Sleep Schedule: Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends, involves going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This enables you to get enough sleep each night, which in turn gives your body the time it needs to heal physically and emotionally. You must limit your intake of coffee and refrain from taking long naps during the day in order to follow this schedule. Smoking is a natural stimulant that can interfere with sleep, therefore people with fibromyalgia should remember to stop doing it.
Exercise frequently: Exercise has the dual effects of improving sleep and reducing fibromyalgia symptoms. However, lack of sleep can make you less motivated to work out frequently. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule will help ensure adequate sleep and a reduction in uncomfortable sensations.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation places an emphasis on the value of being present in the moment, which can help people be more attentive as they go about their days and deal with challenging situations. One study investigated the effects of mindfulness meditation techniques on people with fibromyalgia. Researchers found that those with fibromyalgia who used this type of meditation reported improvements in regular sleep quality. According to several other studies, mindfulness meditation can help with pain relief as well, but more study is needed to support this claim.
Consider Vitamin D Supplements: Some researchers have shown a connection between vitamin D insufficiency and sleep issues, and individuals with fibromyalgia commonly have nutrient D levels that are below average. On their own, vitamin D pills can alleviate the fibromyalgia condition’s severe pain. Additionally, one study discovered that vitamin D supplementation worked well in relieving painful symptoms and improving sleep quality for those with fibromyalgia who were taking the antidepressant Trazadone. Find out the best options for you by speaking with your doctor or healthcare provider about the connection between fibromyalgia and a vitamin D deficiency.