Fibromyalgia is a kind of central pain syndrome. It is a chronic health condition that is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, widespread muscle pain, memory problems, and as well as mood changes. There are many people with fibromyalgia who complain suffering from lack of sleep, which is probably the most frustrating challenges of living with this condition.
Therefore, if you’re thinking if fibromyalgia affects sleep, it does. And today, we are going to share with you how fibromyalgia affects sleep and what people who suffers from it can do to cope with the condition.
Fibromyalgia and Sleep
People with fibromyalgia experiences widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints and as well as sleep problems and chronic daytime fatigue. Between 80% to 90% of people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia are middle-aged women, but it can also affect both sexes and people of all ages. It is estimated to affect between 2% to 6% of people worldwide.
The combination of pain and sleep disturbance is a double-edged sword for people with fibromyalgia. It’s because the pain they feel makes sleep more difficult and lack of sleep worsens pain. Medical researchers have long sought to explain the association of sleep disturbance and pain. Very little is known about it but there were a few key findings indicating that sleep and pain are linked intricately. One example is the study of patients experiencing pain after a surgery which show disturbed sleep, reduced rapid eye movement or REM sleep, and a normalization of sleep as recovery proceeds.
Those who have fibromyalgia can also experience an alteration in their patterns of slow wave sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep. There was a study done where the researchers selectively deprived a group of healthy middle-aged women of slow wave sleep for three days. The women, in response, showed a decreased tolerance for pain and increased levels of discomfort and fatigue. This result suggests that sleep disruption may play an important role in the development of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
There’s also a possibility to experience symptoms similar to fibromyalgia if you are suffering from sleep apnea. Aside from that, people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from different sleep disorders such as sleep disordered breathing. If you have fibromyalgia and you want to consult a doctor, it’s better to keep a sleep diary first so that your doctor will be able to check your sleeping patterns to see if it’s affected by your fibromyalgia.
How to Sleep Better When You Have Fibromyalgia
Getting enough and quality sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. However, that is one of the hardest thing to do for people who are suffering from it. It’s because when you have fibromyalgia, the normal order of your brain waves get messed up. Your deep sleep patterns are disrupted by brain waves that signal sleepiness that’s why you never really settle into good sleep. But no worries because there are things that you can try to get the rest that you need when you have fibromyalgia. Here are some of them:
Some of the medicines for fibromyalgia target the pain that keeps people up at night which may help in getting a quality sleep. However, not everyone us helped or helped enough by medication, but there’s no harm in going to the doctor to know if any medicines can help.
Exercising regularly is an essential part of treating fibromyalgia, but keep in mind that timing matters as well. Doing some daytime workouts can help improve nighttime sleep. However, doing exercises within three hours before your bedtime could wind you up too much, making it more difficult to sleep. You can also try meditating exercises like tai chi that practices slow, gentle movements and deep breathing that can add up to better sleep quality, less pain, and lower stress levels.
Listen to Soothing Sounds
Listening to soothing sounds like music before bed can help enhance sleep. People who have fibromyalgia could adjust the sound of the music they are listening to and how long they listened. If they woke up during the night, they could replay the music to be able to sleep again.
You can also try having some gentle massage, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques. These are all considered beneficial with respect to chronic pain management, therefore, they might also work in coping with fibromyalgia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most powerful tool for wellness is the brain. That’s why cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT can help people with fibromyalgia to change their thought patterns for the better. CBT can help improve alertness and thinking ability, as well as lessen anxiety of people with fibro-related insomnia. This therapy is especially good for people who worry that they will not be able to sleep because of their pain.
People with fibromyalgia should maintain a regular sleep schedule and get treatment for sleep disorders if necessary. There are many people with fibromyalgia who have another sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome or RLS and sleep apnea which can disrupt sleep even more that’s why it’s important if they can find treatments for these sleep disorders as well.
To be able to prioritize sleep, try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day even during weekends. Create a peaceful bedroom environment and comfortable beddings. Try to skip daytime naps as well because it can mess with nighttime sleep.
Fibromyalgia is indeed a tough condition to cope with because aside from pain, it also causes lack of sleep which has negative effects on our health as well. But by trying to prioritize sleep and doing some of the tips we shared, it is possible to be able to get a good night’s sleep even when you’re suffering from this condition. If you are having sleepless nights and you’re looking for some natural sleep aids, you can also check out our post on Sandalwood as a Sleep Aid and Other Natural Sleep Aids for options.