Healthy Living

The Top Tips to Improve Sleep with Fibromyalgia

The Top Tips to Improve Sleep with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a central pain syndrome that exhibits symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, mood changes, and memory problems. It is a chronic health problem, which makes it difficult for many people with fibromyalgia to sleep soundly throughout the night. The combination of sleep disturbance and pain makes it absolutely and utterly exhausting for patients. It's a cycle - the pain makes it more difficult to sleep and being sleep deprived makes the pain that much worse. 

Studies that show what it is like to sleep with fibromyalgia

A study published in 1975 by Dr. Harvey Moldofsky, a psychiatrist at the University of Toronto, discussed the relationship between fibromyalgia and disruptions in sleep patterns. Naturally, researchers found out that the pain brought by fibromyalgia causes sleep disturbances.

In other studies, such as one by A.M. Drewes, links between fibromyalgia and a deep-level sleep abnormality or the delta sleep were found. Abnormal deep sleep waves in the brain are found in patients with fibromyalgia. Patients with this disorder usually talk about how they feel awake all night and experience only a shallow level of sleep instead of feeling restful when they wake up.

People with fibromyalgia fail to reach the level of sleep that allows the body to restore itself during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Aside from waking up without feeling rested, other patients also experience muscle fatigue or muscle aches when they wake up, as if they had been moving around and exercising the whole night.

The problem with not getting a deep-level sleep is that your body fails to replenish and repair itself. Fibromyalgia patients usually have low levels of Somatostatin, a hormone that is produced when your body reaches deep sleep. Somatostatin is needed to help maintain healthy muscles and soft tissues. Over time, if people with this disorder do not get enough amount of deep sleep, their bodies will eventually have less energy to function well due to the inability to repair and replenish.

Despite all these findings, there are still only a few things published to clarify and establish the association between pain due to fibromyalgia and sleep issues.  There have been studies on the sleep patterns of patients who experienced pain after a surgery showing a decrease in REM sleep and an increase in sleep disturbances. As they recover, their sleep patterns also begin to normalize.

In another study, a group of middle-aged, healthy women was deprived of their slow-wave sleep. This was done for three days and had caused lower pain tolerance and high levels of fatigue and discomfort. This study suggested that sleep disturbances could have a significant role in developing fibromyalgia.

Tips for patients to have enough sleep

People with fibromyalgia experience pain even during their sleep. Not getting a good sleep contributes to the other symptoms of fibromyalgia, so it is vital that patients take the necessary steps to help them get better sleep.

Read on to learn the tips we recommend for fibromyalgia patients who are having trouble sleeping.