One of the most debilitating symptoms of Fibromyalgia is sleep disturbance/problems. Sleep problems are a common symptom of fibromyalgia. For some people with the disorder, sleep disturbances exacerbate their symptoms and lead them into a vicious cycle of pain and poor sleep. More than 90% of Fibromyalgia sufferers have difficulty experiencing the deep sleep a person needs to wake up feeling refreshed.
Some research even suggests that people with fibromyalgia are constantly aroused by bursts of “awake” brain activity, which limits the amount of time they spend in these critical deep stages of sleep. One study found that fibromyalgia patients experience at least twice as many arousals per hour as people without the disorder.
The lack of uninterrupted deep sleep may be the reason why people with fibromyalgia are also plagued by extreme daytime fatigue. In today’s world, many people complain of feeling tired, but the exhaustion associated with fibromyalgia is much more severe. Fibromyalgia patients report feeling as if their bodies have been completely drained of energy, which can lead to limited physical and mental functioning. This then causes the common complaint of many Fibro sufferers of “Fibro Fog.”
Pain and sleep problems frequently co-exist in a difficult cycle that can be tough to break. That’s true for everyone who experiences physical pain and discomfort. It’s particularly true for people with Fibromyalgia, as well as others with conditions that involve chronic pain.
According to the Sleep Foundation “Sleep and fibromyalgia share a bidirectional relationship. Just as painful symptoms can prevent patients from getting enough rest, sleep deprivation can exacerbate the widespread feelings of pain and tenderness brought on by fibromyalgia. Sleep loss can also lower a person’s pain threshold. As a result, lack of sleep or poor sleep quality may cause fibromyalgia symptoms to occur in otherwise healthy people.”
Pub Med point out that “sleep deprivation in healthy individuals can cause symptoms of fibromyalgia, including myalgia, tenderness and fatigue, suggesting that sleep dysfunction might be not only a consequence of pain, but also pathogenic.“
However, “practicing good sleep hygiene and adopting healthy sleep habits can alleviate fibromyalgia-related sleep issues.” Lockdown has shifted our routines, and routine is essential to sleep regulation and to the functioning of our internal body clocks. Some tips to ensure a good nights rest include –
- Get up and go to bed at the same time.
- Take daily exercise.
- Shun screens before bed.
- Avoid coffee after 2pm.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol.
- If you suffer from night sweats invest in a cooling blanket, or swap bedding for light sheets and a low tog duvet.
- Make sure you are sleeping on a good pillow.
- Make sure the temperature is near 65°F (18.3°C), give or take a few degrees, is ideal.
- Rest in bed if you wake.
- Practise mindfulness meditation.
- If you room is light invest in some black out curtains.
- Consider Vitamin D supplements as researchers have established a link between vitamin D deficiency and sleep problems.
- Download a sleep app.