One of the most common symptoms of the condition of fibromyalgia are disturbances in sleep.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that has an effect on the brain and spinal cord and results in symptoms that manifest as fatigue, pain, and difficulty with concentration- as well as problems with sleep.
In the past few years, medical research has revealed that treating sleep disturbances related to fibro can help reduce the overall symptoms of fibro as well.
Fibro Sleep Disturbances: 7 Things You Should Know
1- It is thought that somewhere between 2-10 percent of the world’s population suffers from the condition of fibro.
2- Approximately ¾ of individuals with the condition of fibro report disturbances in their sleep- the most common being not able to get restful, restorative sleep.
3- Insomnia is extremely common in fibro- this is the inability to fall and stay asleep. This can be treated with good sleep hygiene and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.
4- Individuals with fibro have an increase in the lighter sleep stages, a decrease in deep sleep stages, and wake more frequently in the night than others. Many of the medications for fibro help to increase the deep sleep stages.
5- Studies have shown that disrupting the sleep of normal sleepers every night for 7-14 days does result in symptoms that are exactly like those of an individual with fibro.
6- Restless leg syndrome has been indicated in over 50 percent of individuals with the condition of fibro, as opposed to only 7 percent in the general population.
Individuals with RLS and fibro report an improvement in symptoms and sleep when the RLS is treated.
7- One study revealed that sleep apnea in those individuals with fibro has been found in approximately 61 percent of men and 32 percent of women. Treating sleep apnea can help to improve the fatigue and pain that is associated with fibro.
Do You Have Trouble Sleeping?
Chances are if you have the condition of fibro, you also have many problems with sleeping- whether that means you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep.
Many people with this condition complain that they are unable to achieve restful sleep. Even if you sleep a lot, it’s not at all restful. Following are some tips to help you get more restful, restorative sleep.
Common Fibro Sleep Problems
Some of the most common fibro-associated sleep problems include the condition of insomnia, which describes a difficulty with falling or staying asleep.
You most likely are awakened frequently during the night and are able to remember it the next day. On the other hand, you will more frequently experience awakenings that you don’t remember the following day- but you know that they definitely affected your deep sleep stages.
Other common sleep disorders associated with the condition of fibro include sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, also called RLS.
After a period of sleep, individuals with the condition of fibro report waking up feeling exhausted and they have little to no energy.
Typically, they feel more exhausted early in the morning and will typically go back to sleep to try to ease the problem of fatigue.
In addition, due to all of this, “fibro fog”, which causes difficulty with concentration, is very common in those individuals.
Another major contributor to sleep problems is the pain and other symptoms associated with the condition of fibro including anxiety and depression.
Fibro and Restless Leg Syndrome
The condition of restless leg syndrome, commonly called RLS, is a neurological one. This condition is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs when at rest and is much more common in individuals who have the condition of fibro.
However, don’t worry, there are treatments available for the condition of RLS- so speak with your physician if you are experiencing this. In addition, as a bonus, treating your RLS can also help with your overall fibro symptoms.
Tips to Help with Sleep
One of the best ways to manage your symptoms of fibro is to establish better sleep habits. Improving these habits can help to decrease “fibro fog”, fatigue, and pain.
Following are a few strategies you can use to help you to get more restful and restorative sleep. In addition, speak with your physician about taking a sleep aid that can help you to transition to a restful, restorative sleep regimen.
1- Sleep only as much as you need to- no more. When you limit the amount of time you are spending in bed, you increase your sleep quality. Spending too much time in bed seems to be directly related to shallow, fragmented sleep.
2- Keep a diary. Take the time each morning to write down how you were able to sleep the night before and what may have interrupted your sleep. Then, when you go back and review these notes after a few weeks, it can give you a clue as to what your triggers are and what you can do to control them.
3- Wake up at the same time every morning. This will help to strengthen your sleep periods, as well as can help you to fall asleep better each night.
4- Use some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, massage, and others. These can be helpful for treating the symptoms of fibro as well as increase restful sleep.
5- Get adequate exercise- but not too close to bedtime. Exercise increases serotonin, which can help to increase your quality of sleep.
6- Avoid taking long naps during the day, as excessive napping can keep you from sleeping at night.
7- Keep your room cool- warm temps in your room can interrupt your sleep.
8- Hunger can keep you from sleeping restfully, so a light snack before bed may help increase sleep quality.
9- Both alcohol and caffeine can cause disturbances in sleep- so avoid both in the evenings.
Learning ways that you can treat your overall fibro symptoms can help to reduce your sleep difficulties.
Medications have been approved by the FDA for treating the signs and symptoms of fibro.
In addition, there are some medications that are used off-label for the treatment of fibro. Speak with your physician about these.