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Living With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

Lifestyle changes and the right medications can help ease fatigue and restless sleep from fibromyalgia.

Living With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

Sleeping pills aren't the answer, says Rose. They are not intended for chronic long-term use.

Indeed, living with fibromyalgia is more than just popping a pill, says Martin Grabois, MD, chairman of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "A good deal is self-treatment. Patients have to be active, not passive."

First step: Patients may need to be checked for symptoms of snoring and sleep-related breathing problems. Sleep apnea, respiratory problems, allergies, and big tonsils or tongue are among the possibilities, Rose tells WebMD. "A lot of those things can be corrected."

What you can do. Lifestyle changes -- cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking -- may be necessary to improve sleep. Sleep habits may need to change. To make your bedroom more sleep-friendly, it's important to:

  • Limit noise, light, and other stimuli (like pets).
  • Keep the room temperature and bedding comfortable.
  • Do something relaxing before bed, like listening to music or reading.
  • Turn the alarm clock so it's not facing you.

If you're having trouble getting to sleep, get up and do something restful in another room, Rose advises. "Don't lie in bed, worrying and stressing. Get up, go to the other room. When you're calmer, relaxed, feel tired, go back to bed."

Don't nap. Make sure your sleep time follows a regular schedule, she adds. "A lot of patients have circadian rhythm problems. Napping can throw you off. Any sleep during the daytime will be taken from your sleep at night."

Reduce stress. Anything that reduces stress -- yoga, Pilates, meditation -- will help you sleep better, says Rose. It will also help normalize heart rate and blood pressure, so you feel better. Psychological therapy, relaxation exercises, visualization, meditation, and biofeedback can help ease anxiety, tension, and stress.

Start stretching. Several times a day, it's important to give tight muscles a good stretch. Before you get out of bed in the morning, start with stretching: move your head and neck, and you're your shoulders up and down. Make stretching a ritual. A warm bath can make the stretch more comfortable.

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