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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 continued...

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.

Exercise. Getting regular exercise is also important, Rose says. "Any time you have pain, insomnia, and fatigue, I always say exercise. Exercise has a profound effect on mood, weight, and fatigue. Water exercise is easier on joints, so it's a lot more tolerable for fibromyalgia patients."

Although physical therapy and exercise may be difficult, the short-term pain is a trade-off, she explains. "Even though you feel a lot of pain and discomfort, pushing yourself is important. Exercise helps reduce stress, and that helps sleep and reduces fatigue."

Pace yourself. Moderation is important if you have fibromyalgia, says Grabois. "When people feel good, then they tend to do too much -- then pay the price later. Others give up on exercise altogether, because they don't sleep well, feel fatigued, and exercise makes the fatigue worse."

Start with very low intensity exercise and build up very slowly, he advises. "I'm not saying run around the block three times. I'm saying walk around the block one time -- and do it on a regular basis, seven days a week."

With daily activities, it's good to set up a scheduled routine. Be careful about overdoing it, so you don't deplete your extra energy. Learning moderation is a skill that can help you get things done despite discomfort and fatigue.

Try medications. Antidepressants and other medications can help greatly in pain control, says Rose. "If your body is worn down, and you're in pain, it's something to consider. I tell people, you can always quit taking it. We can see if it helps."Anti-inflammatories and analgesics can also help.

The FDA has approved three drugs to treat fibromyalgia: Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella. Lyrica is an anti-epileptic drug. Cymbalta -- an antidepressant -- is in the category of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Savella is also an SNRI.

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