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Fibromyalgia Health Center

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Fibromyalgia and Sleep

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Are you having trouble sleeping because you have fibromyalgia? Most people with the disease complain of trouble sleeping. No matter how long they sleep, it is rarely restful. Here's some information that can help you get a better night's sleep.

What Sleep Problems Are Common With Fibromyalgia?

Sleep problems with fibromyalgia include insomnia or difficulty falling asleep as well as frequent awakenings that you can remember the next day. An even more common problem is awakenings that you don't remember but that definitely interrupt your "deep" sleep. Also, other sleep disorders -- such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea -- may be associated with fibromyalgia.

People with fibromyalgia talk about waking up day after day feeling exhausted with no energy. Usually, they feel more tired in the morning, and many go back to sleep during the day to ease their fatigue. Also, it's common for people with fibromyalgia to have great difficulty concentrating during the day, a condition called "fibro fog."

Pain or other symptoms of fibromyalgia such as depression and anxiety can also contribute to sleep problems.

Is Restless Legs Syndrome Related to Fibromyalgia?

Restless legs syndrome is a neurologic disorder characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs at rest. Restless legs syndrome is more common among those who have fibromyalgia.

There is treatment for restless legs syndrome, so talk to your doctor if you have this problem. Treatment may also help your fibromyalgia symptoms.

Are There Sleep Strategies to Help People With Fibromyalgia?

Establishing better sleep hygiene can help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Improving your sleep may help decrease your pain, fatigue, and "fibro fog." Try the following strategies and see if they help your sleep. In addition, ask your doctor about a sleeping pill that's safe and effective to get your body back on a restful sleep regimen.

  • Sleep only as much as needed to feel refreshed and healthy the following day, not more. Curtailing the time in bed seems to solidify sleep. Excessively long times in bed seem related to fragmented and shallow sleep.
  • Keep a sleep diary. Write down how you slept each night and triggers that may have interfered with your sleep. Reviewing your notes over several weeks may give you insight into your sleep problems.
  • Have a regular time to wake up each morning. A regular arousal time helps strengthen circadian cycling and leads to regular times of sleep onset.
  • Use relaxation therapies. A gentle massage, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques are all potentially beneficial to managing fibromyalgia and boosting restful sleep.
  • Exercise regularly (but avoid exercising three hours before bedtime). Exercise may exert its beneficial effect by promoting better-quality sleep.
  • Sound-attenuated bedrooms may help those who must sleep close to noise. Occasional loud noises -- for example, aircraft flyovers -- disturb sleep even in people who are not awakened and cannot remember them in the morning.
  • Avoid long daytime naps. Extensive napping can interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Keep the temperature in your room cool. An excessively warm room disturbs sleep.
  • Hunger may disturb sleep; a light snack of carbohydrates may help sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening. They both disturb sleep.

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