Get Better Sleep When You Have Fibromyalgia

Enough of the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Problem is, that's among the hardest things to do.

One explanation for trouble sleeping is that, with fibromyalgia, the normal order of brain waves gets messed up. Deep sleep patterns are disrupted by brain waves that signal wakefulness, so you never really settle into good sleep.

So what can you do to get the rest you need?

Medication

Some fibro medicines target the pain keeping you up at night, and some may help with sleep quality. An extended-release version of the drug may do a better job easing pain so you can get more and better sleep.

But not everyone is helped, or helped enough, by medication.

Other Conditions

Many people with fibromyalgia have another sleep disorder. For more than half of them, it's restless legs syndrome (RLS). Having both conditions can make you sleepier during the day. Treating RLS can help.

Sleep apnea causes dangerous pauses in your breathing while you sleep. Because the sleep problems of people with fibromyalgia are so similar, researchers are looking into whether sleep apnea treatment helps, even without an apnea diagnosis.

Exercise

Regular exercise is an essential part of fibromyalgia treatment, but timing matters. Daytime workouts can improve nighttime sleep. But activity within 3 hours of bedtime could wind you up too much to fall asleep.

Workouts in a pool may feel less taxing because the water cushions your body.

The ancient mind-body practice of tai chi combines meditation with slow, gentle movements and deep breathing. It can all add up to better sleep quality, less pain, and lower stress.

Soothing Sounds

Listening to music before bed can enhance sleep. People with fibro in a 4-week study could adjust the sound and how long they listened, and replay it if they woke up during the night. Everyone heard the same mix: "Music to Promote Sleep" on the Sonic Aid label was chosen for its specific beats.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The brain is a powerful tool for wellness. The technique called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, teaches you to change thought patterns for the better.

Using CBT for fibro-related insomnia may improve alertness and thinking ability and lessen anxiety. It can be especially helpful if you're stuck in a negative thought spiral: Many people worry that they won't be able to sleep because of their pain, which in turn makes the pain worse so it's harder to sleep.

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Healthy Sleep Habits

When you see a sleep specialist for insomnia, you learn about good sleep hygiene, habits that help promote sleep. These very simple steps can help lessen pain and fatigue and improve your sleep quality.

Make sleep a priority, and set a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day, weekends included.

Create a tranquil bedroom environment. Loud noise, like a blaring TV, can worsen chronic pain. Keep the room dark, quiet, and cool. Treat yourself to a comfortable mattress and bedding.

Try to skip daytime naps, which can mess with nighttime sleep. If you must, snooze for no more than 60 minutes and get moving as soon as you wake up.

Steer clear of stimulants like coffee and tea as well as alcohol in the evening. You might want to cut off all liquids a few hours before bed so you won't have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Avoid evening activities that keep your brain buzzing, like working right up to bedtime, watching late-night TV, or even reading a thriller. Turn off all gadgets at least an hour before lights out. Then wind down with a warm bath or deep breathing.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 23, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

WomensHealth.gov: "Fibromyalgia."

Journal of Neurophysiology: "Thalamic mechanisms underlying alpha-delta sleep with implications for fibromyalgia."

Pain Practice: "The Effect of a Novel form of Extended-Release Gabapentin on Pain and Sleep in Fibromyalgia Subjects: An Open-Label Pilot Study."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia."

Mayo Clinic: "Fibromyalgia: Symptoms and Causes."

Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation: "Evaluation of restless legs syndrome in fibromyalgia syndrome: an analysis of quality of sleep and life."

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: "High Prevalence of Restless Legs Syndrome among Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Controlled Cross-Sectional Study."

National Sleep Foundation: "Fibromyalgia and Sleep."

New England Journal of Medicine: "A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia."

Pain Research and Management: "Music as a sleep aid in fibromyalgia."

UpToDate: "Treatment of fibromyalgia in adults not responsive to initial therapies."

Current Pain and Headache Reports: "Cognitive Impairment in Fibromyalgia."

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: "Development of the Pain-Related Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep (PBAS) Scale for the Assessment and Treatment of Insomnia Comorbid with Chronic Pain."

Pain Management: "How to manage fatigue in fibromyalgia: nonpharmacological options."

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