A diagnosis of fibromyalgia doesn't happen quickly. It is a chronic condition that brings a lot of symptoms along with it, which can be common with other health issues as well. Typically, it begins with fatigue and widespread musculoskeletal pain, brain fog, and tender points in the body.
Fibromyalgia and sleep issues go hand-in-hand for many fibromyalgia patients. When you combine fatigue, pain, and insomnia, quality of life can be greatly diminished. Not getting proper sleep can also contribute to the symptoms.
Let's dive deeper into the connection of fibromyalgia and sleep issues and some ways to manage them.
One of the major symptoms of fibromyalgia is the inability to fall asleep. Insomnia is a difficult symptom because you can't fall asleep no matter how tired you are. Many fibromyalgia patients also find that when they do fall asleep, they can’t stay asleep. This can be caused by pain, discomfort, or a heightened awareness of sensory stimuli like light, noise and temperature.
Once you fall asleep and get the 7 to 9 hours that humans require every night, many fibromyalgia patients wake up as tired as they were before falling asleep. The reason is that even though they may be sleeping for a sufficient amount of time to get rest, sleep quality for those with fibromyalgia is typically poor. A restful sleep restores the body and gives it the strength and energy it needs to take on a new day. When the body lacks restorative sleep, health deteriorates.
If you have sleep apnea and fibromyalgia, it can exacerbate fatigue and any other symptoms. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes breathing to pause during sleep. Not only is this dangerous for obvious reasons, but it also does not allow the body and mind to get the proper rest they need.
The first thing typical of fibromyalgia is the widespread pain. It is very difficult to fall asleep when you are in so much discomfort. Pain can also cause you to wake up during the night. Being uncomfortable does not allow the body to relax enough to fall asleep.
Light, noise, and temperature affect those with fibromyalgia differently, contributing to sleep issues. This heightened sensitivity can make sleep quite elusive and prevent you from relaxing and falling asleep.
Everyday life can be stressful. Add the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia into the mix, and you have a perfect storm of stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. This impacts daily life and interferes with sleep.
Medications to manage the pain or fatigue of fibromyalgia can have side effects that affect sleep. For example, many fibromyalgia patients take medications to alleviate feeling constantly tired. However, since these medications help with fatigue, they can also keep you up at night.
There are ways to help relieve fibromyalgia and sleep issues. As with many health tips, what works for some may not work for someone else. However, the following techniques have helped fibromyalgia patients control their sleeping issues.
Regulate your body's internal clock. It's simple to do and a tried-and-true way to combat insomnia. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will train your body and brain to recognize an established bedtime and help you fall asleep.
Your bedroom should be dark and quiet. A comfortable mattress and pillows are the best investment you can make. Also, make sure the thermostat in your bedroom is set to a comfortable temperature. If the room is too hot or too cold, it won’t help you sleep.
Talk to your doctor about different ways to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. Your healthcare practitioner can help you develop a pain management plan and suggest ways to help manage your pain and help you get the rest you need.
Deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation are some of the methods that have been shown to reduce stress. This will, in turn, promote better sleep.
Limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, especially a few hours before bedtime. Many things contain these stimulants, so checking ingredients is a wise idea. Tea, chocolate, and other bedtime snacks could contribute to your insomnia.
It's important to stay active for overall health, and it will certainly help with sleep issues. Plus, the benefits of exercise for pain relief are very beneficial for fibromyalgia patients. However, stay away from exercising too close to bedtime. While you may think it will make you tired and fall asleep faster and deeper, it can have a counteractive effect, overstimulate your mind, and keep you awake.
This type of therapy has been proven very effective for pain and sleep issues associated with fibromyalgia.
Talk to your healthcare provider and work closely with them to address any symptoms you face with fibromyalgia. Remember, your body and mind need rest to function properly and stay healthy.
Your doctor can help you develop a plan that may include lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.
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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...
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