Sleep affects fibro symptoms, and fibro symptoms affect your sleep.
One of the biggest disruptors of sleep is pain. Trouble sleeping is common among people with chronic back pain, period pain, endometriosis pain, and so on. People with fibromyalgia—a condition that causes chronic and widespread pain—are no exception to this sleep conundrum.
“Individuals who have fibromyalgia generally don’t sleep well because they have painful symptoms,” says Anita Gupta, DO, PharmD, pain specialist. “Many of them wake up stiff in the morning.”
In fact, a 2018 study of 326 patients with fibromyalgia found that an astounding 92 percent met the criteria for a sleep disorder. Additionally, those who reported the greatest number of fibromyalgia symptoms were more likely to have worse sleep quality.
Improving your fibromyalgia symptoms can positively impact your sleep (both the number of hours you sleep and your sleep quality). Additionally, improving your sleep can also reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms; it’s a reciprocal relationship.
Here are the tips that might help improve sleep with fibromyalgia, according to Dr. Gupta.
1. Take your medication.
Sticking to your pain medication regimen as instructed can keep painful symptoms at bay while you’re trying to relax and fall asleep. (Here are the medication options for fibromyalgia.)
Struggling with your meds? Here are ways to remember to take your medicine, and find out ways to ease your worries about side effects here. And most importantly, talk to your doctor about problems you’re having with your medication regimen.
2. Stick to healthy sleep habits.
“Make sure that you’re regular in your sleep habits—that you’re going to sleep on time, regularly, each day,” says Dr. Gupta.
Keep in mind that it’s not simply what you do in the minutes leading up to bedtime that can affect your sleep. Your activity level, diet, and stress management throughout the daylight hours can all affect your sleep later that night. Learn more about the daily habits that help you sleep well.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
Both caffeine and alcohol “can interrupt your sleep and can make your sleep more restless,” says Dr. Gupta.
It’s a myth that alcohol can help you sleep. While it’s true that it might make you clonk out a little easier, it will worsen your quality of sleep throughout the night, and you may find yourself waking up or tossing and turning more than usual. In other words, say “no” to nightcaps.
4. Talk to your doctor.
Since good-quality sleep can improve fibromyalgia symptoms, your sleep patterns are an important aspect of your treatment. If you’re not successfully getting a good night’s sleep most nights, that’s important information to share with your doctor.
Dr. Gupta is a board-certified anesthesiologist, pharmacologist, and pain specialist.
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Individuals with fibromyalgia
generally don't sleep well,
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because they have painful symptoms, and
many of them wake up stiff in the morning.
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So it's important that they
get a good night sleep.
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Things that you can do to improve
your symptoms are, first,
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ensure that you're following your pain
medication regimen as you're instructed.
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That's critically important to make
sure that your pain's well controlled.
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Number two, make sure that you're
regular in your sleep habits.
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That you're going to sleep on time,
regularly, each day, and
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that your diet is regular and then that
you're eating normal healthy foods,
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avoiding spicy foods, things that
might irritate your gut lining.
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make sure that you're avoiding caffeine or
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alcohol right before bedtime.
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Those things can interrupt your sleep and
can make your sleep more restless, so
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that's also very important.
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And lastly, if you feel that you're having
interrupted sleep, talk to your doctor,
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because those things can also affect
your fibromyalgia symptoms and
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can increase your flares.
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So ensure that you talk to
your doctor about sleep.
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It's an important part of your treatment.
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Getting a good night's rest can
improve your painful symptoms for
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someone who has fibromyalgia
significantly, so it's critically
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important that a good night's rest
happens when you have fibromyalgia.
Andrade A, Vilarino GT, Sieczkowska SM, Coimbra DR, Bevilacqua GG, Steffens RAK. The relationship between sleep quality and fibromyalgia symptoms. J Health Psychol. 2018 Jan 1:1359105317751615.
Fibromyalgia. Atlanta, GA: American College of Rheumatology. (Accessed on December 20, 2021 at https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Fibromyalgia.)Fibromyalgia and sleep. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on May 1, 2019 at https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/fibromyalgia-and-sleep.)