This article, fresh off the press, looks at associations between fibromyalgia pain and some other stuff, notably sleep patterns. If you have fibro, you know that it sucks pretty bad. Widespread pain, typically in muscles, with accompanying symptoms ranging from fatigue to headaches to everything else. Most people with fibro have sleep problems, with 75% reporting disturbed sleep.

Sleep is crucial for pain. It serves to increase hormones that help repair the body, decrease pain sensitivity, and make you less depressed. So logically, less sleep in fibromyalgia patients would be associated with worse pain, right? Wrong! The patients in this study wore an actigraph when they sleep, which is a little device that measures movement in a much more sophisticated fashion than pedometer. The authors question was essentially “Which factors are responsible for differences between fibro patients”. They only looked at a few factors though. None of the sleep measurements (such as total sleep time, time they woke up, etc) were big factors. On the other hand, three factors were a big deal: how widespread their pain was, how negative their mood was, and how sensitive they were to painful stimuli.

So what does this study mean for you, fibro patient? Nothing much, when it comes to sleep. The authors pointed out several limitations to the study. For example, the study did not measure the effects of sleep, like daytime fatigue. These could be more predictive of pain than the sleep itself. Also, they measured pain at night, which might not make sense if there is increased pain in the morning from being super tired and grumpy.

But this study re-affirms some important stuff–like I wrote yesterday, mood may factor into pain. Also, how many tender points you have is important for fibro patients. That means work extra hard to completely eliminate individual areas, if possible! Whatever helps, consider doing more of it. Trigger point massage. Physical therapy. Whatever. If you can eliminate painful areas, your brain might not go into catastrophe mode as often. But as always, try to keep truckin’, until that magic fibro pill comes out :)

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Thank you Thank you! Sometimes when I do sleep deeper/more I actually feel worse as I gel up/have more morning stiffness and therefore more pain. Moving around a bit in the night can actually help me some, but that is not to say that this is optimum either. Middle ground, gotta find it. Am trying a new supplement as all prescription or over the counter meds either don’t work, don’t work consistently, or cause a paradoxical effect. And I keep developing allergies to meds or have rare side effects as in Ambiem=significant hypertension. I had heard that we fibrofreaks are very sensitive to meds, like no kidding! This post was SO helpful to me.

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  2. I have a paradoxical effect with almost all medicines that make other people drowsy or sleepy.  I sleep better with no medications – in fact, no medications help me, they all make me feel worse, and bring on symptoms of fibro, chronic myofascial pain, irritable bowel and irritable bladder.  All but the chronic myofascial pain go away when I give up medicines and alcohol and caffeine (boo hoo no chocolate!)  But I have audiobooks that I listen to at night, especially when they are NOT exciting stories I can lie and relax and dose and wake, and as long as I stay happy and not stressed by being awake I get up the next morning feeling as if I have had a good night’s sleep.  I take lots of vitamins, and I do about 3 hours exercise a day – stretches, pilates, yoga, cycling, walking, and about one hour’s meditation.  This means I can keep going and have a reasonably quality of life.  Thank goodness for my magic hubby of 40 years who makes me feel so much better – no, you can’t borrow him!! 

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    • I can’t seem to let stress fly by! I was sexual abused multiple times as a child and I can’t rewire myself to let things affect me physically it seems to be an automatic response. I am way to sensitive physically and mentally! I could probably cut my pain in half if “only” I can stop this automatic response but after 56 years this is tough then I beat myself up for “falling in the trap”. I am sensitive to others pain or tears. I can get worked up over a movie so I don’t go unless it is a feel good movie! When I see pictures on the news my body reacts as though I feel the hurt person’s pain. I feel like I am in that old episode of “Star Trek” with the empath. I protected my younger sister from the abuse as best I could by being the victim. I hate this if only I could “rewire”! I have reactions to medicine. Savella gave me a seizure, but the doctor didn’t believe me. I know a seizure because my daughter is an epileptic! It is tough enough being sensitive but when the doctor questions your reaction it hurts! Thanks for the article!

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  3. I absolutely do NOT sleep without the use of medications. I find that if I stay in bed too long I feel worse, and it has nothing to do with quality of sleep, but actual time spend in bed. I do however tend to feel worse after a night of poor sleep. Basically I have some serious tender spots that I can’t seem to get rid of and they really cause me a LOT of problems. I see that the person above me says that they exercise 3hrs a day. I have NO idea how anyone can have the energy to exercise that much. I’m lucky if I can make a 1 mile walk without feeling like I’m going to collapse. Fatigue is real problem for me as well. I feel like I need a nap within an hour of getting up. FMS really IS an insidious and life draining illness!!!!

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  4. I was diagnosed with Fibro about 5 years ago, and I haven’t slept through the night for probably four years. I take a prescription sleep aid every night and still wake up multiple times during the night. I would give anything for a good night’s sleep!

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  5. When I have a sleepless night my fibromyalgia is UNBEARABLE!! I envy all of you that don’t have that problem!
    I can BARELY function the next day…. Have tried meds for Fibro but horrible side effects:(

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  6. Actually though, when I do not have a good night’s sleep, my pain is much worse, than when I sleep well.

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