Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by widespread pain as well as other symptoms.
If you have fibromyalgia, you are most likely having difficulty sleeping. Most people with this condition do. No matter how much they sleep, it is rarely restful and restorative. Following is some information that could help you to get more restful and restorative sleep.
Common Sleep Problems Related to Fibromyalgia
Often, sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia include:
- Being unable to fall asleep
- Awakenings that you can remember
- Awakenings that you can’t remember, but do affect your “deep” stages of sleep
Other sleep disorders that may possibly be associated with fibromyalgia are:
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Sleep Apnea
Commonly, individuals with fibromyalgia complain of waking up day after day still feeling exhausted and having no energy. Typically, they wake up feeling more tired and there are many that will take naps during the day in an attempt to ease their fatigue. Another condition that is common for individuals with fibromyalgia is a condition called “fibro fog,” which keeps them from being able to focus or concentrate during the day.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia such as pain, depression, and/or anxiety can possibly contribute to problems with sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Restless Leg Syndrome is very common among individuals with fibromyalgia. Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is a neurological disorder that is characterized by an urge to get your legs moving while resting. You just can’t seem to get comfortable. There are treatments available for RLS, so discuss with your physician if you have this disorder. The treatment for RLS could also relieve some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Sleep Strategies to Help those Suffering from Fibromyalgia
Taking steps to establish better sleeping habits can definitely help in managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. By improving your sleep, you can decrease fatigue, pain, and even the symptoms of “fibro fog.” Following are some strategies that have worked for others and just might work for you- just give them a try. Keep in mind though, that not everyone is the same and there may be some things that just don’t work for you. In addition to some of these tips and strategies for establishing better sleep habits, talk to your doctor about possibly getting on a sleep medication that is both safe and effective to get you back on a restful sleep schedule. Of course, you don’t want to become dependent on it- so only take it for a short time.
Sleep only what you need to in order to feel healthy and refreshed the next day- don’t sleep any more than that. Cutting down the amount of time you spend in bed seems to increase the quality of sleep. Staying in bed for long periods of time seem to be connected with fragmented, shallow sleep.
Keep a notebook by your bed and record how you slept each night. Also record the triggers that possibly interfered with your sleeping. Taking some time to review these notes after a few weeks could give you some insight on what is causing your sleep issues.
Set a regular wake up time each morning. When you have a regular time that you wake up, you can strengthen your circadian rhythms, which will lead to falling asleep at a more regular time as well.
Use therapies to help you relax- a massage, deep breathing exercises, and other techniques for relaxation can all be used to potentially benefit the management of fibromyalgia symptoms and to boost the quality of sleep you’re getting.
Take some time to get regular exercise. However, make sure that it is three hours or more before you plan on going to bed. It is thought that exercise could be beneficial by promoting better quality of sleep.
Avoid taking long naps during the day. When you take long naps, you could very well be interfering with your night time sleep patterns.
Keep the bedroom temperature cool- when the temperature is excessively warm, your sleep could be disturbed.
Hunger could be one of the things interfering with your sleep. Close to bedtime- but not too close- consider a light carbohydrate snack to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine in the evenings- both of these are known to cause disturbances in sleep.
Creating a Bedtime Routine
Another thing you can do is create a bedtime routine for yourself. This is something that will help you wind down and tell your body that it is time to go to sleep. Once you know what you want to do, stick to it and eventually your body will begin to get the message when it’s bedtime. Some things you could do are as follows:
- Soak in a warm bath- use soothing bath salts, candles, and/or soothing music to relax you.
- Curl up with a good book- not too good though, you don’t want to get your heart racing and your brain engaged- the key is to find something relaxing.
- Sip on some warm milk or chamomile tea- some sip on a glass of wine, but it is suggested that you avoid alcohol, as it is a stimulant.
Whatever you choose for your routine to be, make it something that is restful. You don’t want to take part in stimulating activities when it is bedtime- save those for during the day.
Using Medications to Treat Sleep Problems Associated with Fibromyalgia
There are medication options for treating fibromyalgia and the symptoms that go with it such as depression and pain that could help soothe your sleep problems. Drugs that have been approved to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia include Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Savella.
Additionally, in some cases, individuals with fibromyalgia use other medications to manage their symptoms such as: muscle relaxers, pain relievers, and even antidepressants. Your physician could also recommend limited, temporary use of sleep medications.