How does fibromyalgia affect sleep?


Fibromyalgia is a generalized chronic pain syndrome that is characterized by causing a wide spectrum of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, muscle stiffness and emotional distress. It affects up to 5% of the general population, but there is a clear predominance of women.

People who suffer from it have a significant deterioration in their physical and mental health, even to a greater degree than those who have other rheumatic or immune diseases. Although it does not have a definite cause, its appearance is related to the uncontrolled nervous system, sedentary lifestyle, and genetics.

How does fibromyalgia affect patients’ sleep?fibromyalgia

To estimate how fibromyalgia affects sleep, it is essential to emphasize that chronic pain can directly affect the ability to rest. Although scientific evidence is still required to confirm this relationship, sleep disturbances have been found for those who have some type of musculoskeletal ailment.

Despite this, there are several theories about fibromyalgia and sleep. In fact, some suggest that these types of disorders may be the cause of the disease. However, there are cases in which the symptom is not an ancestor, but a consequence. Regardless of this, it is a type of symptom that further complicates the prognosis.

Keep reading: Back pain: origins and some tips to relieve it

The victims and insomniafibromyalgia

The most common sleep problems in patients with fibromyalgia are frequent awakenings, difficulty falling asleep and, to a lesser extent, insomnia. Apparently, chronic pain affects a greater state of alert, which could explain these interferences that prevent having a quality sleep.

On the other hand, there is a greater tendency to suffer restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. As a result of this, the patient wakes up every day with the feeling of “not having rested”, which forces him to sleep during the day to relieve fatigue.

Since all this affects the perception of pain and the repair capacity of muscle tissues, the disease worsens. Therefore, for some time the treatment of fibromyalgia also aims to regulate sleep to reduce diurnal effects such as stiffness, pain and concentration problems such as “fibro-fog”.

Treatment of sleep disordersfibromyalgia

One of the characteristics of the current treatment of fibromyalgia is polypharmacy. Since it is aimed at improving the quality of sleep and reducing pain, analgesics, hypnotics and anxiolytics are used.

In general, with regard to sleep difficulties, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics seem to be the most appropriate. This is because they do not alter the respiratory parameters of the patient and respect the sleep structure. However, in some cases, benzodiazepines are also used in moderate amounts.

In the same way, the use of antidepressants is considered opportune, given that it plays an important role as a serotonin modulator. By stimulating this neurotransmitter, they improve sleep in general and fibromyalgia in particular.

Strategies that help you sleep better in case of fibromyalgiafibromyalgia

Consolidating better sleep hygiene is a good complement to the pharmacological treatment that seeks to control this problem. It is paramount that all patients do their part, even when the symptoms are discouraging. Some strategies that may work are:

  • Sleep only what is necessary and shorten the time in bed if it is too long.
  • Wake up every day at the same time to strengthen the circadian rhythm.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as massage and deep breathing to push the body to a restful sleep.
  • Do regular stretching and low impact physical activity.
  • Check the temperature of the room and avoid very cold or warm environments.
  • Avoid the consumption of alcohol, caffeine or any type of stimulant.
  • Consume a light dinner and avoid any inflammatory food.

In conclusion

Fibromyalgia produces sleep disorders that, in turn, put the patient in a vicious circle. The pains of the day prevent adequate rest, while insomnia and sleep interruptions worsen daytime symptoms. Thus, in addition to focusing the treatment on pain relief, it is essential to take measures to improve sleep.

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