How You Can Sleep Better With Fibromyalgia
People who are typically in good health take sleep to be granted. It is something they don't even think about much.
But if you have fibromyalgia, then you know how hard it is to get sleep.
Even people with no fibromyalgia condition sometimes have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is such a widespread health issue that about third of Americans have trouble sleeping.
In this article, we provide you more information about fibromyalgia and difficulty in falling asleep. And the steps you can take now to sleep better.
For any long-lasting relief from your fibromyalgia condition, you have to address your sleep problem first.
How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Sleep
Fibromyalgia is often associated with chronic pain in the muscles and bones. But that is the tip of the iceberg as there are usually one or more associated symptoms in the people.
Fatigue, headache, depression, and insomnia are some other common fibromyalgia symptoms.
More than 8 million people in North America alone suffer from fibromyalgia condition. But it is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed medical condition.
Many people including physicians often discount this condition as "all in the head" condition. Unlike other medical diseases such as diabetes, heart problem, and cancer, there is no test to confirm fibromyalgia.
This no "obvious symptoms" often causes many people to believe fibromyalgia to be not real which makes the diagnosis and treatment difficult.
A typical person needs at least 7 to 9 hours of good sleep. A lack of proper sleep leads to an increased nerve, joint and muscle pain. In a study, it was found that more than 75 percent of fibromyalgia patients also had difficulty sleeping.
Moreover, fibromyalgia patients have far less deep sleep cycle than the average person with no other medical condition.
Although women are more prone to have fibromyalgia than men, but study have suggested that men are more likely to have sleep disorder than women.
So how does fibromyalgia affect sleep?
Well, there are several reasons that fibromyalgia patients have difficulty sleeping. Some of the common reasons are:
Pain is the most common cause of not getting good sleep. During fibromyalgia flares, people often experience joint pain, muscle pain, and migraines.
These pains keep the person awake, and the sleep deprivation further increases the pain. It then gets into kind of downward spiral. There is also direct correlation between reduced tolerance for pain and sleep deprivation.
It is essential that if you are having severe pain then you should take some pain killers to get effective relief, otherwise it will be hard to go sleep.
Be cautious about the type of pain killer you take. Many pain medications contain opioid which causes the disturbed sleep.
Natural pain relief medication such as Outback Topical Oil, Turmeric Curcumin Natural Pain Relief, and Willow-Balm - Topical pain cream do not contain any opioid but provide effective relief from the pain and muscle inflammation.
It is not unusual for fibromyalgia patients to have irregular or shallow breathing. But it gets more critical when a person sleep.
Sleep disordered breathing causes a lack of oxygen in the body and breaks the sleep cycle. The abnormal breathing which results in difficulty sleeping is also known as sleep apnea.
Many people get their fibromyalgia triggered due to injuries such as whiplash, or accidents. These injuries often cause shock to the neck which damages the upper cervical spine.
The cervical spine plays a critical role to allow the blood to flow from the lower part of the body to the brain.
The reduced or abnormal blood flow to the brain deprives it of the oxygen and other nutrients. This lack of nutrients and oxygen to the brain causes dizziness which hampers the sleep.
Fibromyalgia patients have difficulty producing mood altering hormone called Serotonin. Serotonin helps keep people in a good mood and happy.
A low level of Serotonin increases the risk of developing depression. Depression makes it challenging for people to go sleep.
Furthermore, the lack of sleep causes people to get more depressed.
Reduced Deep Sleep
Fibromyalgia patients often have neurons in their brain firing non-stop. This causes the brain to be hyperactive which keeps them awake.
Deep and uninterrupted non-REM sleep is essential for brain and the body to repair any damaged cells.
This lack of refreshing deep sleep causes people to be more fatigued and difficulty focusing. Many people also call this condition as "brain fog."
Does Fibromyalgia get worse at night
Many people with fibromyalgia condition feel that their fibromyalgia symptoms get worse at night.
Now, there is no direct correlation between sunlight and fibromyalgia flares, but there are other factors in play.
First, people are more physically active during the day time which makes them fatigued, stressed and anxious. This increases the pain in the body which causes difficulty sleeping.
Second, deep sleep happens at the night time when people try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep. This is the time when the body attempts to repair damaged cells and starts the therapeutic process.
Now due to disturbed sleep, body is not able to complete the repair of damaged cells which trigger the fibromyalgia flares.
So yes, some people may experience their fibromyalgia flares to get worse at night.
Does Fibromyalgia makes you sleep a lot
Some people with fibromyalgia condition have reported that they tend to sleep a lot when their fibromyalgia flare is up.
Now, this seems counterintuitive as we know all fibromyalgia symptoms point to difficulty in sleep.
So what can be the possible explanation for increased sleep activity in fibromyalgia condition?
We could not find any scientific research to support the claim that fibromyalgia makes people sleep a lot.
So one possible explanation is the pain medications taken by fibromyalgia patients.
Most of the time these pain medications also contain sleep-inducing ingredients. These are helpful to allow the brain and body to get rest and numb the pain area.
People often mistook these sleep inducing effects from the pain killers to have general observation that fibromyalgia makes them sleep more.
If you do not use the pain killers, then it is very muck likely that you will not be able to sleep with pain and fibromyalgia flares.
How to get deep sleep with fibromyalgia
There are various ways you can improve your sleep with fibromyalgia condition.
This involves the use of medicines and change in your lifestyle. For optimal result, a combination of both sleep medications and lifestyle change is recommended.
Let's dig deeper into it.
If you have chronic sleepless condition then sleeping drugs may be your best option. The medications based on Benzodiazepine such as Dalmane, Doral, and Halcion are the most common treatment for insomnia.
Fibromyalgia patients are often prescribed above sleep medicines. But you should be cautious about using these medicines for the long-tern. The long-term use of these medicines may result in the development of physical tolerance and dependency.
There are some newer non-benzodiazepine medicines which have less risk of developing dependency.
The common non-benzodiazepine medicines are:
- Ambien (Zolpidem)
- Sonata (Zaleplon)
- Lunesta (Eszopiclone)
These sleep medications help reduce the time it takes someone to fall asleep and helps them to sleep longer.
It can be taken at bedtime or whenever you have difficulty sleeping.
Among the above medications, Lunesta is an FDA approved sleep medication. Several clinical trials have suggested that it helps people to get sleep faster and for a longer duration of deep relaxing sleep.
If you get a prescription for Lunesta, then you should take it right before going to bed. Its effect lasts for at least 6 hours.
You should be mindful that these sleep medications often have side effects. You should always consult your doctor before start taking these medications.
If you have a condition of liver disease or have a history of depression or mental illness, then avoid taking sleeping pills.
You should only take it if it is absolutely necessary and follow the recommended dose per your doctor.
As an alternative to prescription sleeping pills, you can also try over the counter sleep medications.
These alternative medicines have fewer side effects and can be taken without any prescription. Herbs such as Luna Natural Sleep Aid, MidNite Natural Sleep Supplements, and Serenity Natural Sleep Aid can help you relax your body and help you sleep fast.
Most of these over the counter sleep supplements generally have natural organic substances and is typically safe to take.
Obesity and Fibromyalgia
A study published in Internal Medicines has found that obesity increases the risk of poor sleep. Obesity causers the body metabolism to slow down and makes the body less efficient to process the nutrients.
Most of the time people with excess weight are also less physically active which maeks them less tired and not able to sleep properly.
Women who are overweight and have their body mass index more than 25 have up to 75 percent higher risk of developing fibromyalgia, as compared to thinner person.
This is supported by a study published in the Journal of Pain where it was found to have a strong correlation between obesity and fibromyalgia.
A total of 215 fibromyalgia patients participated in the study and were provided with a seven day home sleep assessment. 47 percent of participants were obese and 30 percent were overweight.
The study concluded that obesity resulted in higher sensitivity to the pain and overall poor sleep.
It confirmed the relationship between losing weight and reduction in fibromyalgia symptoms. Healthier and physically active lifestyle influences the overall well-being of the person. This then improves the quality of sleep.
Reducing weight not only help you to improve your sleep but also lowers your fibromyalgia symptoms.
So how can you lower your weight without starving yourself?
Well, first of all, remember that it will not be going to be easy. But you can do it in several ways to maximum your success chance.
You should start by selecting a healthy diet first and then gradually begin exercising.
In a healthy diet, you can include several natural weight loss products which boost your metabolism. You can choose products such as Yogi Tea, Organic Matcha Green Tea, and Portion control plates to help you lose weight.
These products boost your metabolism and help you control the amount of food you eat.
Poor breathing is another cause of sleep disturbance. Many people have difficulty sleeping due to a medical condition called sleep apnea.
A person with this condition stops breathing while asleep. They also have reduced airflow to their lungs several times during the night.
Due to the reduces flow of oxygen, the brain wakes the person so they can breathe normally. But this also breaks the sleep cycle.
Sleep apnea is quite common in fibromyalgia patients.
Here is a brief video about sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea causes frequent loud snoring. This is caused due to a partial or complete collapse of nasal airways during the sleep.
This happens because during the sleep the muscles in the throat start to relax. The relaxed muscles cause the airways to collapse.
The collapse muscles in the airways block the airflow. To get enough oxygen, the lungs have to put extra pressure to inhale and exhale the air.
These products keep the nasal pathways clear from any obstruction either physically or through internal lubrication of respiratory airways.
A lower vibration in the nasal pathways reduces the snoring and also keeps the airways open for full breathing.
Vitamin D and Sleep
Vitamin D plays an essential role in boosting sleep. The body produces Vitamin D when it gets exposure to the sun.
Many people call it vitamin but it is a type of hormones. Many people living in cold weather condition often get less exposure to the sunlight which causes them to have a deficiency in Vitamin D.
It is estimated that more than 30 percent to 50 percent of the general population is deficient in Vitamin D and it is considered a public health problem.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb the nutrients such as calcium and phosphorous which improves the bones health.
Healthy bones are essential during the sleep as it makes our spine to be not under stress and fatigue when we sleep.
Several studies have supported the link between sleep and Vitamin D. A low level of Vitamin D causes sleep disturbance.
So the best way to increase Vitamin D is to get more exposure to the sunlight. But if you live in an area where it is not possible to obtain sufficient sunlight, then you should consume more Vitamin D rich diets.
Several fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are good source of Vitamin D. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt should be a routine part of your diet.
In some cases, you can also opt for Vitamin D supplements. If you are not sure if you have Vitamin D deficiency, then you can also get blood test done. It may help you to gauge the level of Vitamin D in your body.
People often associate meditation with something to do with spiritual activity. But new research has found that doing mindful meditation can help you with your sleep.
Mindful meditation requires you to focus your attention and awareness on the present moment without any active thought about the past and future.
American Mindfulness Research Association have found that people who do mindful meditation have a far better quality of sleep than others.
The scientific explanation of better sleep with meditation is due to a reduction in the stress level. The stress produces hormone "Cortisol" which hampers the body's ability to go sleep.
By managing your stress level through meditation, the brain gets out of negative thoughts which helps you not worry and results in better sleep.
If you are a beginner, then you may need some help to do mindful meditation properly. You can start it by looking at your local meditation group
This should come as no surprise to you. Exercise not only helps with your fibromyalgia condition but also helps to improve the sleep.
Sleep has various cycles, and the most important one is a deep sleep stage. The longer you spend in deep sleep stage, the far better and refreshing you will feel.
Fibromyalgia condition often affects the deep sleep stage. By being physically active and exercising, your body gets tired and make you fall asleep for a longer duration.
There are various types of exercise you can do. But if you have fibromyalgia then you should first focus on doing aerobic exercises. The typical aerobic exercises are running or jogging, rope jumping, and swimming.
You have to keep in mind that to get the most benefit, you have to be consistent with your exercise routine.
Studies have shown that people with insomnia condition, exercise benefits happen gradually over time.
So if you think that if you are not able to sleep and you can run on treadmill to go to sleep then it will not be of much use.
You should also not overdo exercise as it will increase the risk of injury. You should aim to be physically active for 30 minutes a day for five days a week.
Massage can help you to get good sleep. Massage involves activating your soft body tissues through various movements and pressure.
There are various types of massage. It ranges from deep tissue massage to tapping, and long strokes of vibrations.
Massage involved setting up a relaxed and ambiance environment through dim light, relaxing music and aromatic scents.
It helps the body to relax and reduce the stress produced Cortisol level in the body and increases the production of Oxytocin hormones.
The Oxytocin hormones have a positive effect on the body and help you to feel less pain.
Good quality sleep is essential to keep us healthy. It is unfortunate that people with fibromyalgia often have difficulty sleeping.
There are several ways you can get relief from the sleep deprivation, and the most effective way is by living a healthy and active lifestyle.
You should also understand your surrounding and develop good sleep habits.
Medicines and supplements can help you, but these alone should not be your long-term solution. You should consider implementing several strategies and products to improve your sleep quality.
At last, consult your doctor if you still have difficulty falling asleep.
Have you experienced sleep disturbance with fibromyalgia?
We would love to hear your experience in the comment below.
You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook Page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatment for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
Image Credits: Freepik and Pixabay