Fibromyalgia Sleep Help

Sleep Improvement is the Key to Less Pain & Better Function in Fibromyalgia

Many abnormal findings that have been detected in patients with fibromyalgia are associated with poor sleep. These include fatigue, pain, depressed mood, memory deficits, etc. One of the most important problems for fibromyalgia sufferers is called “hyper-arousal”. This means that they are “wound-up” and irritable almost all the time. This hyper-active state has physical as well as mental consequences. Despite being constantly in “high gear”, the ability of fibromyalgia patients to respond to mental and physical stress is strongly diminished. In other words, their energy is low and their “batteries” are nearly empty. Thus it is very important to “recharge your batteries” and improve your response to everyday stressful events.

A word of caution, however: Many fibromyalgia patients have physical sleeping problems, including sleep disorderd breathing, intermittent airway obstruction, sleep apnea, etc. These abnormal findings can be detected during a sleep study (sleeping in a sleep lab for one night). If present, weight reduction, discontinuation of certain medications, simple manipulations, like CPAP (constant positive airway pressure), or minor surgery may improve your sleep. You should discuss this with your health care provider.

General Guidelines (Sleep Hygiene)

  • Keep a regular daily schedule (e.g. 11 pm to 7 am) even on days off and weekends.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Avoid daytime naps if you have trouble sleeping at night, limit to 15-20 min.
  • Exercise and eat only several hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid drinks and food containing stimulants (e.g. coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate), especially within 4 to 6 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol intake within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine at sleep onset and during the night.
  • Create a sleep-promoting environment with a comfortable bed and secure surroundings.
  • Remove environmental sources of disturbance (e.g. pets, noise, etc.).
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
  • Avoid turning on bright lights at night, use a night light.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep or sex (not work or arguments with spouse/partner).
  • Reduce intake of fluids before bed, resist getting up to use the bathroom.