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Sleep for Painful Fibromyalgia Using 5HTP

Updated on February 12, 2018
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

Is your sleep trouble at night one of not falling asleep within 30 minutes nor sleeping through the night? Do you also have chronic diffused muscle pain? If so, you either have Fibromyalgia, like me, or you are headed that way. The many who have this disease, do not have visible disabilities, but they are miserable.

The medical community does not know how to help the Fibromyalgia patient. Actually, the less prescription medications these patients are on, the better off they are. However, they try most anything in desperation and can easily end up being on lots of medications and supplements.

So if medicine does not help, what does?

Stress capacity

It has to do with capacity for stress. Everyone is born with a certain stress capacity. This stress coping capacity is like our body's gas tank. Some of us have a large tank, some of us have a small tank—all based on genetics.

Getting deep restorative sleep


In this tank are certain chemicals that help us to deal with stress, like

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Cortisol
  • DHEA, etc.

There are thousands and thousands of chemicals our body uses. The more stress we are under, the more chemicals we use up from our coping tank.

Stress coping 'tank' runs dry

What happens with the Fibromyalgia patient is they use these up faster than the tank is refilled. A long-term illness, a surgery, a big personal loss of some kind, being a single mom with little support structure or even decades in a miserable job can deplete our stress coping gas tank.

Once depleted, getting enough deep restorative sleep becomes a thing of the past.

Depleted stress coping 'tank'


Body systems break down

In essence, without enough deep sleep, the body becomes broken down and can no longer handle any more stress.

When this happens, the autonomic nervous system starts to ‘hiccup,’ and it starts to have problems.

The body loses its ability to take care of itself and its various systems start to work against each other. It is like our immune system, our moods, our sleep/awake rhythm, digestive system, etc. each start speaking different languages.

Communication between the systems gets lost.

Low serotonin, little deep sleep


Serotonin fills the stress coping 'tank'

The healthy person refills their stress coping gas tank through deep sleep each night. The body is able to repair itself this way. Serotonin (a neurotransmitter) is what enables the body to go into this deep sleep. To do this, a lot of it is needed.

Serotonin turns into melatonin, which regulates our sleep rhythm. If, however, a person does not go into deep sleep, the serotonin is not produced. This resulting vicious cycle leaves a whole host of problems in its wake:

  • Cannot lose weight
  • Low thyroid
  • Low immune function
  • Increased pain
  • Increased fatigue
  • IBS
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental fog
  • Poor memory, etc.

The higher the serotonin level, the less pain in the body. It blocks something called Substance P, something that increases the pain sensation. When not blocked, a little neck pain can turn into pain throughout the body. Serotonin greatly increases the pain threshold.

So, the higher the body’s serotonin level, the less of the above problems the person will have.

Traditional medicine has tried to increase serotonin levels using SSRIs, like Paxil, Prozac, Flexipro, etc. Antidepressants, however, do not make serotonin. These medications only make what serotonin is already in the body remain active longer. Like a gasoline additive, they just make the gasoline work better. The problem is, Fibromyalgia patients have hardly any serotonin left, if any. Medication to only make the serotonin they have left work better is woefully inadequate.

2D-structure of 5-hydroxytryptophan (HTP)


Adding more serotonin

The body needs the amino acid tryptophan to make serotonin. Along with magnesium, the vitamin Bs, vitamin C, calcium, etc. the tryptophan turns into serotonin.

The over-the-counter 5HTP is a form of this amino acid that is plant based and absorbs very efficiently past the blood-brain barrier.

Dr. Rodger Murphree's Fibromyalgia Video Series

Taking 5HTP

Dr. Rodger Murphree explains in his video and in his books that 5HTP works for thousands of patients he has treated. This is even without what some places in Europe are saying must be taken along with it. He has his Fibromyalgia patients take:

  • 50 mg of 5HTP
  • 30 minutes before bed
  • On an empty stomach (1.5 hours after eating anything)
  • With a little bit of juice (to release glucose and insulin and get to the brain more directly)

NOTE: Added vitamin C and B6 are recommended by some, but Dr. Murphree says the B6 can cause the 5HTP to go to the digestive system, instead of the brain.

Everyone with Fibromyalgia has a sleep disorder and so deep sleep is the key to getting better. If, therefore, the 50 mg does not enable them to get to sleep within 30 minutes and sleep through the night, then increase the dose another 50 mg each night until this happens.

Even if the patient needs to get up in the middle of the night to take care of someone, she should be able to go right back to sleep once back in bed.

Cases where increased doses of 5HTP do not work

Dr. Murphree explains in part 4 of the video cases where increased doses of 5HTP up to 300 mg each night does not work. Chronic Fatigue syndrome may also be part of the patient’s picture and will also need to be addressed. Start listening midway through part 4 to learn what to do in such cases.

Talking to your doctor

Ask your doctor if you are on any drug or supplement that might react with the 5HTP. You may need to explain what 5HTP is and how it might help your Fibromyalgia.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am an avid researcher seeking to know as much as I can about my illness.

© 2012 Deidre Shelden


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    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Fibro-Annie, Hoping the 5HTP does indeed help. It is such a relief for me to get better sleep! Welcome to HubPages, by the way :).

    • Fibro-Annie profile image

      Fibro-Annie 5 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Well-done, Ms Dee! I recently initiated 5-HTP after doing some research of my own. Nice to know I may be on the right track. Time will tell.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      nettraveller, I would think eating foods as a natural source of serotonin would help. I just don't know how easily a certain regular amount could be managed, though I would think it possible to get the needed amount that way.

    • nettraveller profile image

      nettraveller 5 years ago from USA

      Excellent hub, and so well explained! Would eating plant foods that contain serotonin be helpful, or does the serotonin need to be in isolated form?

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      duffsmom, medical doctors do often seem quite at a loss as to what to do with fibromyalgia patients. We can be left more often than not having to be our own doctor. Good you insisted on the xray! I'm finding the 5HTP helps with getting to sleep and getting back to sleep when up for other reasons in the middle of the night. Due to the accompanying Chronic Fatigue, though, it seems sleeping better does not very often help with feeling more energized during the day.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      When I first suspected I had Fibromyalgia in 1992, it wasn't such a big deal, a little aching, some muscle pain without having over stressed the muscle. But the last 2 years have been staggering in terms of pain. I no longer can stand longer than 10 minutes at a time - a lot due to hurting so bad, but also I have become quite sedentary due to the pain. One problem with fibro, is once the dr. diagnosis it, he/tends to attribute all of the patient's complaints to the fibro. I finally had to insist on a hip xray and found I need a hip replacement. So it pays to be informed and these kinds of articles are very helpful. Well done Ms Dee, thank you.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      teaches, it does seem the mystery of Fibromyalgia is lifting more and more, as non-medical practitioners, in particular, seek to treat it.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      My daughter-in-law suffers from fibromyalgia. This certainly does describe what she faces in her life. Thanks for the information and it so helpful to me.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Excellent! Hope the doctor can help.

    • Bobski606 profile image

      Bobby 5 years ago from U.K

      Very interesting information. I shall be taking this to the doctor to get some thoughts. Thanks for bringing this up!