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Improving Sleep for Fibromyalgia Patients

Updated on July 29, 2013

One of the struggles of fibromyalgia patients is the difficulty in sleeping. Researchers are already finding out ways on improving sleep of fibromyalgia patients who, in spite of taking in medications and treatment, are still experiencing sleep problems according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) under the National Health Institute (NIH).

Fibromyalgia syndrome is described as a recurring condition characterized by widespread pain in the ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It is also characterized by chronic fatigue and multiple tender points in the body.

One of the studies being supported by NIH-NIAMS is researching if the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) might help in improving fibromyalgia symptoms. The CPAP is a therapy employed through a machine which helps increase air pressure in the throat which will hold it open when the patient is sleeping. This is the focus of the study due to the observation that patients with fibromyalgia who have chronic sleep problems have the same characteristics as with people having sleep-disordered breathing, described as a group of disorders the most common of these is the obstructive sleep apnea characterized by pauses in breathing or sometimes very low breathing during sleep.

Further, the NIAMS noted that other research teams are already investigating the relationship of chronic fibromyalgia pain and sleep disturbance. Also, scientists are studying if behavioral therapy for insomnia will be able to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.

The need for good sleep

Getting a good sleep is always the best way to combat any conditions because rest is very much needed by the body to recuperate from the whole day’s activity.

In an article published online on last March 8, 2013, it cited the importance of good sleep as opposed to poor sleep. According to author Jacob Teitelbaum, poor sleep causes pain, immune dysfunction, and deficiency of growth-hormone. It also adds up to the average thirty-two pound average weight gain, reportedly gained by fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients.

Teitelbaum cited the research wherein 68, 183 women were observed for over sixteen years regarding their sleeping period. The study revealed that the women who have been sleeping for five or lesser hours each night had a risk of 32 percent in gaining the thirty-three pounds as opposed to the women who have been sleeping for seven hours per night.

Thus, getting eight to nine hours of undisturbed sleep per night and waking up not feeling hung-over the following day is very critical for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia syndrome, he said.

Tips on getting a good night sleep

Form a sleeping habit. It is important to be aware of your sleeping habits such as trying to get to bed in the same time every night and waking up in the same time every day, including vacations and weekends so as to form habits out of it and having a regular sleep schedule.

Don’t take in caffeinated and alcoholic drinks after 4 p.m. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, chocolate, soft drinks and some medications can cause interference in sleeping soundly or might even keep you from sleeping if taken in around bedtime. Though alcohol might induce sleep, it can also disturb sleep if taken too close to bedtime.

Exercise. Having a regular exercise is recognized to help improve fibromyalgia symptoms in patients. It is best to do low-impact exercises including brisk walking, swimming, or yoga. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime (which is 3-4 hours prior) because since exercises can be stimulating, it will keep you alert and awake keeping you from your intended rest. Thus, timing your exercise is recommended.

Time your daytime naps. Though taking a nap will help you be energized for your afternoon activities, too much nap might also cause interference with your nighttime sleep. When you cannot be able to endure not taking a nap, always set an alarm, say an hour, so you can get up and not fully doze off till evening.

Create a sleeping environment in your bedroom. Find a different place to set up your work station instead of huddling your workloads in your bed. Working on your laptop, reading a book and even watching the television while in bed will stimulate you, making sleeping difficult. Since chronic pain is found out to be intensified due to sound stress, opt for a bedroom environment that is quiet, cool, dark and free from distractions.

Take your medications. Ask your doctor as to what effective medications to take. Aside from the conventional medications, try asking for alternative and natural medications for your fibromyalgia symptoms.

Take hot bath. Taking hot baths after a long day can also ease fibro pains. Listening to relaxing and soothing music while soaking in your tub can prepare you to sleep.

Fibromyalgia Sleeping problems


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