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Sleep Disturbances in Fibromyalgia: causes and treatment

Fibromyalgia symptomsSleep disorders

Sleep disturbances are defined as conditions that change the way a person sleeps. This change affects the functioning of the mind and increases the risk of other health problems.

These disturbances are associated with problems with the quality, time, and quantity of sleep, which leads to daily distress and dysfunction in the body and They often coincide with health conditions such as fibromyalgia, a chronic disease characterized by widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints.

What is the effect of fibromyalgia on sleep?

Neuroimaging studies support the belief that people with fibromyalgia have a lower pressure pain threshold than those without fibromyalgia, which makes them more sensitive to pain. This is referred to as “abnormal pain perception”.Some polysomnography data also indicate that individuals with fibromyalgia wake up during the NREM stages of the sleep cycle and thus receive slow-wave sleep.

 Sleep problems exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, making the patient feel as though they are going through a vicious cycle of pain and sleep deprivation. The relationship between sleep and fibromyalgia goes in both directions. Just as pain can prevent patients from getting adequate rest, sleep deprivation lowers the pain threshold and thus increases the intensity of the pain sensation.

Sleep disorders associated with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is associated with two of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia and restless leg syndrome(RLS).

  • Fibromyalgia and insomnia: Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep despite efforts to get enough rest. People who suffer from insomnia also experience daily disturbances such as fatigue, mood disturbances, and decreased motivation and energy.
  • Fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome (RLS): Studies show a coherent overlap between fibromyalgia and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, which is a sensory and movement disorder characterized by an intense desire to move or adjust the legs. People with Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS) usually experience unpleasant sensations when lying down or sitting for long hours. This negatively affects their sleep quality.


  • cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I): Insomnia patients may receive cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is an evidence-based, structured treatment program that identifies thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can contribute to symptoms. A recent study found that this treatment can slow or reverse gray matter atrophy in the central nervous system, a common problem that occurs in people with fibromyalgia.
  • sleeping pills: Another study found that sleeping pills like suvorexant reduce diffuse pain caused by fibromyalgia. Several experiences have shown that participants with fibromyalgia who received this drug slept longer and had less pain the next day.


Treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia is essential, but additional steps can be taken to ensure getting  a good night’s rest, including:

  • Setting a sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day allows you to get enough rest each night, which in turn provides your body with time to repair itself physically and mentally. To succeed in this, you have to avoid long naps during the day and drink caffeine in moderation.
  • Exercising regularly: This can help ensure adequate rest throughout the night and reduce painful symptoms.
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation: It helps patients with fibromyalgia to relax and reduce their pain, thus improving the quality of their sleep.

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