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Sleep Issues and Fibromyalgia: Partners in Crime

For people with fibromyalgia, sleep issues can be a big problem. Even though these individuals may have the ability to sleep at night, it is the lack of restorative sleep that seems to be a big factor. The body needs restorative sleep to repair and refresh itself; but for those who are plagued by insufficiency a whole night's sleep does little good. This is not insomnia, but a lack of sufficient sleep quality. Unfortunately, this seems to be both a cause and a consequence of the condition.

Research suggests that this sleep problem stems from a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.
A 2009 study suggests that one factor at play is heart rate variability-a measure of ANS function--is abnormal in people with fibromyalgia.  The sympathetic (fight or flight) branch of the ANS seems to be stuck in an "on" position,  causing them to be on guard even when asleep.  As a result, sleep quality is impaired and a lack of restorative sleep is the result. This can become a vicious cycle, which is most unfortunate.

Lack of restorative sleep contributes to the symptoms of fibromyalgia in a number of ways..increased tenderness,psychological distress, fatigue,stiffness, and poor task performance to name a few. So, what to do about this problem?  Start with good sleep hygiene. Here is a post I did featuring Natural Mama, and I think what she says makes a lot of sense. Talk to your doctor about your medication regimen; several of the drugs used to treat fibromyalgia may help in this regard.  Last but not least, melatonin is a good natural sleep supplement that may be of potential benefit.

sources: wikimedia;


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