Fibromyalgia and Sleep

Common Connections

The fibromyalgia fatigue that occurs when you wake up more tired than when you went to bed is caused by a lack of deep, restorative sleep. Either from pain, from unbalanced brain chemicals, or from muscles unable to relax, the person does not get the deep sleep (stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle) that restores the body.

Researchers are not sure which came first: the fibromyalgia and cfs causing poor sleep, or poor sleep causing fibromyalgia chronic fatigue.

If you wake in the middle of the night, do not dream, find your mind racing, or never feel rested, then you have a typical sleep problem that I used to have all the time..

Some people take muscle relaxers to help them with their fibromyalgia and sleep. Others take over-the-counter drugs that include Diphenhydramine HCL.

The prescription drug Ambien is one that I tried a few years ago when I was still having sleep problems. It was not at all effective for me as I was up for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night each time I took it. But a friend of mine who does not have fibromyalgia said she felt like she'd slept for a week after waking from one dose of Ambien. She also said she didn't feel groggy in the morning.

The sustained-release formula sleep meds, like Ambien CR or Lunesta, continue to release sleep medication in the middle of the night. I did sleep better with this type of med, although I still felt groggy and not totally rested in the morning.

At one time, in studying for more information for this website, I began to try out other sleep aids. I found that if I took 25mg instead of the recommended 50 mg of Dephenhydramine HCL, I still woke up in the wee hours of the morning, though I was able to get back to sleep, and after 2 or 3 days of using that, I was recharged and could go 2-3 weeks without needing sleep-aids or a nap. This lower dose made the morning grogginess very minimal for me. I would rather not utilize these as I'm a natural kind of gal, but I must admit, it did help before I discovered a more natural solution.

I also tried Doxylamine Succinate and I think I had even less of a groggy feeling in the morning and I felt pretty rested.  This had become my sleep aid of choice, along with the hints further down this page, until I discovered the big key to sleep. It involves nutrition--and taking the right supplements at the right time in the right amounts.

A suggestion for less morning grogginess is to take your sleep aid earlier in the evening.

Doctors will also prescribe antidepressants to help fibromyalgia and sleep. I've tried Serzone and Remeron with the fatigue and grogginess becoming very debilitating. I've been on a number of other antidepressants without really getting help with sleep.

If you go to my Fibromyalgia Depression Page you'll find more information about helping your depression and sleep with nutrition. I outline nutrients needed to make certain brain chemicals that are often missing in those suffering from fibromyalgia.

Tips for those with Fibromyalgia and Sleep Problems

Important: If you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, there are some supplements, combined with a comprehensive nutritional program, that will allow your muscles to relax and you to get a good night's sleep. One supplement that I use that has helped me is SamE, so much that I no longer need any type of sleep aid. And I'm dreaming again! That's a sign of deeper sleep. Are you dreaming yet?

Other natural ways of aiding fibromyalgia and sleep are Lavender bath bubbles in a warm bath about 2 hours before going to bed, or on your skin (or your partner's skin) in the form of a lotion or oil (I really get nice sleep from this). You can also lay a sachet of lavender on your pillow.

Chamomile tea can be very soothing and relaxing before bed or possibly even if you can't get back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

Valerian combined with other herbs can help some people get a better night's sleep (this hasn't done a lot for me).

Some people are helped by taking Melatonin for their sleep problems. It only works if you are deficient in this. If you can get your hormones balanced naturally, your body will produce this.  Also, make sure your bedroom is very dark.  The problem with Melatonin is if you add it from the outside, your body will sense it and produce even less, further creating dependence on the Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone and you must be careful.

If you are prone to waking in the middle of the night, like I was, reading a boring book, instead of letting your mind race can be helpful in getting back to sleep sooner. Or writing out all of those thoughts before you go to bed, so that your mind can rest.  I've been able to stop my mind from racing, just through the right, natural supplements.  

My sister gave me the technique of counting backwards from 100 in order to get to sleep. This really works well for me if I trace the numbers in my head as I'm thinking them. This keeps my mind busy enough so that outside thoughts don't interfere. If other thoughts poke in, start over from 100 again. Only once have I made it to zero and had to begin at 100 again before I fell asleep.

One last hint: Try to fall asleep on your back instead of your side. You will sleep deeper. I know it sounds impossible, but give it a try, or lie on your back until just before you fall asleep.

OK, two hints: You can also play a relaxation tape before falling asleep and even repeat it all night long if your cd or tape player will do this. Otherwise, start it again if you wake up.

Sweet Dreams!

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Health Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The statements and products are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any diseases. The information here is not provided by medical professionals and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your physician before beginning any course of treatment.

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