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Adrienne Dellwo

Odd Sleep Patterns in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By May 20, 2009

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Better Sleep Month Series

A major feature of fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) is disrupted sleep that leads to fatigue and contributes to a host of other symptoms. These aren't disruptions that you'll find on lists of sleep disorders, but there's plenty of evidence showing that those of us with these conditions consistently have certain sleep abnormalities.

Both conditions can involve what's called alpha-wave intrusion, alpha-delta sleep or alpha-EEG anomaly. Those are just different names for the same thing. Basically, we have different kinds of brain waves at different stages of wake/sleep states. Alpha waves are linked to an active, wakeful mind, while delta waves are involved in deep sleep (stages 3 and 4). Numerous studies show that, in us, alpha waves for some reason show up when we're in delta sleep. At a time when our brains should be completely at rest, alpha waves intrude and keep us from getting proper sleep. Several common sleep medications help correct this abnormality, most notably Xyrem.

In ME/CFS, some researchers also believe cytokines and impaired cellular immune function may be involved in creating non-restorative sleep. So far, this has been a more difficult issue to overcome. We may get better treatments for this as researchers learn more about immune-system involvement in ME/CFS.

Meanwhile, we can take steps to correct other sleep-related problems and improve our sleep, even if we can't make it completely normal and restorative:

Most doctors don't even begin to address our underlying sleep abnormalities. Have you been diagnosed with or treated for them? What has worked for you? Share your experiences so we can all learn from them - leave a comment below!


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May 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm
(1) MHagen says:

I have been taking Gabapentin (generic of Neuronton)for several years now and nearly always get eight hours of sound sleep. My dosage is two 300mg capsules in 24 hours, one every 12 hours. There are side effects that may not be acceptable to everyone.

May 23, 2009 at 2:57 am
(2) me says:

Of course xyrem works. It normalizes sleep architecture. It changed my life before it became co-opted by the government. This is GHB and I was introduced to it by my doctor when you could still get it from a compounding pharmacy for about $60.00 a month. I went from abnormal to normal…I took the GHB, I went to sleep, and I woke up with energy, 8 hours later. The government demonized it with the disinformation campaign, and the book is out of print. You can read some pages here for factual information: http://www.amazon.com/GHB-Natural-Enhancer-Samantha-Miller/dp/0962741868

My life has not been the same. Those years on GHB were fantastic. It normalized my life as I was raising the last of my children.I was able to be a real mom, engaged in his life, because I was sleeping at night. Several years ago at Stanford Sleep Clinic I tried to discuss this and they violently opposed the idea of xyrem for insomnia. I’ve pretty much cured the fatigue with d-ribose, but sleep doesn’t come until about 3 am almost every night. I miss normal. The GHB disinformation campaign was a profit driven manipulation so we can now call it XYREM. Orwellian.

May 28, 2009 at 10:58 am
(3) Heather says:

I was using flexeril and trazadone together. Flexeril is a muscle relaxant and was ideal for me because it is sedating and also helped with my muscle spasms.

Trazadone is a sedating tricyclic anti-depressant. It is a weak anti-depressant, and I take 50mg. The dose at which it becomes effective as an anti-depressant is much higher (300mg?).

My side effects were dry mouth and as I became more “tolerant” of the flexeril and my dosage had to increase, I began experiencing increased hangover fatigue (trouble getting out of bed in the morning).

I am now taking trazadone 50mg and Soma 350mg – sometimes take 1 1/2 or even 2 Soma pills at night.

I wake feeling rested and do not struggle to get out of bed if I allow myself 8 hours to sleep. I have pain reduction due to better sleep and the actions of the muscle relaxant. Timing is very important for my sleep medications. I find that I do best if I take 1/2 a soma and a trazadone at 7:30pm, then a whole soma again at 8:15pm and then I go to bed at 9pm.

I used to think I could take my sleep medicine and I would fall asleep right away. I was having much more difficulty back then. These medicines all have different lengths of time before they become active in your body, so it may take some experimenting. Ask your doctor if he can help you decide how long before you go to bed that you should take your medication.

July 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm
(4) Corina says:

My doctor perscribed Ativan or generic form Lorazapam….I take one 1mg bout an hour befor bed and It helps calm my mind and relax my body so I can sleep. My life has changed since. I used to just lay there and couldn’t fall asleep till 3 or 4 am. Very frustrating. The only side affect I have ever had from it is sleepiness.

March 25, 2011 at 4:36 am
(5) Patricia says:

Is anyone having trouble with waking up after 4 hours with Ambien? Has anyone tried Ambien CR and found it better?

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