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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