Very few sleep problems would surprise me when it comes to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but a recent comment from a reader made me wonder -- is this yet another symptom that's just under-recognized, or is something else going on?
"[I'm] waking constantly night after night with stupid or scary dreams because the part of the brain that goes into REM sleep isn't working properly, so dreams become more like hallucinations."
I don't think what I sometimes experience is exactly like what she's describing, but sometimes I have dreams start in (or continue into) a semi-waking state, and it's difficult for my consciousness to separate dream from reality.
So what's going on here? Is this part of our illness? If so, it's not one that the medical community (even the ones who get it!) recognize, and it's not one I've heard of in the patient community until now.
What it does make me wonder about is narcolepsy. One symptom of narcolepsy is hypnogogic hallucinations, during which you can hear, see or feel things that aren't there as you start to fall asleep. They're often intense and frightening.
I suspect that this sleep disorder is far more common in us that we realize, and I've written before about how it could be easy to misdiagnose either narcolepsy or chronic fatigue syndrome as the other.
In studies, the narcolepsy drug Xyrem (sodium oxybate) is shown to be effective against fibromyalgia symptoms, and those results are reflected in the experiences of many people who've tried it. (The only reason the FDA didn't approve Xyrem for us was because of the associated dangers.) This suggests that something similar could be going on in the brain.
So I have to wonder -- how many of us who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome have experienced this symptom, or something similar? If so, have you ever been tested for narcolepsy? Leave your comments below!
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