New research demonstrates that the sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia have a substantial impact on quality of life, suggesting that sleep problems may need to be more of a focus for treatment.
Fibromyalgia is frequently accompanied by sleep disorders, including:
However, another sleep problem is suspected of being a core feature of the illness. It's called "unrefreshing sleep."
In this study of nearly 2,200 people with fibromyalgia, researchers report that:
- 11% reported no symptoms related to sleep difficulty,
- Nearly 26% reported one symptoms related to sleep difficulty,
- And 63.5% reported two or more such symptoms.
The more symptoms people reported, the worse they rated their health-related quality of life. The impact of sleep-related problems was significantly greater for people with fibromyalgia than for health people in the control group, suggesting "a uniqueness of the burden of sleep difficulties" for people with this condition.
Researchers concluded that sleep problems should be emphasized more by doctors and patients when deciding on treatments.
I whole-heartedly believe that our sleep problems should get more attention. Some experts won't even diagnose fibromyalgia in someone who doesn't have disrupted sleep, and some researchers believe the illness may be the result of long-term sleep dysfunction.
While that may not be true of every case, I think it applies to at least one subgroup. I've had sleep disorders my entire life, and I do believe they lead to poor healing, chronic pain, and, eventually, fibromyalgia.
Most of us know that the better we sleep, the better we feel - and vise versa. However, the goal of treatment for most of us is alleviating pain, with little consideration for the fact that improving sleep quality may well be the best way achieve pain relief.
A few years ago, I saw research calling for sleep studies as part of the fibromyalgia diagnosis and treatment process. While it's an expensive and, quite honestly, grueling process, I agree with that. (See: Getting a Sleep Study with Fibromyalgia
Have you focused on getting sleep problems diagnosed and treated? What helps you sleep better? What sleep treatments haven't worked for you? Leave your comments below!
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