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Fibromyalgia and Insomnia

Posted on October 10, 2019

When you have fibromyalgia, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia, sleep disruptions, physical pain, and other symptoms of fibromyalgia frequently keep MyFibroTeam members up all night.

“Insomnia is the worst symptom of this illness. Every night I'm tired and crying. Does anyone else suffer severe sleep disturbances?” asked one woman. “Every night!” replied another. “You’ll find me up reading the ‘The Hobbit’ at 5 a.m.”

Some MyFibroTeam members feel lucky if they can get two or three hours sleep a night; others don’t sleep at all. “This is why I work nights,” one woman explained. “I’ve been up since Monday morning. It’s now Wednesday. Sleep and I don't get along very well.”

Fibro-Related Sleep Disruptors

Members report that chronic lack of sleep exacerbates pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, including:

Head and Neck Pain

Tenderness and sensitivity around the head, neck and ears, sparks lots of conversation on MyFibroTeam. “I can’t put any pressure at the base of my skull so I have to sleep on very flat pillows,” reported one member. Others use “pillows that fit the curve of their necks,” or “three under the knees and feet.” One woman said her bed feels like “laying on bricks.” “I sleep better in my recliner,” she added.

Night Sweats

Some MyFibroTeam members report excessive sweating during sleep. “Every night, my T-shirts are drenched,” wrote one member. Another uses “towels on top of the sheets.” One member said her night sweats became “less frequent” after buying “cooling pillows and a weightless blanket.”

Sleep Apnea

Members who snore loudly or feel tired the next day have gotten tested for sleep apnea, a condition which causes breathing to stop and start throughout the night. “I was waking up every three hours and getting just 20 minutes of deep sleep,” shared one member. “After being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea, I now sleep eight hours a night. I feel great, have energy, and no pain, headache, or tiredness.” Your doctor can order a sleep study to diagnose the disorder.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Members also report having this sleep disorder, which involves involuntary leg movements. “Muscle relaxers really helped my excruciating spasms, back pain, and insomnia,” shared one man. Another member said: “Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) helps a little but the heating pad is really my best friend.”

Remedies for Fibromyalgia Insomnia

Members use a variety of prescription, over-the-counter, and home remedies to reduce pain and promote sleep. They include:

Prescription Medications

Among the drugs used by members for insomnia, the antidepressant Elavil (Amitriptyline) has prompted the most group discussion and been a “life-changer” for some. “Once I started taking it, my whole world changed! I’m usually asleep within an hour of taking it and I actually get six-to-eight hours of sleep every night!” shared one woman. Others had the opposite experience: “It didn’t work for me,” “It made me gain weight,” “I felt tired and groggy the next day,” and “It interacted with my other antidepressants.”

Natural and Herbal Supplements

Melatonin is used most frequently by members, often in combination with other supplements and medications. “I usually take my muscle relaxer at night with a melatonin,” said one man. Others recommend magnesium and B vitamins to calm the body, nerves, and muscles. Consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.

Meditation and Relaxation

Mindfulness techniques help many members calm down before bedtime. One practices "mindful breathing" to “relax my body enough to get comfortable in bed (seven deep breaths in, hold breath, then seven breaths out through the mouth).” Another had a different experience, “Relaxation and deep breathing works well sometimes, other times not so much.”

Medical Marijuana

Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD), used alone or in combination with other remedies (prescribed by their doctors), have helped many members manage fibro insomnia. “I’ve been using CBD oil for three months. The pain is much better and I’m finally sleeping at night,” said one woman. Others report that cannabis helps them fall asleep, but not stay asleep. “I chew one gummy and get about three hours of sleep, max,” explained another member.

Other remedies members use to promote sleep include:

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines
  • Lavender aromatherapy oil
  • Exercise to promote sleep
  • Smartphone sleep apps
  • Warm Epsom salt baths
  • Soothing chamomile tea

On MyFibroTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with fibromyalgia, members talk about a range of personal experiences including insomnia.

 

Here are some questions-and-answers about insomnia and fibromyalgia:

 

Here are some conversations about about insomnia and fibromyalgia: 

 

Can you relate? How do you manage insomnia? ? Share your experience in the comments below or on  MyFibroTeam.

 
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