Fibromyalgia: Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation carried out a survey of adults in the U.S to ask about their sleep patterns and experience of pain. The survey found strong links between pain and sleep which is particularly relevant to suffered of fibromyalgia.

The survey sampled 1,029 people, of which 48% rated their general health highly, and 44% rated their physical health highly. Those that rated their health or quality of life highly got approximately 30 minutes more sleep than those who rated poor and fair. One of the key findings from this survey was that good health was related to good sleep. It was also concluded that pain was associated with worse health and with lower sleep quality, more sleep problems and greater sleep debt.

Those experiencing pain had worse sleep quality than those without pain. On average, those with no pain slept 7.3 hours in the past week, while those with acute pain slept 7.0 hours and those with chronic pain slept 6.7 hours.

Findings highlighted that 45% of those with acute pain reported a good quality of sleep whereas a much larger 65% of those with no pain reported good sleep quality. Just 37% of those with chronic pain reported good or very good sleep.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia you will probably already be aware that lack of sleep is a common symptom. Unfortunately for sufferers, it’s a Catch 22 situation – the pain prevents sleep and sleep is known to help relieve the pain. There are, however, habits you can establish and changes you can make to your sleeping environment to encourage a good night’s sleep.

  • It’s important to keep your sleeping space cool. Research suggests that 18.3°c (65 fahrenheit) is the optimum temperature for the bedroom and promotes the best sleep. Studies have even shown that some forms of insomnia are associated with badly regulated temperature. By being too hot or cold, shivering and sweating can make for a restless night sleep (even if you don’t know its happening).
  • There’s no one size fits all option when it comes to what kind of mattress and pillows you should have, but you should certainly look at replacing them when they become lumpy. Breathable cotton sheets are recommended to ensure you don’t overheat.
  • Light can have a huge impact on how well you sleep. Although we have an internal clock which mirrors day and night, light and dark are powerful indicators for your body when it comes to knowing if it should be sleeping or awake. A light bedroom (no curtains or thin curtains) can have a detrimental impact on how well you sleep. If you can, invest in blackout blinds.
  • Artificial light from the television, laptops, phones and other technology can send messages to the brain that tell it that it should be awake. It surpasses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Got a bright alarm clock on your beside table? Pop a t-shirt over it until the morning.
  • Results from the Bedroom Poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who made their bed in the morning were 19% more likely to have a better night sleep.
  • Noise pollution can have an effect on how easily you sleep. If the sound of cars, and the neighbourhood keep you awake, consider a white noise machine or even plugging in a fan to create a background hum and mask unwanted noise. Earplugs are also a good noise blocking solution and are available in various materials so you can find some that are comfortable for you.
  • Fresh lavender or essential oil has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a more relaxed state. A study has also shown those who sniffed lavender before bed had deeper sleep.

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, away from the stresses of everyday life. By making it as conducive as possible for sleep this can help you to get good quality sleep and in turn help to relieve fibromyalgia pain.

Here at The Fibro Clinic on Harley Street, we are dedicated to helping our patients with the very latest research and technology. To arrange a consultation, call us on 020 7118 0350.

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