If you suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, you might want to know what causes them and, most importantly, how to ease them, especially at night.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by painful muscle spasms in your neck, shoulders, back, and hips. Since this chronic health condition targets the brain, fibromyalgia symptoms are also typically accompanied by fatigue and sleeplessness.
One of the early signs of fibromyalgia is insomnia. Insomnia can become so severe that the patient at a certain point cannot achieve REM sleep anymore.
Due to poor sleep, the inflammatory chemicals in the blood that cause pain and lower your pain threshold are increased, so you will also be more sensitive to pain.
As everything mentioned isn’t enough, poor sleep can trigger weight gain which may also aggravate some fibromyalgia symptoms. The bottom line is that good sleep is an essential weapon against fibromyalgia.
Even though meeting the sandman sometimes seem like a dream that will never come true, there are some simple things you do to improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
What Causes Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the world, and it is estimated that around 10 million people in the US are suffering from it.
Although the disease is very common, doctors still don’t know what exactly causes it. Researchers suggest that there is probably not a single cause of fibromyalgia, but several factors that contribute together and increase the risk of the illness.
Among the most important contributing factors are genetics, associated conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis), physical and emotional stress, injuries, infections and similar.
Chemical imbalances or precisely, changes in levels of certain hormones in the brain also contribute to the development of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Changes in levels of dopamine, serotonin, and cortisol are also crucial for the regulation of sleep. Chemicals in the nervous system, precisely brain, spinal cord, and nerves may lead to abnormal and extreme sensitivity to pain.
Researchers believe that sleep issues are not only a symptom of fibromyalgia but also one of its causes. People who suffer from this delicate condition are trapped in a vicious circle.
Fibromyalgia symptoms cause pain and fatigue and prevent you from getting good sleep and wake up refreshed in the morning. Patients who also experience sleep problems suffer from higher levels of pain.
How to Deal with Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
- It is vital to get help from a doctor and a physical therapist.
- Exercises are recommended to alleviate pain and stretch your muscles.
- Improving your sleep may also help you ease pain and fatigue.
- Relaxation therapy can help you have a better and undisrupted sleep experience.
The Link between Body Pain and Sleep Deprivation
There is a link between body pain and sleep deprivation. Many studies show that insomnia makes pain trigger points worse and that it probably aggravates any kind of pain. Some studies suggest that sleep deprivation produces hyperalgesic changes, basically turning up the “volume” on all pain.
Research conducted in 2007 showed that fragmented sleep or sleep discontinuity also increases pain sensitivity. So, improving your sleep can really help you alleviate pain or at least make sure it doesn’t get worse.
How to Sleep Better with Fibromyalgia Symptoms
1. Sleep schedule:
To increase your chances of sleeping better every night, you need to create a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep training is not only for kids, and the fact is that going to sleep and waking up at about the same time each day can really tune your internal body clock.
Adjusting your body to a sleep schedule will help you stay active during the day and reduce your need to drink caffeinated beverages in the morning or afternoon.
2. Turn off the lights:
This seems rather obvious, but when we say turn off the lights, we mean to really turn off all lights. Lighted electronics also act as stimulants and make your body think you’re not supposed to be asleep.
So, in order not to disturb your body clock, it is highly recommended to avoid lighted electronics (such as your phone or computer) at least an hour before bed. A lighted alarm clock can also disturb your sleep, especially if you wake up and see the time.
Seeing the time triggers arousal and makes it very difficult to go back to sleep.
3. Block sounds:
As light, noise is an enormous sleep disruptor. However, your bedroom also shouldn’t be too quiet, because the quieter the room gets, the louder any noises seem. If you need to block an annoying sound, use a white noise machine or play some relaxing music.
4. Create a comfy bed:
Your mattress, pillows, and sheets can also affect your sleep. If you have a specific problem that might be helped by a different pillow or mattress, ask your doctor about which would be appropriate.
For example, some patients find comfortable using adjustable beds because they take the muscle strain off the lower back. A medium-firm mattress that provides good support may also help.
If you are not sure how to choose the right mattress, check out our article about the different types of mattresses to help you find a model that will bring you the ultimate comfort needed for restful sleep.