Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is sleep keeping you awake at night? Poor sleep in people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome by Celeste Cooper

Dysfunctional sleep—something those of us with FM and CFS know only too well—no surprise—can cause agitation, phobia, sleep deprivation psychosis, headaches, cognitive deficit, problems with gait, weight problems, and it can affect our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and weaken our body’s immune response. Though sleep dysfunction can be part of any chronic pain condition, its effects are prevalent in fibromyalgia (FM), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Both disorders affect multiple body systems and have particular overlapping conditions of bruxism, severe headaches, and periodic limb movement, which are present or affected by sleep. Whether it is from sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, or disordered patterns, sleep disorders have a profound effect on our symptoms and  affect our daytime quality of life.

Researchers have been looking at sleep function in FM and ME/CFS disorders for decades. A subgroup of fibromyalgia patients also have restless leg syndrome (RLS). When RLS occurs during sleep, it is called periodic limb movement (PLM). Those of us who experience this phenomenon, PLM, are unaware until we are told by our bed partner or the disarray of our bed linens. It’s no wonder we don’t feel rested when we have been running a marathon all night. In these cases, and in the case of suspected sleep apnea or other issues mentioned previously, a sleep study is order to determine if there is something interfering with sleep that can be treated.

Poor sleep not only affects our mood, it also affects our body. When we don’t feel rested, we are less likely to move very far away from our recliner. But, not only do we need to move to help fibromyalgia muscle symptoms, we also need to move to improve the circulation of lymph. The lymph system, unlike blood vessels, relies solely on physical movement to catch cellular debris, waste and toxins in the filters, called nodes, and move it out of the body via the lymph system. If it is not functioning reliably, peripheral swelling occurs and our general health is affected.

Because both FM and CFS are thought to affect the nervous and immune systems and/or vice versa, it is important to address sleep issues so we can minimize other symptoms.. (See my last blog, Exercise and Fibro.)

Helpful strategies and aggravating comorbid or co-existing conditions are covered in IntegrativeTherapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: TheMind-Body Connection.

Celeste’s other blogs related to sleep:

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Update as of April 2015

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate
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Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

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Light AR, Bateman L, Jo D, Hughen RW, Vanhaitsma TA, White AT, Light KC. Gene expression alterations at baseline and following moderate exercise in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome. J Intern Med. 2011 May 26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2011.02405.x. [Epub ahead of print]

McBeth J, Lacey RJ, Wilkie R. Predictors of new-onset widespread pain in older adults: Results from a population-based prospective cohort study in the UK. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014.  66(3):757-767.

Prados G, Miró E, Martínez MP, Sánchez AI, López S, Sáez G. Fibromyalgia: gender differences and sleep-disordered breathing. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2013 Nov-Dec;31(6 Suppl 79):S102-10. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Sivertsen B, Lallukka T, Salo P et al.  Insomnia as a risk factor for ill health: results from the large population-based prospective HUNT Study in Norway. J Sleep Res. 2013. [Oct 30 Epub ahead of print.]

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