What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia causes stiffness and pain across the body. It’s a medical syndrome that leaves sufferers in chronic pain. A common outcome of this is sleep issues and extreme fatigue during the day.
As you may already know, this chronic illness is especially difficult to deal with as pinpointing the causes of symptoms is extremely difficult.
The illness affects each person individually. Therefore, there’s an extraordinary amount of people who are misdiagnosed. For example, they may be complaining about symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. But in reality, they’re describing a symptom of fibromyalgia.
Many people go years not knowing they have fibromyalgia. Having said that, the increasing amount of research being done into the illness is giving medical professionals a better grasp of fibromyalgia symptoms and how to distinguish them from other health issues.
One of the most damaging and common symptoms of fibromyalgia are pain and sleep problems. The combination of the two make each other progressively worse and the chronic illness becomes more extreme.
If you’re looking for ways to get a restful night’s sleep, you’ll be interested to learn about some of the methods to do so in this article. They are effective and can make huge improvements to your condition to help you cope better and live the best life possible
Sleep Problems and Fibromyalgia
Anyone with fibromyalgia, or chronic pain, will know how tough it is getting a good night’s sleep. While adequate sleep is important for everyone, it’s even more so the case for people with fibromyalgia.
Dealing with pain is exhausting enough, but adding sleep deprivation on top?
It pretty much makes you unable to function. Your mood and energy are depleted, and the pain symptoms flare up even more than usual.
What Causes the Sleep Problems?
The number one thing is pain. Having constant pains across your body with little to no relief is clearly an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes, no matter how tired you are, falling into a deep sleep just feels impossible.
Studies show us that fibromyalgia sufferers also a have disturbed sleep pattern. This just amplifies the poor sleeping effects. Furthermore, the body becomes incredibly sensitive to sounds and light.
It often feels like there’s no hope, however, there are some great tips you can use to help you sleep better. Take a look below.
The sleep and wake cycle that your body operates on relies on darkness and light. When it becomes dark, your body naturally releases melatonin. It’s a hormone that starts prepping your body to get ready for sleep.
However, light from artificial sources can cause your melatonin production to diminish. Therefore, getting a restful night’s sleep is much less likely to happen.
The best tip is to cut out as much artificial light around bedtime a possible. Experiencing complete darkness is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to sleep better.
Using black-out blinds should be the first thing on your list. They are developed using materials that are specifically designed to resist being penetrated by light. These blinds work well to keep out all light, including streetlights or sunlight.
Be sure to open the black-out blinds in the morning to expose yourself to the sunlight. It’s a natural way to help you stay on track in a healthy sleeping pattern.
Sleep masks are another great way to reduce all light. Even the slightest artificial light, from things like digital clocks, can have an impact on people with fibromyalgia. Combining black-out blinds with a sleep mask ensures complete darkness.
Studies have revealed that certain light waves can have a major impact on decreasing your melatonin production. In particular, shorter wavelengths that are emitted from electronic items. These include laptops, phones, or any type of screen.
Since fibromyalgia sufferers are extremely sensitive to light, being exposed to light wavelengths causes sleep issues.
If you struggle to get to sleep, your devices could be one of the biggest reasons. Try switching off your phone, laptop, and TV at least 1-2 hours before going to sleep.
Dealing With Noise
It may sound counterintuitive initially, but using white noise can be an extremely useful tool for fibromyalgia sufferers.
White noise uses a variety of sound frequencies that remain constant. There are never any dips or rises in sound. As a result, it can become a very soothing noise in the background.
So, if you’re always hearing sounds from outside that keep you awake, use white noise. It will drown out any sounds that disrupt you at night. There’s a variety of apps that you can use to play white noise throughout the night.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Researchers are still trying to discover conclusive causes for fibromyalgia, but with no success so far. Despite this, they have been able to develop more solid ideas around the possible things that could trigger the chronic illness.
There’s a huge variety of potential causes. These include things like traumatic experiences and stress injuries, to genetics and depression.
Once major development was when studies found those with arthritis are at a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia. Furthermore, researchers have delved deep into the possible connections associated with the illness.
Medical conditions, like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, and many more are being considered to have a strong link with fibromyalgia.
Mental Health and Fibromyalgia
The research tells us that approximately 20% of people with fibromyalgia also suffer with anxiety or depression. This has pushed researchers to see if depression causes people to mentally experience the pain being worse than it actually is.
They are also wanting to see if depression is caused by the pain, or the other way around.
Studies conducted the University of Michigan looked at possible reasons as to why people with depression and fibromyalgia could feel the pain as being more severe.
Going into it, they already knew fibromyalgia sufferers are generally more sensitive to pain, no matter the state of their mental health. So, they focused on antidepressant medication.
Their theory was that if it could help treat their depression, the extremity of their pain symptoms may also be reduced too. However, they came to the conclusion that the medication to improve depressive symptoms had no real effect on the pain symptoms.
This is possible proof that there are physical causes of fibromyalgia, rather than mental ones, and that’s where the research should be focused.
Further Methods Of Coping with Fibromyalgia
Currently, no cure for this chronic illness exists. The painful symptoms often come and go randomly and there are yet to be conclusive reasons as to why it can be so erratic. However, you can learn how to deal with the pain better.
Better sleep is one of the best ways to improve the condition. Maintaining a stable sleeping pattern is vital for preventing sleep disorders.
Interestingly, sound stress is amplified among people dealing with chronic pain. Try putting yourself in an environment that’s quieter from time to time. It can help your body feel relieved from being in stress-mode due to noises.
This could be part of a ritualistic relaxation practice. Using meditation, or deep breathing, in a quiet place will do wonders for your mind and body.
Exercising is a fantastic way to improve painful symptoms. Partaking in low impact exercise are great for keeping your body active. You could try swimming, yoga, or even just walking.
Lastly, speaking with a physician about your condition is highly recommended. They can help you use medication that’s tailored to your specific symptoms.
Due to how sporadic fibromyalgia can be for each individual, a single treatment is very unlikely. There are so many different symptoms and possible causes that relying on just one form of treatment won’t be enough.
Instead, focusing on the numerous coping strategies can drastically improve your condition. This means combining pharma treatments with other ones too (like improving sleep).
A good physician will take note of the symptoms and put you onto an initial plan to test what you best respond to. For most people with fibromyalgia however, it will come down to both pain symptoms and sleep, equally.
They’re intertwined and make each other worse, so dealing with just one isn’t enough.
Some of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
⦁Stiff muscles and joints
⦁Irritable bowel syndrome
⦁Noise and light sensitivity
⦁Tingling and numbness
⦁Mental health problems, including anxiety and depression
The mixture of sleep deprivation and chronic pain is a difficult combination to deal with. Being in pain is one of the biggest causes for being unable to sleep. But being incapable of getting restful sleep causes the pain to be worst the next day.
It’s like a vicious cycle that seems unlikely to improve.
However, by using some of the tips to sleep better above, getting proper sleep is very possible. In fact, incorporating those tips everyday will make it very likely to get undisturbed sleep consistently.