Fibromyalgia can be a debilitating, chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, and poor quality of sleep. People with fibromyalgia experience a heightened sensitivity to pain, meaning that the areas of the brain that process pain signals interpret painful sensations as being more intense than in those without the condition.
What Kind of Sleep Difficulties Affect Those with Fibromyalgia?
Sleep problems are one of the most common complaints that fibromyalgia sufferers deal with on a daily basis. To complicate matters, poor sleep will also magnify the intensity of other fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain and cognitive difficulties. The body also takes time during sleep to heal and repair, so poor sleep quality results in a vicious cycle for those dealing with chronic pain conditions. Some of the specific sleep issues include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up frequently throughout the night
- Vivid dreams
- Restless legs
- Feeling “tired but wired” – when you feel exhausted, but your mind won’t stop racing
- Oversleeping (more than an 8-10-hour window)
- Waking up fatigued despite getting enough sleep
8 Tips for More Restorative Sleep
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule – waking up and going to sleep around the same time every day is very important for those with fibromyalgia. The time you wake up in the morning serves to set your 24-hour clock, or your circadian rhythm. It also ensures that you become tired around the same time each night. Keeping a routine sleep schedule can be difficult, especially on weekends or vacations, but you will be rewarded with a better quality of sleep the more you’re able to stick with it.
- Limit screen-time before bed – eliminating as much artificial light as possible before bedtime starts signaling your brain that it’s time for sleeping. Try putting away mobile devices, turning off the television, and dimming the lights in your house a couple of hours as you wind down for the day. If you absolutely must watch TV or use your cell phone before bed, you can try blue-light-blocking glasses to filter the light from your screens.
- Darken your bedroom – it may seem excessive, but any source of light can truly disturb your body’s natural sleep cycle. This includes bright alarm clock displays, lights on other electronics like modems, and light coming in from windows. Covering up bright displays and getting blinds or, even better, blackout curtains can create a dark environment conducive to getting the best possible rest.
- Keep it cool – keeping the room you sleep in nice and cool promotes a healthy sleep environment. Exactly what temperature can vary between individuals but try experimenting in the 60-67-degree Fahrenheit range to see what works best for your optimal sleep. When lying down in bed to go to sleep, your body temperature drops to initiate the sleeping process and keeping your bedroom at the ideal temperature can help facilitate this process.
- Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime – avoiding eating or drinking too much before bed can help you sleep through the night. Going to sleep with a full stomach can keep you awake as your body works through the digestive process. Eating a spicy meal or drinking alcohol can also cause acid reflux, keeping you awake. Drinking excessive fluids in the hour or two leading up to bedtime can have you making several trips to the bathroom throughout the night as well.
- Make sure your mattress is of good quality – even if you create the proper sleep environment in your bedroom and take time to wind down before bed, if you’re sleeping on an old, unsupportive mattress it could ruin an otherwise good night of sleep. Investing in a quality bed can help to ensure that it’s not causing a flare-up of your fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Wind down before going to sleep – doing some things to help you relax before going to bed can help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, meditating, or listening to mellow music are all good ways to prepare your body for sleep.
- Get regular, gentle exercise – sometimes exercising is the last thing you want to do when your body is hurting, but even going for a 5-minute walk, doing some gentle stretches, or spinning your legs out on a stationary bicycle can all do wonders for achieving a better quality of sleep at night.
Natural Help for Fibromyalgia Sufferers
When you live with a condition that is considered chronic, odds are good that your search for helpful care options is never really done. Upper cervical chiropractic care, a niche within the chiropractic profession, has been giving answers and relief to those with fibromyalgia where there were once none. Since fibromyalgia is classified as a pain processing disorder, upper cervical chiropractic care addresses the system that is responsible for sending, receiving and interpreting pain signals – the nervous system. More specifically we focus on the brainstem, the area where your brain and spinal cord meet. The brainstem acts as a relay station between the brain and body when it comes to processing pain sensations.
There are two vertebrae that protect the brainstem – the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). This part of your spine sits just beneath the base of your skull. When a spinal misalignment occurs here, it can distort the way pain signals are interpreted, leading to fibromyalgia. An upper cervical chiropractic adjustment can restore normal spinal alignment, and with time to heal, lead to the reduction or resolution of your fibromyalgia symptoms naturally.