Fibromyalgia and Insomnia: Cause or Effect?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is not quite understood. Its most prevalent symptoms are excruciating joint and muscle pain, severe fatigue and extreme heightening of sensitivity to odors, noises, bright lights and touch. Other symptoms can include chest pain, anxiety, dizziness, sleep disturbances, mood changes, depression, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands and difficulty concentrating.
Fibromyalgia is constantly being studied and to this date, doctors haven’t been able to determine what causes it. Currently, one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, insomnia, is being studied as an actual cause of fibromyalgia and not simply a symptom (as a disability examiner for SSA, I found it fairly common to see sleep problems and fibromylagia listed on disability applications together).
Patients with fibromyalgia usually have sleep disturbances during their most restful stage of sleep – the delta sleep stage. These disturbances keep them from feeling well-rested and psychologically healthy, in addition to interrupting critical tissue repair during the night. Studies have shown that insomnia in the night leads to more pain during the day and even less restful sleep the next night; a vicious cycle for fibromyalgia sufferers that is hard to end without pain medication and sleeping pills.
Other studies have shown that when people without fibromyalgia were disrupted during their delta sleep stage, they developed symptoms such as achy join and muscle pain, fatigue and sensitivities often associated with fibromyalgia. This information has left researchers wondering if insomnia is an effect or an actual cause of the disorder.
New studies are being planned to take a closer look at the relationship between insomnia and fibromyalgia.
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