How can I get better sleep if I have fibromyalgia?

Good sleep hygiene for a person living with fibromyalgia means developing habits that help you get the rest you need. Some simple guidelines can make a big difference when it comes to getting good, uninterrupted sleep.

For example, make your bedroom a soothing place, without the distractions of TV or computers. Use comfortable bedding and sleepwear. Also, keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.

Go to bed and get up at the same times every day. Avoid napping during the day so that you will be ready for sleep at your regular bedtime.

In the hours before you go to bed, avoid caffeine and alcohol and don't eat for several hours before going to bed. This will allow you to fall asleep more easily.

Finally, try to relax before you go to bed. Listen to calming music or take a soothing bath. You might try meditation for relaxation. By following all of these recommended practices, you can help establish good sleep hygiene that will lead to restful nights.
If you’re struggling with sleeping because of fibromyalgia or chronic pain, keep these strategies in mind to help improve and protect your sleep:
  • Emphasize your rest. People with fibromyalgia simply cannot shirk their sleep routine. Make sure sleep stays a top priority, by setting up a schedule that allows for plenty of rest, and by creating a sleep environment that is relaxing, quiet, dark and conducive for sleep.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise can help manage pain itself. It will also strengthen your sleep-wake cycle and help you sleep better. Schedule exercise earlier in the day and outdoors in sunlight if you can.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Meditation, massage and mind-body exercise are also powerful tools for pain management and for sleep. One study found that after three months of regular tai chi practice (two hour-long sessions per week), pain and depression among fibromyalgia patients had declined and sleep had improved.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. These chemicals may make you feel “better” in the very short term, but they disrupt sleep and increase stress, among other negative consequences. With fibromyalgia, your body is coping with enough stress without exposing it to taxing chemical stimulants and depressants.
Dawn Marcus
Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep each night for good health. Unfortunately, most people with fibromyalgia have problems with sleep. Getting better sleep will help make your other pain treatments more effective.

Make sure you tell your doctor about any sleep problems you may be having. A good way to rate your sleep is to use the Sleep Quality Scale: Rate your sleep quality over the last 24 hours from zero to ten, 0 = best possible sleep, and 10 = worst possible sleep.

Your doctor can suggest a variety of changes that might improve the quality of your sleep. Occasionally, you may need medications to help regulate your sleep. Talk to your doctor about medications that have also been shown to reduce other fibromyalgia symptoms:
  • Antidepressants: duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Antiepileptic drugs: pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Sleep disorder drug: sodium oxybate (Xyrem)
The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.