A new study released earlier this week has strongly tied fibromyalgia and widespread pain to poor, non-restorative sleep. Poor sleep is generally defined as sleep after which the person wakes up feeling mentally exhausted, physically sleepy and not refreshed. The study was published in the peer reviewed journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. Could a new cause of fibromyalgia have been revealed with this recent study?
The study was large, following 4,300 older adults. All of the study participants said they either had no widespread pain or had a small amount of widespread pain at the beginning of the study. The participants were followed closely for three years, and a variety of factors such as lifestyle, overall health and anxiety levels were taken into account and recorded.
At the three-year follow up, 19% of study members said they were experiencing widespread pain. While all of the recorded factors such as anxiety and overall health were linked to the increase in pain, the most significant link was that of poor sleep. Some in the medical community now feel that fibromyalgia may actually be a sleep disorder.
Fibromyalgia is marked by widespread pain throughout the body and its exact cause is currently unknown; but the disorder being strongly linked to poor sleep may be a step in the right direction toward finding a cure because in the future, it could possibly point to poor sleep as one major culprit in the disorder. A new cause of fibromyalgia may possibly have been revealed.
In addition to this new finding of fibromyalgia being strongly linked to non-restorative sleep, poor quality sleep has always been known to affect the central nervous system. Numerous types of disorders, including syndromes that cause inflammation, are impacted by the quality of a person’s sleep cycles. In addition to inflammatory conditions, there are serious, even life-threatening conditions, which can be impacted by poor sleep. For example, seizure disorder is directly affected by non-restorative sleep, and seizures can be initiated by sleep deprivation.
Those who suffer from chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia often say they are unable to get a good night’s sleep. Accompanying this complaint are numerous symptoms such as physical weakness, anxiety and depression. Poor sleep symptoms may include being unable to get comfortable in bed, frequent waking, heart palpitations, grinding and clenching the teeth, sinus and nasal congestion, acid reflux, and jaw pain.
Some in the medical community say that this new finding could be extremely significant. Dr. Gerard Meskill recommends that patients with fibromyalgia get tested to see whether they are actually suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. He notes that in previous sleep studies done with fibromyalgia patients, the participants improved when they were given a medication called sodium oxybate, which increases the amount of slow wave sleep.
Previous to this study, which may reveal a direct cause of fibromyalgia in the future, promising research is being conducted that links increased nerve fibers in the hands to fibromyalgia symptoms. Other possible physical causes are also being explored. Is it possible that fibromyalgia could be caused by a combination of physical factors, including poor sleep? Has a new cause of fibromyalgia been revealed? Researchers continue to study this disorder to hopefully bring relief to millions worldwide who suffer from this debilitating condition.
By: Rebecca Savastio