Sleep Tips for Fibromyalgia Sufferers

Proper sleep is crucial to managing fibromyalgia

It's a vicious cycle: A poor night's sleep makes your fibromyalgia symptoms worse, and then the pain makes it hard to fall asleep at night. Restless legs syndrome, a problem for many people with fibromyalgia, also can keep you from getting the rest you need.

Sleep is a crucial piece of the fibromyalgia puzzle. In fact, some research shows that disruptions during the deepest levels of sleep can cause the onset of fibromyalgia symptoms.

Try these suggestions to get better sleep:

Adopt a daily routine
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid daytime napping and create a nighttime relaxation ritual. This could include a warm bath, reading or listening to music as a way to wind down.

Watch your diet
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep and alcohol can disrupt sleep. Also, avoid spicy or fried foods if they cause heartburn or indigestion. And so your bladder won't wake you, try not to consume any liquids right before bed.

Time your workouts
Exercise can help you sleep better at night. Some experts advise finishing at least three hours before bedtime because the stimulation may make it difficult to fall asleep right away. Others, however, point out that exercise can relax you and help you fall asleep shortly after participating in it.

Medication can help
If lifestyle changes are not enough, medication is an option. Tricyclic antidepressants can help you achieve restorative sleep, but they may leave you drowsy during the day. If you have restless legs syndrome, your doctor may prescribe sedatives such as diazepam (Valium). On the downside, the extended use of benzodiazepines can lower your pain threshold and ultimately exacerbate pain. Plus, they can be extremely addictive. Sleep medications and muscle relaxants can also help, so talk to your doctor about your options.

Reviewed by Steven King, M.D.

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