Besides chronic pain, another common problem associated with fibromyalgia is the inability to sleep well. Another symptom that can be worsened due to lack of sleep is morning fatigue.
To help sufferers sleep, doctors may prescribe a sleep aid that will help them rest through the night. This will help reduce fatigue caused by sleep deprivation, but to help with fatigue in general, your doctor may prescribe other medications.
Problems with Sleep for Fibromyalgia Patients
Even if people with fibromyalgia get several hours of sleep, they may still wake up feeling fatigued because they are not getting restorative sleep.
They will wake up feeling tired rather than refreshed mainly because they are not getting the deepest sleep there is, which is called delta sleep.
The lack of delta sleep can cause healthy people to feel fatigued, have cognitive difficulties, be irritable and have muscle aches, some of the same symptoms people with fibromyalgia have, within a few days.
Some of the other problems with sleep that fibromyalgia sufferers may experience include:
- Difficulty falling to sleep
- Waking early or frequent awakenings at night
- Vivid dreams
- Restless legs
- Periodic leg movements
Poor sleep habits can exacerbate problems with falling or staying asleep for anyone, but especially for patients with fibromyalgia.
Poor sleep habits may include not having a set bedtime, an uncomfortable bed, a noisy environment, tension or worry, and a lack of control of light or temperature in the bedroom.
Developing good sleep habits can help improve sleep by making it easier to fall asleep. A good sleep routine can help people relax, wind down and prepare themselves mentally and physically for sleep. Some people practice meditation, take a warm bath or even relax by having a glass of wine an hour or so before bedtime.
Using Medications to Aid Sleep
The main cause of sleep issues for fibromyalgia patients is due to pain. Chronic pain often causes sleep deprivation because it can be hard to get comfortable enough to fall asleep or the pain associated with the disease will wake sufferers up in the middle of the night.
To help combat sleep issues, doctors will usually prescribe a combination of pain medications and sleep aids.
Using large doses of sleep medications can often cause hangovers for some people, but if taken in smaller doses, they can help people sleep without residual effects once they wake up.
Along with medications specifically designed to help people fall asleep, doctors may also prescribe antidepressants to help patients sleep.
Many antidepressants can help make patients drowsy and sleep better at night and, since depression is a symptom of fibromyalgia, it also helps patients mentally feel better.
Prescription Sleep Aids and Recommended Doses
There are several prescription sleep aids that doctors recommend for their fibromyalgia patients. Some of the medications may be addictive, so patients should follow their doctors’ directions for taking them. Some of the prescription medications include:
Ambien 10 mg – the generic name for this drug is zolpidem.
The recommended way to take this drug is to take 1/2 to 1 1/2 at bedtime. For people whose sleep tends to be disrupted, they can leave an extra 1/2 to 1 tablet at their bedside to take as needed to help them sleep through the night.
Desyrel 50 mg – also known as trazodone, this is an anti-anxiety medication that can help people sleep.
It is recommended that 1/2 to 6 pills are taken at bedtime. Even though these pills are sedating, 50 to 250 mg can be taken at one time to treat anxiety. No more than 450 mg should be taken per day or, if the patient is on other anti-depressants, no more than 150 mg should be taken.
Klonopin 1/2 mg – the generic name for this drug is clonazepam, which is often prescribed for anxiety.
When taking this medication, it should be started slowly then increased as needed. Patients can take 1/2 to 6 tablets as needed. It helps with sleep, pain and restless leg syndrome.
Doxylamine – this is sold under the brand names Unisom or Benadryl. Take 25 mg at night to help with sleep and it may also help with the pain.
There are several prescription medications that can be used to aid sleep for patients who have fibromyalgia and they can also help those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Your doctor can recommend medications to aid with both sleep and pain to help you get a full night’s rest.
Natural Sleep Aids
Some patients are uncomfortable with taking some sleep medications because they can be addictive.
Fortunately, for them, there are natural sleep remedies that can help patients get a better night’s sleep and help reduce pain to make it less likely they will awaken in the middle of the night.
Some natural sleep aids include taking supplements that may help promote sleep in some of the same ways a prescription sleep aid does.
Taking calcium and magnesium at bedtime can help some people get to sleep and stay asleep for longer. It is recommended that people take 500 to 600 mg of calcium and 100 to 200 mg of magnesium to promote sleep.
There is a revitalizing sleep formula patients can take that includes passionflower, wild lettuce, L-Theanine and hops that can be taken 30 to 90 minutes before it is time to go to bed. It can also be used in the daytime to help with anxiety problems.
One simple way to help promote a deep, restful sleep is to drink a glass of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey mixed into it.
Also, sleeping on your side, rather than flat on your back, can help reduce problems with sleep apnea and snoring.