Natural Sleep Remedies for Fibromyalgia Sleeplessness

Fibromyalgia impacts all aspects of your life. It seems like pain and fatigue are your constant companions. Making it worse is the fact that many fibromyalgia sufferers also have great difficulty getting a decent night’s sleep. Research clearly indicates that pain, fatigue and sleeplessness are 3 symptoms that plague those with fibromyalgia. When you don’t sleep well, especially for an extended period of time, increased fatigue and pain is often the result. With the increased pain and fatigue comes more sleeplessness.[1] It’s a vicious cycle with seemingly no end.

Fibromyalgia and Sleep

Sleep disturbances are found in a higher percentage of those individuals who have fibromyalgia. In fact, research indicates problems sleeping appear to dominate their lives. The latest diagnostic tool from the American College of Rheumatology uses sleep difficulty as one of the primarly indicators of fibromyalgia. Self-reporting fibromyalgia patients say that sleep issues cause problems in a number of ways that affect the ability to carry on with their lives. These issues include:[2]

  • Able to only sleep for blocks of time and not the whole night
  • When awakened, difficulty going back to sleep
  • Resultant daytime sleepiness leads to naps and daytime naps lead to less sleep at nights
  • Lack of sleep leading to or enhancing fatigue
  • Increased pain resulting from not enough or poor quality sleep

Since sleep is essential for the health and well being of all individuals, not only those who suffer from fibromyalgia, it is important to learn methods for improving sleep patterns. While sleeping medications are frequently used, including common sedatives like zolpidem and zaleplon, or low-doses of the antidepressants tricyclics, sleeping pills in any form are not considered healthy when used for a long period of time.

What is required is a more natural approach to enhancing your ability to sleep. In fact, there are various types of sleep remedies that can address your issues without resorting to a traditional pharmaceutical solution.

The Herbal Approach

There are several herbs known to help individuals relax which can aid sleep. Among them are popular home remedies that have been used for centuries. These include:

  • Chamomile – Chamomile tea has long been used to help people relax. It is a well-known herb with a calming sedative effect. Some research has shown it actually does calm down those with specific conditions like anxiety. For best results, use Roman Chamomile. Chamomile should not be used if you have an allergy to the yarrow, tansy, feverfew and Artemisia plants.[3]
  • Valerian – Another well-known aid for sleeplessness, this herb has established a legitimate place in both the scientific and folk lore fields. However, medical research is ongoing and is still considered inconclusive. Valerian is often tried by those individuals with sleep disorders like insomnia who are looking for a reprieve from sleeplessness.[4] Valerian helps people fall asleep and stay asleep.

Life Style or Behavioral Approaches

Besides herbal remedies, there are other natural means for remedying the ability to get a good night’s sleep. These involve changing your approach to sleep. You have to adopt a regiment that will remove distractions, reduce stress, eliminate certain foods and drinks, and alter any other common sleep disrupting habits.  The behavioral changes may include:

  • Establishing a routine time for going to sleep and waking each day with few variations
  • Exercising but never closer than three hours before bed time
  • If you must exercise prior to bed due to schedule limitations, it should assume more of a meditative form such as yoga.
  • Learning to meditate to relax the mind and ease anxiety that may keep you awake
  • Avoiding eating a heavy meal before you go to bed. A light snack is, however, appropriate. Make sure you avoid eating or drinking any product containing caffeine, including coffee, cocoa, certain soft drinks or chocolate, and even certain teas
  • Avoiding alcohol because alcohol disrupts restful sleep
  • Enjoying long, relaxing and soothing soak in a warm bath before settling down for the night
  • Reading in bed with a book but avoiding anything that may be too stimulating such as a mystery novel or a thriller or, depending upon your tastes, a book on politics or Hollywood celebrities
  • Avoid watching television or working on the computer. You are better off listening to a book on CD, soothing music or a relaxation tape or CD
  • Making sure your bedroom is suited for sleeping. The bed, pillows, lights and mattress are important tools for getting a good night’s sleep. A body length pillow may be conducive to helping you sleep comfortably as will a firm mattress. What you require most of all is quiet. A noisy bedroom can keep you awake or result in an unsettled sleep. If you cannot escape the noise, consider buying a good pair of ear plugs or noise reduction headphones. Do not immediately opt for sleeping pills. They can actually exacerbate the problem.[5]
  • Making sure your family and significant other realize how important it is for you to maintain a regular bedtime. This also applies to when you get up and when you take a nap. While it may seem a great idea to nap during the day, do not take long naps. A short nap is best.
  • Do not forget that the bedroom is also a place for intimate relationships. In fact, sex is actually beneficial in inducing warmth, relaxation and, as a by-product, eventual sleep.

If you want to control the symptoms of fibromyalgia, finding ways to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is critical. Learning how to establish a regular sleep pattern by creating the right atmosphere and setting a sleep schedule will go a long way to ensuring that this occurs.

Conclusion

Sleep is essential for everyone. It becomes even more critical if you have fibromyalgia. This syndrome closely links pain and fatigue with a lack of sleep. As a result, if you do not regularly get a good night’s sleep, you are more than likely to aggravate your pain and increase your fatigue. Talking to your doctor will help. Yet, the best way to manage your sleep disorder is to look at your lifestyle and modify it and your behavior to create the right environment to encourage sleep. In doing so, you are better able to manage several fibromyalgia symptoms that are most life disrupting.

References

[1] Nicassio, PM; Moxham, EG; Schuman, CE; and Gevirtz, RN (2002). “The Contribution of Pain, Reported Sleep Quality, and Depressive Symptoms to Fatigue in Fibromyalgia.” Pain 2002, 100(1):271-279.

[2] Theadom, A; and Cropley, M (2010). “‘This constant being woken up is the worst thing’ – Experiences of Sleep in Fibromyalgia Syndrome.” Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(23): 1939-1947.

[3] Heber, D (2005). PDR For Herbal Medicines 3rd Edition. Montvale, NJ: Thomson PDR.

[4] Boon, H; and Smith, M (2009). 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs 2nd ed. Toronto, ON: Robert Rose, Inc.

[5] Arthritis Foundation (2006). Good Living With Fibromyalgia. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation.

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015