When patients with fibromyalgia nap during the day to cope with their symptoms, their symptom severity may actually increase, according to a study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. A collaborative team of researchers in New Zealand, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Germany gathered data from an online questionnaire distributed to 1,044 adults with diagnosed fibromyalgia and noticed that frequent and longer naps taken during the day corresponded to greater symptom severity.
“Given the common use of daytime napping in people with fibromyalgia, evidence based guidelines on the use of daytime napping in people with chronic pain are urgently needed,” stated the authors. Before this study, no other groups had investigated the benefits or detriments of daytime naps on patients with fibromyalgia.
The research team was help by the Fibromyalgia Association UK and FibroAction UK to distribute advertisements about the researcher’s questionnaire. Responses were collected for half a year, beginning in September 2010 and ending in February 2011. The questionnaire gathered data on age, sex, and other population descriptors, as well as measures to assess daytime napping behavior. From these data, the researchers divided the patients into two categories: those who regularly napped and those who napped less frequently than once a day.
As described in “Daytime Napping Associated With Increased Symptom Severity in Fibromyalgia Syndrome,” the majority of daily nappers did so during the afternoon without meaning to take a nap. Only 22.5% of participants indicated that they plan their daytime naps. Generally, patients nap because they are tired or exhausted, do not feel well, need to make up for a bad night’s sleep, have a headache, or are experiencing pain. Younger patients napped more than older patients during the day, both in frequency and in duration.
Relating these napping behaviors to fibromyalgia symptoms, the researchers noted that daily nappers had an increased prevalence of comorbidities and pain. A statistical model could predict the class of 65.4% of participants when napping behavior and symptoms were considered.
Fibromyalgia patients experience persistent pain, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and disturbances in nighttime sleep, which affects their ability to conduct everyday activities and makes napping during the day lucrative. Although napping makes patients feel better at the time, this study suggests that overall symptom severity may worsen as naps become longer and more frequent.