Fibromyalgia Patients Sleep Less and Worse Than Healthy People, Study Says

Fibromyalgia Patients Sleep Less and Worse Than Healthy People, Study Says

People with fibromyalgia have more difficulty falling asleep and sleep worse and less compared to the general population, according to the results of a new review. Researchers called for the attention of doctors in treating sleep disturbances in patients with fibromyalgia, as better sleep may help improve disease symptoms.

The study, “Sleep Disturbances In Fibromyalgia: A Meta-Analysis Of Case-Control Studies,” published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, reviewed several previously published studies reporting the contribution of sleep disturbances in the development of fibromyalgia.

The benefits of a good night’s sleep have a positive impact on everyone’s physical and mental health. But according to the researchers, poor sleep affects almost 80 percent of fibromyalgia patients, and studies have shown that a lower sleep quality is a risk factor for fibromyalgia. Indeed, poor sleep is strongly associated with symptom severity – the less patients sleep, the worse their symptoms.

However, clinical studies with drugs have shown that improving sleep quality can reduce pain in fibromyalgia patients.

To understand the features of sleep disturbances and their effect in fibromyalgia patients, researchers reviewed 25 case-control studies with a total of 2,086 participants, and in which sleep was assessed using polysomnography (19 studies) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (seven studies).

Studies evaluating sleep with polysomnography reported significant differences between fibromyalgia patients and healthy individuals concerning wake time after sleep onset, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency, among other parameters.

Studies assessing sleep with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index reported significant differences in global scores, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency between the two groups of participants.

Together, the findings explain the common complaint among fibromyalgia patients that they wake up “unrefreshed.” According to this review, this may be because fibromyalgia patients have trouble falling asleep, have lower sleep quality and sleep efficiency, longer wake time after falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and light sleep.

“Clinical trials have shown that improving sleep quality can reduce pain in individuals with fibromyalgia,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, primary care providers should be informed by the findings of the present study and proactively assess the risk of sleep disturbance in patients complaining of chronic widespread pain or consider the diagnosis of fibromyalgia in these patients. Clinicians should also actively treat sleep disturbances when poor sleep is identified in individuals with fibromyalgia.”


  1. wendy honor says:

    very true I have a terrible time trying to get to sleep even with medication that would probably knock a ordinary person out and I get both fybrmyalgia and it effects my lower back and arms and hands the most

  2. Kirstie White says:

    Unfortunately I have a slightly different way that it effects my sleep. I could literally sleep for England and if no alarm could continue.. I cannot remember now when I have ever woken up feeling refreshed though albeit 6 hours sleep or 12 hours. I have started a new job recently that is 24/7 shift work and weirdly enough my sleep seems to be a tiny bit more manageable. That really doesn’t make sense but maybe with me the normal 9-5pm working just wasn’t doing MY fibro any good. We shall see…

  3. Debbie S. says:

    Falling asleep is difficult because it’s hard to get comfortable and to stay comfortable. When you do finally fall asleep, turning over ruins it and you start over. Laying in one position isn’t better. Most night sitting up to sleep is the best because that relieves all the pressure points but it’s not comfortable. Staying asleep for any length of time is impossible. I’m exhausted All the time. Sleeping aids have their own negative side effects that just add to the problem. I have bursts of energy during the day, and then they wear me out but it’s nice to feel energetic for a little while.

  4. Susan W says:

    I have tried most of the traditional and herbal sleep medications that are out there. Most of them work for a few months and then stop working. Luckily I have a great pain specialist who wants to work as a team to continue to help me with my sleep problems. It’s important to take charge of your health and advocate for yourself. Also, find a doctor that you can trust, who listens to you and treats you with respect. Doing that makes it easier to develop a plan and goals for your treatment, as well as the ability to change things when problems occur, as they inevitably will.

  5. Loraine says:

    I have had terrible sleep problems for many years. I was just diagnosed 5 weeks ago with fibromyalgia. I have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. I often wake up at 3 or 4 AM and am unable to get back to sleep resulting in only 4 1/2 or 5 hours of sleep.

  6. Denise Bault says:

    As usual, this article doesn’t state what “clinicians should actively do” do help those of us with sleep disturbances. We already know we don’t sleep worth a hoot! What we want to know is: WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP????????????
    I haven’t had one in 13+ years. After 2 sleep studies, 2 CPAP machines, surgery on my nose and throat…plus the usual sleep medications (that you generally can’t take with your pain meds), multiple therapies, etc. I honestly would kill for just one night of decent sleep! Fibromyalgia robs us of everything…including sleep!

  7. MM says:

    What if you’ve had nearly every sleep medicine in the market with limited results? It’s hard to treat sleep disturbance when nothing helps.MM

  8. BONNIE SPOON says:

    I cannot begin to tell you that finding this website has been a blessing. I was diagnosed with FMS in 2003, but think I had it since the early 90’s. Reading these articles, I sitting here going “Yes, yes, yes”…I totally understand.

    Being deprived of a good night sleep is one of the toughest things to deal with. If I didn’t take my medicine to go to sleep, I would not fall asleep. My doctor now has me taking Melatonin and my sleeping medicine. I do not take it every night. It is not a cure-all whatsoever, but the Melatonin does make me sleepy, which is a good thing, because the sleeping pill acts as the closer on the case.

    Sleep deprivation is a lousy thing. If I have to get up to go somewhere early the next day, my body/mind goes into panic mode the night before, because I know in the morning there is going to be a battle between myself, my body and mind. I wind-up not sleeping well because I am worried how hard it will be to get up early in the morning. The sleeping pill allows me to sleep for about four solid hours, that’s it.

    I often say, I can deal with the pain in some respects but the fatigue is beyond, way beyond not easy to deal with.

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