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Fibromyalgia & Sleep

Reviewed By: Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA

Fibromyalgia pain can be widespread and flare up throughout the day. Even at night, fibromyalgia symptoms won't quit, robbing you of precious sleep.

Fibromyalgia is known for its chronic widespread pain and the localized pain it causes in certain muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. Sleep problems and fatigue are also common.

Sleep disorders associated with fibromyalgia include:

  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS). Causes nighttime muscle spasms in the legs. Patients describe it as unpleasant creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling or painful sensations.

  • Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). Causes spasms similar to those of restless legs syndrome, but occurs only during nighttime sleep and often are more violent.

  • Sleep apnea. Causes a patient's breathing to temporarily slow or stop while asleep. Pauses in breath occur up to 30 times an hour, and each may last for 10 to 20 seconds. Left untreated, sleep apnea can be life-threatening.

  • Bruxism. Persistent grinding of the teeth. Bruxism may be related to stress or to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, a condition that is more common in fibromyalgia patients than the general public.

Source or symptom?

Why does fibromyalgia wreak havoc with sleep patterns? For years, scientists were unsure. Only recently did they suspect that sleep disturbances may actually cause some cases of fibromyalgia.

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