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.”