A Big Concern: Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea


Is it painful when you sleep? Is it painful just to sit on the couch? Do you avoid hugging people, fearful of the intense pain a simple hug can bring? We understand.

Fibromyalgia has been plaguing at least 10 million people in the United States alone. You’re here looking for answers to questions you’ve had for a long time. Why can’t I sleep? Why aren’t doctors working on a cure? Why does this hurt so bad? We’re here to tell you that you’re not alone. Even though you may feel like it, there are 10 million people here in the U.S. that know what it’s like, and on top that, there are those people that can empathize and want to help. Before we get into the blog, I just wanted you to know you always have a friend in Fibromyalgia Treatment Group!

Now, hear this: Fibromyalgia is painful, as you already know. It’s so painful in fact that it’s really starting to affect the time of day that we hate to be bothered in. That’s bedtime. That’s the time we really hate to be bothered. In fact, it’s so related that doctors are finding out that patients diagnosed with sleep apnea also have fibromyalgia. That’s not good. If you’re not familiar with sleep apnea, here’s Google’s very scary definition: “A potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.” If you’re still not familiar with what that means, Google a “CPAP machine”. It’s what is used for patients with sleep apnea because of the way sleep apnea occurs. The tongue relaxes and obstructs the airways, shutting down any respiratory action going on. Alveoli don’t get to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, and you’re not getting any air. That’s terrifying. Now, being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is bad enough. Sprinkle some sleep apnea on top of that? There’s got to be a better way.

I decided to make this blog about fibromyalgia in relation to sleep apnea and general sleep deprivation because of researching that sleep study. Without further ado, let’s look at the top 7 things you should know about fibromyalgia. I’ll keep this brief so we can look at what we can do to manage Fibromyalgia and hopefully prevent sleep apnea.


-A study was done on people without Fibro. Every night for two weeks, they were woken up by a noise while in deep sleep. Their level of being tired in the final days mimicked a fibro sufferers average day. The symptoms were indistinguishable.


-66% of fibromyalgia sufferers have some type of complaint that is sleep deprived related. The most common complaint is feeling like they didn’t get any sleep at all. If you have a hard time falling asleep, ask your doctor for a medication that may help you.


-Insomnia is rampant in fibromyalgia sufferers for the simple fact that everything hurts. The blankets, the sheets, and even the pillowcases.


-In 2010, sodium oxybate was denied (by the FDA) as a drug to help treat Fibromyalgia, even though it is used as a drug for narcolepsy. The issue was that the drug is very chemically similar to the “date rape” drug. Putting more of this out there didn’t outweigh the risks to the FDA.


-Restless leg syndrome affects 50% of fibro-sufferers, outweighing the general public that sit’s around 7%. Studies show that once someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia is treated for restless leg syndrome, they often times have much-improved sleep.


-Sleep apnea is actually more common in men diagnosed with fibromyalgia opposed to women diagnosed with fibromyalgia. A total of 61% the men have sleep apnea and 31% of women have sleep apnea, according to this study.


-Those diagnosed with fibromyalgia show less deep (REM) slee and increased duration and frequencies of non-deep, non-REM sleep durations.

Now that you know some new facts about Fibro and sleep-related symptoms, how do we prevent getting sleep apnea? Here are some quick tips:

-lose weight (tissues can push your tongue to compromise your airway)

–quit smoking

–avoid alcohol

-avoid excess caffeine (try to avoid caffeine-induced insomnia)

-try getting on a consistent sleep schedule

Note that any of these things should be done slowly, especially weening yourself off of smoking and drinking. In addition to doing these two things, it may help you lose weight if that is an issue for you. Be sure to ask your doctor before doing anything drastic, such as a different diet. Do your research and have a deep understanding of whatever you’re trying to do. As always my fibromyalgia friends: gentle hugs!


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