20 Tips for Controlling Fibromyalgia at Night

Sometimes, fibromyalgia pain and sleep can be a catch-22.  It's difficult to sleep because of pain, depression and anxiety and lack of sleep makes symptoms worse.  What's the solution?  We have twenty tips for getting the sleep you need when you have fibromyalgia.

Insomnia, frequent waking and other sleep problems are common with fibromyalgia.  If it's not muscle aches making it impossible to get comfortable, it's worry, which can compound anxiety and depression. You feel helpless, hopeless and wake up exhausted. Everyone has tiny muscle tears, physical traumas, and exposure to bacteria and viruses during a normal day that heal during sleep. Most people with fibromyalgia, however, report trouble achieving the deep restorative kind of sleep that lets the body repair the damage. If you don't sleep well, these physical offenses impact our wellbeing the next day and may even compound and create more injury.  The key to better health is in controlling fibromyalgia at night.

Many people nod off to sleep easily with a few simple, natural tweaks:

1. Eliminate caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening.

2. Avoid stimulating television, reading, computer activity, movies or anything else that revs up the brain.

3. Keep your room cool and dark.

4. Use your bed only for sleep and sex, not as a place to read or watch TV.

5. Take a warm bath before bed.

6. Meditate to calm your mind and body.

7. Keep a journal to write down worries before bed.

8. Buy a better mattress or mattress topper to support your body and minimize pressure points.

9. Buy a sound machine that plays white noise, ocean, rain or other soothing, noise canceling sounds.

10. Establish a routine that signals your brain that it's bedtime (like brush your teeth, read a relaxing passage in a book, etc).  Do the same thing and go to bed at the same time every night.

If simple changes aren't helping, you may need more professional help. Try thesis next steps:

1. Engage in a sleep study and find out if you have any conditions (like sleep apnea or snoring) that are interrupting your sleep.

2. Ask your doctor about over-the counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, Benedryl or melatonin.

3. Ask about antidepressants. Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants are proven effective for treating sleep disturbances.

4. Talk about how to take pain medications so they'll be most effective at night.

5. Discuss muscle relaxants to treat muscle spasms.

6. Ask if prescription sleep aids, like Ambien are appropriate for you.

7. Talk about how to safely take your prescriptions so you don't overdose on medications that could suppress your respiratory system.

8. Get a good therapist to help you process the stresses that are unique to living with chronic pain.

9. Join a support group for people with fibromyalgia.

10. Find a different doctor if yours isn't supportive and helping you. 

Controlling fibromyalgia at night is key to living with fibromyalgia during the day. Don't let it keep you awake another night. 


University of Maryland Medical Center



National Fibromyalgia Association

Get a Better Night's Sleep
Thursday, June 21, 2007
By: Elisabeth Deffner