Fibromyalgia Sufferers Have Difficulty Maintaining Continuous Sleep, Study Says

Fibromyalgia Sufferers Have Difficulty Maintaining Continuous Sleep, Study Says

A new study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain concludes that people with fibromyalgia have difficulty maintaining continuous sleep as compared to patients with primary insomnia and patients who do not report disturbed sleep.

“This post hoc analysis demonstrates that the nature of sleep disturbance among patients with fibromyalgia reporting difficulty with sleep can be distinguished from patients with primary insomnia and from controls,” the study’s authors wrote.

“We demonstrate that despite comparable wake time during the night (WASO), fibromyalgia patients can be differentiated from patients with primary insomnia and from controls without sleep difficulties, on the basis of frequency and duration of wake or sleep bout episodes.”

The researchers studied 132 people with fibromyalgia (FM) who have difficulty sleeping, 109 people with primary insomnia (PI), and 52 people without sleep disturbance. FM and PI patients were preselected to meet the sleep disturbance criteria.

People with fibromyalgia and primary insomnia had decreased total sleep time and slow-wave sleep (SWS), and increased latency to persistent sleep (LPS) and wake time after sleep onset (WASO) versus controls (P<0.05 for each). People with fibromyalgia had shorter, but more frequent wake bouts versus people with primary insomnia.  Both groups had shorter sleep bout duration versus controls

“We feel these characteristics, in addition to broadening our understanding of the sleep disturbances in these populations, may have relevance in terms of the pathophysiology of the sleep disturbance as well as differential treatment practices for physicians evaluating and managing disrupted sleep in patients with fibromyalgia or those with primary insomnia,” the authors wrote.

The authors concluded, “That sleep in FM is characterized by an inability to maintain continuous sleep but a greater sleep drive compared with PI.”

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My wife suffering from it I’m trying to gather lots of information a bout the mentioned condition, to help.

Jean Price

Mary, I think it’s a both things are true situation with sleep and pain. I know it is for me. When I’m hurting more, I sleep less soundly. And when I sleep less soundly, I hurt more! Oddly enough, I was diagnosed several years ago and the medical supply company that followed my statistics was concerned I was on the wrong type of machine. My interruptions would go as high as 30 an hour, and then maybe drop to around 20, but rarely got lower than 13 or 15. All very uncontrolled, considering I was having more the longer I slept. I talked to my PA about this and they didn’t want to recheck me so I went on like this for years. I finally found a clinic closer to home and they tested me again and immediately put me on a BIPAP machine, rather than a CPAP. That has made a major difference. Now my stats are around 8 to 10 an hour or less most days. Evidently, most of my apnea isn’t obstructive, but rather a central or clear airway type that means your brain doesn’t trigger the response to breathe. I feel a little more rested, and therefore able to cope better with my pain, plus my blood sugar and blood pressure are better. Sleep apnea can have major impacts on many systems and you don’t always snore or have labored phases of breathing. You may just not breathe! I think anyone with pain may have a potential to sleep less soundly due to apnea of either type. I do think it can have some bearing on most types of pain, but doubt it is the single causative factor.


I have fibromyalgia that rears its ugly head when I’m sleep-deprived. I had a fibro diagnosis for years and then when all the sleep meds were failing me, they sent me for a sleep study. I have sleep apnea!

I thought… how could I have sleep apnea? I thought I was sleeping fine but just waking up unrefreshed. They told me I woke so many times per hour but I had NO memory of it at all.

Sitting in the waiting room for my sleep study, I talked with another patient who said that he knew it was time to get a new CPAP machine because his was old and he was starting to have random aches and pains again.


So… I get my CPAP and after a few months (maybe three), the roaming pain that I had is greatly reduced. I’m in shock and I talk to my doctor about it. He said that even though he can’t “officially” say this… that he feels that sleep deprivation (from obstructive sleep apnea) could have caused my fibro symptoms.

I still have pain. It’s localized to where I have osteoarthritis, which, unfortunately, is my feet, ankle, knees, hips, shoulders… and I have cervical spondylosis and SI joint dysfunction. This stuff shows up on X-rays. My mom has widespread osteoarthritis, too. This pain is much more predictable than fibro pain. It doesn’t roam around my body. It’s localized at joints.

If you have a fibro diagnosis, you might want to look into a sleep study. Check with your insurance to find out your coverage, too… find out if you have to meet deductibles. It’s not cheap, but it can be life-changing. Yes, I sleep with a CPAP machine, hose and mask… but it was life-changing in a very good way.


I think it is becomes a cycle. Pain causes awakenings but there are actual sleep disturbances being experienced on a neurological level and less sleep causes more pain.

And don’t forget that they now believe the HSV-1 virus is suspected as the causation of neurological/central nervous system issues. The FDA has fast tracked a Phase III study for a drug for Fibromyalgia that suppresses HSV-1.

Mary Saitta

Hasn’t anyone considered that the constant, unrelenting pain of fibromyalgia causes the inability to get an uninterrupted night of sleep? Either find a way to lessen the pain or find something to help us get a decent night’s sleep on a regular basis.