The Mighty Logo

The Strategies I Use to Help Me Sleep With Fibromyalgia

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I wanted to share a bit of information concerning sleeping arrangements when you have fibromyalgia. These are my personal observations over years of trial and error. Lots and lots of errors…

Foam Mattress: We swapped a top-of-the-line premium spring mattress for a new “memory foam” mattress. Some of these mattresses have separate zippered compartments for the foam layers — which means you can refresh or replace the top foam sections without buying a new bed. I recommend purchasing a mattress cover, which is essential to keep the foam breathing, clean and dry. The foam mattress seems to be warmer by about one blanket’s worth, so take that into account, although the new gel foam is supposed to alleviate this. Our foam mattress has greatly relieved the pain caused by “pressure points” where your body touches the mattress.

Bed Rail: I use the Stander Bed Rail Advantage Traveler. Very helpful for getting into and out of bed when my muscles are protesting, and helps to change positions in bed, or if I wake up a bit unbalanced in the mornings. Mine is U-shaped and has pockets for odds-n-ends.

Sheets: Depends on your perception of softness. Bamboo fabric sheets seem to work for us. We tried satin, but didn’t like the slipperiness. Flannel is soft, but tends to grab the fabric of my PJs, making moving around in bed difficult.

Body Pillows: I have a Comfort U Total Body Support Pillow, a U-shaped body pillow. For one thing, it’s one of the few that is large and long enough for a man. Many body pillows are designed for women, and are too short or too thin. The body pillow allows me to keep my limbs separated, and at proper heights to reduce pain. The U-shape means I can roll over without having to move my pillow. I ended up stuffing some extra pillow filling into mine so it was firmer and tall enough for my shoulders.  Make sure you get extra pillow cases…

My new favorite is Embrace Memory Foam Body Pillow from Sleep Innovations, a straight body pillow that is very deep. Great if you have wide shoulders. It also is very heavy, and has a central core of memory foam. I actually use two of these, setting them in a T arrangement. Wonderfully soft. They do hold the heat, so summer use may not be so pleasant.

Heated mattress pad: The ability to warm up the mattress before you climb in, or to have soft heat relaxing your muscles is wonderful. In the morning, I can get my muscles warmed up before leaving bed. We use a three-zone pad, so you can warm just your feet, your hips, or your upper body, or any combination. I use the Sunbeam Therapeutic heated mattress pad.

The premium choice seems to be a mattress pad called a Chilipad. It uses a refrigerator-type device to pump warm or cool water through tiny tubes in the mattress pad.

Sleepwear: If you need the softest material possible, try the “bamboo viscose” type of clothing. Also, I’ve found that bamboo fabrics that include a percentage of cotton tend to be less clingy. In my opinion, the ultimate soft PJs for painful, itchy skin can be found at this store: Bamboo Buddy in Australia. They do ship worldwide.

For hot, sweaty nights, there are some new “instadry” fabrics for men. InstaDry Tee and Pants Pajama Set are my favorite summer PJ’s. I own four pairs, and have used them for years. A bit breezy for cold weather use, however.

Sound Machine: It’s important to create a proper sleeping environment. I’ve found that a sound machine can provide a consistent noise source to block out distractions (and neighbors). After using one for a while, you may find the noise triggers a drowsy feeling. No one sound works for everyone.

The more modern rendition of a sound machine is any of the apps available for your smartphone. However, a dedicated sound machine is often more convenient than using your phone every night. Sound quality will certainly be better.

Light and sound machines: For those who want to relax before bed and like to experiment with cutting edge ideas, you might want to look into these L&S Machines. They are basically for “training your brain” to produce the proper brain-waves for various activities, especially relaxing and sleep. I’ve had some real success with these devices, but I find it difficult to set aside the time on a regular basis.

Tablet Use: For using your tablet in bed, holding your arms out isn’t always the best with fibro. For me, a tablet stand makes things much more comfortable. Also wonderful if I am stuck in bed for any reason…

The links to websites are included as examples of the types of products available. Please look around, check out the prices and various types of products before making up your mind.

My goal is to minimize my discomfort and frustration in my environment. I hope you will find some of these solutions useful or at least thought-provoking. Comments or opinions on products you’ve found are appreciated.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 28, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home