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14 Ways Sleep Disturbances Affect People With Fibromyalgia

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Many people tend to primarily associate fibromyalgia with pain – but as those with fibro know, the condition can cause so many more symptoms and side effects than “just” pain.

Among the other characteristic symptoms of fibro are sleep disturbances. Folks with fibro may have difficulty falling or staying asleep, and the sleep they do get may not be very restful. As a result, they’re likely to feel more sleepy and fatigued the following day. But the issues don’t end there.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “the combination of pain and sleep disturbance is a double-edged sword: the pain makes sleep more difficult and sleep deprivation exacerbates pain.” The various symptoms fibro warriors experience may feed into one another, creating a vicious cycle. Sleep issues not only cause insomnia at night and sleepiness during the day, but an array of other symptoms as well.

We wanted to better understand the full impact sleep disturbances can have, so we asked our Mighty community to share how they’ve been affected by this symptoms of fibromyalgia. Let us know if any of the following experiences sound familiar in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1.I’m always tired. I stay up late and sleep most of the day. Pain still wakes me up when I do sleep. I’m cranky and it makes my anxiety worse. I miss out on doing things because my sleep schedule is so backwards. I can’t remember a night/day that I’ve sleep with no interruptions or pain.” – Meena N.

2.I turn into a zombie when I’ve not had enough sleep, brain fog becomes worse and I slur my words.” – Jill C.

3.One word – painsomnia! It comes in waves (as most of my symptoms) where I’ll have weeks of decent sleep and then weeks of staring at the ceiling in pain. It’s amazing how a soft mattress can be so painful.” – Bay H.

4.I’m usually tired all day and can’t sleep at night. Even if I’m fortunate enough to sleep at night, I’m still tired during the day. If I sit long enough, I’ll definitely fall asleep. Even if I do get sleepy at night, a number of things can keep me awake longer. Anxiety, RLS [restless leg syndrome], an IBS attack, a migraine, or an intense fibro pain attack can all keep me from resting. And, not much helps.” – Rachel P.

5.I always wake up with the spins when I don’t sleep well. When I think it’s over and get up it starts up again, along with nausea and migraine. Poor concentration and memory on top of that make me extremely irritable. These things will last all day and get so bad I almost forget about the pain.” – Linda C.

6.Nausea. It’s the worst. I also get very irritated, more hungry and my body aches way more.” – Guðbjörg G.

7. “[I] become confused, slur words, become clumsy and pain goes to a 10. Sleep is very important.” – Kendra S.

Want to connect with other fibro warriors in a judgment-free space? Download our free app to ask questions and receive support.

8.When my sleep is disturbed, as it has been lately due to changing medications, I become extremely emotional and my brain fog is almost debilitating. I cannot find my words and my thoughts become extremely jumbled, it’s hard to focus. I’m also very grouchy and snappy. My family gets the worst of me when I’m not resting well, and that adds to the torment.” – Tiffany M.

9.I find it hard to sleep at night, not usually sleeping until 3-4 a.m,. but when I don’t sleep enough it makes my pain and fatigue worse. It’s like a continuous vicious circle. I spend my day tired and playing sleep catch-up.” – Joanne R.

10.I have painsomnia all night long so it’s very difficult to find a comfortable position to fall asleep and stay asleep. Then I wake up in the morning in more pain feeling unrested and irritable all day, going about my day drowsy and confused.” – Allison M.

11.When I have a particularly rough night with little to no sleep, it costs me a day of work, as I can’t concentrate and don’t even trust myself to make the 30-minute drive to get to work. I don’t get paid sick days, so it also adds extra anxiety due to loss of income.” – Norma S.

12.It takes me [so] long to turn my brain off that I generally have to head to bed at about 6:30 p.m.! I’ll finally be ready for sleep at about 10 p.m. after making sure the room is exactly the right temperature, there is exactly the right amount of light, my pillows are in the right spot and the covers are arranged correctly. Then I’ll decide I need to pee and have to start all over again. Sleep usually hits just before midnight and I’ll be up to piddle at least once in the night. I’m usually awake for at least an hour before my alarm goes off, so about 6 a.m. I usually spend the day yawning my head off and and scoffing anything and everything to stay awake. By around 3:30 p.m. my brain usually just stops working and I end up photocopying or something to end my work day.” – Vikki J.

13. “I suffer with insomnia even though I’m always tired. This in turn makes me think slower, speak slower and even walk slower. It also makes me grumpy. I’ve had three members of family this week ask me what’s up and tell me I always look grumpy.” – Diane B.

14. The nightmare is how long it takes to get comfortable! Every night consists of at least an hour of fidgeting around before sleep even starts… I’ve had fibro for over two years now and still not figured out a good position.” – Catherine J. 


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Getty Image by klebercordeiro

Originally published: January 17, 2019
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