Getting a good night’s sleep is a regular aspect of any doctor’s health advice. Right up there behind healthy eating and exercising. A new study has found an alarming link between sleep problems and an increased risk for joint pain. The kind caused by fibromyalgia.
It found that the risk of fibromyalgia increased with the severity of sleep problems. The study, performed on women, showed a stronger link in middle-aged and older women. Results were published in “Arthritis & Rheumatism.”
(Sleep problems don’t just affect joint pain. Read the article, How You Sleep Could Affect Your Blood Pressure)
Experts estimate that fibromyalgia — a chronic musculoskeletal pain syndrome — affects more than five million Americans. Studies have shown it typically strikes in middle age, and 90% of patients are women. While previous research has found that insomnia, nighttime waking, and fatigue are symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, it was unknown if sleep issues were actually helping cause fibromyalgia.
Researchers from Norway led the investigation, by scrutinizing a large health study. They selected 12,350 women who were free of musculoskeletal pain and movement disorders for the current study.
The findings were clear: a strong association exists between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia risk in adult women. Women who often reported sleep problems had a greater risk of fibromyalgia than those who never experienced sleep problems.
At follow-up, 327 women had developed fibromyalgia. This is an incidence proportion of 2.6% during 10 years. The adjusted relative risk for women who reported having sleep problems “often” or “always” was 5.41 among women over 45 years of age. The researchers believe that more studies are needed to investigate whether early detection and treatment of sleep disturbance reduces the risk of fibromyalgia in women.
Insomnia is a frustrating part of life for a huge number of people. But it can be helped. Alternative medicine offers such relief as valerian root, melatonin, relaxation therapies, aromatherapy, and meditation. Tackling sleep disorders takes considerable effort, but it can be done. Speak to your physician and obtain a referral to a sleep clinic to get started and learn what the issues are.