By Dr. Lisa Shives (The Sleep M.D.)
I’ve noticed quite a bit of discussion lately about fibromyalgia on the SleepBetter Facebook Page. All of the discussion, unfortunately, is about how difficult it is to sleep with this and other chronic pain conditions.
Fibromyalgia is one of a number of disorders that cause the kind of pain that will keep an individual from getting a good night’s rest. This inability to sleep causes a seemingly never-ending cycle where the poor sleep makes it more difficult to control or tolerate the pain, which then leads to more sleepless nights.
It is critical for those with chronic pain to undergo a thorough sleep evaluation in order to discover if they have an underlying primary sleep disorder. The diagnosis and treatment of these disorders can make a huge impact on their lives. In fact, many of my own patients have found that the diagnosis and treatment of seemingly unrelated disorders have led to them sleeping more soundly, which has reduced their chronic pain significantly.
Persistent muscle pain and fatigue are thought to result from a disturbance in the functions of the central nervous system. Sleep is also function of the central nervous system. It makes sense that the dysfunction might start with sleep and then affect pain receptors and pain perception. And it is often the case that the healing can’t really begin until the patient can get the right amount of good quality sleep.
Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.