New research indicates there may be a link between lack of restorative sleep and the onset of widespread body pain.
Widespread pain is a key feature of fibromyalgia, a condition where the sufferer typically experiences fatigue accompanied by long-term pain in several areas of the body, plus tenderness in the muscles, joints, tendons and other soft tissues.
The study, conducted at the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre in the UK, studied data from 4,300 adults over the age of 50. The subjects were free of widespread pain at the start of the study. At the start of the study, the participants filled in questionnaires about pain, mental and physical health, lifestyle and health behaviors, medical conditions and sociodemographic status.
They were followed for 3 years and re-assessed for development of widespread pain (using American College of Rheumatology Criteria). The researchers then analyzed the data using statistical tools to find which factors were most strongly linked with onset of widespread pain.
The results showed that at the 3-year follow-up, almost one in five of the participants reported new widespread pain. This included 25% of participants who had reported some pain and 8% who had reported no pain at the start of the study.
The researchers found several potential links to the risk of developing widespread pain, but the strongest link was with the lack of a good night’s sleep.
Findings of the study were published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.