TO DREAM OR NOT TO DREAM?
What does dreaming have to do with Fibromyalgia, you may wonder – well, quite a lot actually. You’re probably pretty aware of the sleep disorder that goes with the condition, certainly by experience if not through reading about it. But there is more to it than just not being able to get enough sleep. A vast majority of sufferers not only dream far more than usual, but also have extremely vivid dreams. The reason for this has been uncovered through research in the USA.
US research has shown that Fibromyalgics actually get stuck in Level III sleep, and this is of course the REM stage, where dreaming takes place. This is the reason too for the vividness of the dreams, causing you to come out of it thinking that whatever the dream was about actually happened, as quite often everything within the dream will be exactly as it is in real life.
We all know that sleep is important, so it’s not hard to understand why when you have a problem with it from a biochemical angle, it’s not going to be easy to sort out. That’s the story with Fibromyalgia from start to finish anyway – no known cause, no known cure and they don’t mean just for the pain, but for this as well.
Various studies have been undertaken to analyse and research this aspect of the overall condition, as the Doctors feel that it plays a very important role in our overall wellbeing. It’s certainly noticeable that if you don’t get a reasonable nights sleep in any capacity, you will be less able to tolerate even your ‘normal’ baseline pain the following day. Not only that, but what little cognitive (thinking) function you normally have is lessened also. This in turn drags you down further still, so that you start into the dreaded vicious circle of no sleep - worse pain - no sleep pattern.
- Sleep Apnoea
It’s important though to recognise that there are other sleep disorders that many of us may have which are in fact treatable, such as sleep apnoea – the classic one that snorers tend to suffer from. The actual sufferer isn’t aware of it, but their partner is, as they will hear the other one snoring heavily for a few minutes, then suddenly silence. If they watch closely, they will see that the person isn’t breathing, although in many cases the chest wall will heave as the body fights to obtain air, causing the eventual explosive rasping snore we all love to hate. This is a potentially more serious condition, which some can have alongside the Fibromyalgia sleep disorder, and is more common in men, those who are overweight, heavy smokers or drinkers or those with any form of nasal/sinus difficulties. You should definitely talk to your GP if your partner thinks this is happening to you.
- Restless Legs Syndrome
Those of you with restless legs syndrome, will know how much it affects your sleep pattern, but it too is a separate condition in its own right. Movements of the limbs happens spontaneously during sleep, and can be severe enough to cause the sufferer to wake up. Of course, when you do, that’s not the end of the problem, because you’re then faced with the feeling of “ants crawling about under your skin”, which causes so much irritation you end up having to get out of bed and wake yourself up even more trying to settle this sensation down, usually to no avail. US Specialist Dr. Bennett had recommended a drug called 'Sinemet' for this problem, but apparently few GP’s are comfortable to prescribe it here. Even if you don’t actually wake up with this syndrome, the effect of constant muscle contractions of this nature propels you from any deeper level of sleep back into Levels 1 to III again anyhow.
- Changes in Seasons
Anything that wakens you to the point of having to put on a light or get out of bed and move about will usually prevent you from getting back to any decent level of sleep. Putting on a light resets your body clock which operates on light levels, telling it that it’s now day and time to get up. Sometimes if you have enough drugs in you, you may manage to fall asleep again, but you’ve still reset your clock which is going to work on a different timescale accordingly. For example, if you’ve had to get up at 3 am and put on a light, your brain will take that as the start of morning, so it will count probably around 8 – 12 hours from then, and certainly in winter with failing light levels sometimes starting at 3 pm, your brain will start releasing the chemical that tells you it’s time to sleep much earlier in the day than it should. It may be worth trying to change bad habits if possible for a few days to see if it might help.
Insomnia is not a condition but rather a symptom and it's likely that it could be part of your FMS. There are various types of insomnia.Transient insomnia - lasting for a few nights; Short-term insomnia - two or four weeks of poor sleep; or Chronic insomnia - poor sleep that happens most nights and last a month or longer. Short term or chronic insomnia is something that needs to be dealt with as you may even find the current medication you are taking is a contributing factor. You should speak with your doctor about ways to overcome persistent insomnia.
Just remember, that even if you feel that you haven’t had any sleep at all, you will probably have had a bit, and your brain will ensure that you get enough one way or another for your body to function even if its only means is to knock you off your feet in the middle of the day