If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you already know that chronic pain can make sleep a challenge—and it goes both ways! If you sleep poorly, you’ll feel worse the next day, and the cycle repeats. When you’re dealing with a fibromyalgia flare up, prioritizing rest can get even harder.
These tips will help you make sure you’re getting the sleep you need.
What Is a Fibromyalgia Flare Up?
- 1 What Is a Fibromyalgia Flare Up?
- 2 How to Sleep Better During a Fibromyalgia Flare Up
- 2.1 Create (and Stick To) A Good Sleep Routine
- 2.2 But Remember to Change Your Routine If Needed
- 2.3 Take Time to Relax Each Night
- 2.4 Add Exercise to Your Day In a Strategic Way
- 2.5 Try Cooling Down the Room Where You Sleep
Although some people with fibromyalgia experience regular symptoms, fluctuating symptoms are more common. This means that your baseline symptoms can take a turn and worsen.
A sudden increase in the intensity or number of symptoms is called a fibromyalgia flare up.
You’re more likely to experience a fibromyalgia flare up if you’re feeling stressed or under pressure. But they can also occur without any kind of warning.
Certain things have been shown to be possible triggers for flare ups, including sudden changes in:
- Psychological or physical stress levels
- Sleep pattern
- Weather or temperature
Once it’s triggered, a fibromyalgia flare up may last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.
Symptoms of a Fibromyalgia Flare Up
Fibromyalgia’s main symptom is the presence of widespread pain throughout the body. It’s associated with pain, tenderness, and stiffness in the muscles, joints, and tendons.
Your specific symptoms may be different from someone else’s.
However, your symptoms can also change day-to-day.
Symptoms of a fibromyalgia flare up often include the following:
- Pain spread throughout your body, often in your back or neck
- Intense sensitivity to things like pain, bright light, and particular foods
- Getting very stiff after spending time in any one position
- Spasms in your muscles
- Poor quality sleep that leaves you feeling restless
- Being extremely tired most of the time
- Fatigue throughout the day
- “Fibro Fog,” which is difficulty with memory, learning, attention, and concentration
- Issues while speaking, like slow or confused speech
- Consistent headaches and migraines
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
During a fibromyalgia flare up, you may experience additional symptoms. These include clumsiness, difficulty regulating temperature, dizzy spells, pain, restless legs syndrome, or tingling in your hands or feet.
Trying to prevent pain, especially with a lack of sleep, can cause problems in lots of areas of your life. Plus, the stress that accompanies coping with a chronic illness can make everything feel worse.
How to Sleep Better During a Fibromyalgia Flare Up
Honestly, fibromyalgia feels crippling to so many people. People who suffer from fibromyalgia flare ups struggle with daily pain and a lack of sleep. This can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety.
Finding strategies that help you sleep will help you manage and prevent flare ups! Here are some of our best sleep tips for a fibromyalgia flare up.
Create (and Stick To) A Good Sleep Routine
Consistency is essential for improving your sleep quality!
But don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll need to try different activities to figure out what works best for you. Maybe it’s journaling before bed, maybe it’s an evening bath. Maybe both!
If you don’t try things, you’ll never know what works for you. Once you’ve figured it out, stick with it!
It’s easy to stay enthusiastic about a new habit for a couple of weeks. After the initial enthusiasm wears off, it’s common to let those new habits fall away.
If you realize you’ve slipped out of your sleep routine, it’s not the end of the world. Just pick the habits back up and start again.
But Remember to Change Your Routine If Needed
Consistency is important, but sticking to a broken routine can be just as harmful as having no routine. If you’ve ever tried to force yourself to sleep, you probably already know it just makes things worse.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there feeling frustrated. Spend some time doing a relaxing activity. This could be reading a book or knitting a scarf or anything that soothes you.
Ideally, the activity will help you wind down into restfulness. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. You’ve gotten something done.
Most importantly, you haven’t subconsciously connected your room to feelings of insomnia.
Take Time to Relax Each Night
In order to prevent a fibromyalgia flare up, you want to manage your stress. When you manage your stress, you’ll sleep better—which ultimately helps alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, too!
As a part of your evening routine, engage in activities that relax and soothe you. Here are some ideas.
Write A Worry Journal
If you find your mind racing at night, full of concerns or problems, a worry journal could be your solution.
Write out your stressors and worries. This gets them out of your head and onto the paper so you can process them.
Write A Gratitude Journal
On the opposite side of tracking your worries is focusing on gratitude.
It can be incredibly difficult to manage fibromyalgia flare ups. Focusing on and expressing your gratitude for the good things in your life is emotionally (and physically!) soothing.
There is something in your life to be grateful for every day. Maybe it’s some snuggle time with your pet or a beautiful sunny day.
Direct your focus to these small joys in order to calm yourself.
Play Some Relaxing Tunes
Music can alter your state of mind and even affect your body.
Are there certain songs that make you feel calm or peaceful? Add them to your nighttime playlist before bed.
If music is too much when you’re experiencing fibromyalgia flare ups, try listening to white noise instead.
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have been shown to have real relaxing effects on the body and mind. Diffuse them in your room, dab a little on your temples, or rub them on your feet. You can even spritz a small amount on your pillowcase before you go to bed.
This set is a great place to start!
These oils have been shown to help improve sleep:
- Clary sage
- Peppermint (some people find peppermint invigorating instead of soothing. See if it works for you)
Prep For Tomorrow
If your to-do list is keeping you awake, try and write it out in the afternoon instead of at night.
You can also plan for the next day in other ways. Try picking your outfit ahead of time or meal prep for tomorrow.
Anything that makes you feel like the next day will go more smoothly can help!
Meditate Or Pray
Whether you believe in prayer or prefer meditation, either activity can help you wind down for bed.
Both can cause feelings of calmness, gratitude, and peace. That’s exactly how you want to feel before bed!
Stick With Your Bedtime
Life sometimes gets in the way sometimes of keeping a consistent sleep schedule.
But as much as possible, try to go to bed at the same time every night. Maintaining a consistent bedtime is a great strategy that gives you agency over your body’s internal clock.
Add Exercise to Your Day In a Strategic Way
If you have fibromyalgia, you might have a complicated relationship with exercise.
Processing your pain differently doesn’t mean that you should avoid exercise entirely. Regular exercise improves your overall sense of health and wellbeing!
A strong body is also more capable of healing. Another bonus? Exercise causes your body to produce endorphins, which can reduce the effects of “fibro fog” and improve your mood.
When you’re using exercise to improve your sleep (rather than harming it), these tips can help:
- Make sure to exercise in the morning or early afternoon so you can wind down properly at night
- Select low-impact aerobic exercises that are gentle on your joints
- Go for walks to help distract you from chronic pain
- Yoga or light stretching is always a good way to unwind before bed
- Be patient and gentle—respect your limits
Try Cooling Down the Room Where You Sleep
When you fall asleep, your body temperature naturally lowers. This means that a cool room is actually more conducive to falling asleep!
See how your body responds after a week of lowering your room’s temperature to 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Play around with the temperature to find your perfect bedroom temp, and then stick with it.
There’s actually another benefit to this tip! You may find that you need more blankets in a cooler room. Having a little extra blanket weight is so soothing, especially for chronic pain.
Dealing with a fibromyalgia flare up doesn’t have to mean losing sleep!
There is a strong connection between chronic pain and insomnia. But there are steps you can take to safeguard your sleep.