It's not unusual for FM patients to have one or more of three common sleep disorders:
- Alpha EEG Anomaly - the interruption of deep sleep by sudden bursts of awake-like brain activity. These periods of intense activity are measured as alpha waves on an EEG monitor. Alpha EEG Anomaly is prevalent in fibromyalgia patients, preventing them from getting the deep sleep that is essential to restore the body.
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) - a disorder causing unpleasant crawling, prickling, or tingling sensations in the legs and feet resulting in an urge to move them for relief. Many RLS patients also have periodic limb movement disorder or PLMD, which causes repetitive jerking movements of the limbs, particularly the legs. These movements occur every 20 to 40 seconds and cause repeated awakening and severely fragmented sleep.
- Sleep Apnea - interrupted breathing during sleep usually caused by a mechanical problem in the windpipe. Sleep is disturbed with sleep apnea because when the windpipe closes, the person has to wake up enough to contract the muscles involved and begin breathing again.
The best way to determine whether you have any of these sleep disorders is to have a sleep study done.
For tips on ways to improve your sleep, read: The Fibromyalgia Sleep Dilemma – Part II: Finding Solutions
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. May 21, 2007.