Patients coping with the complex (pain disorder) fibromyalgia often have difficulty sleeping, and a new study published in The Journal of Pain reports that despite the negative quality of life implications, poor sleep is not a significant predictor of fibromyalgia pain intensity and duration.
The complexity of fibromyalgia as a pain disorder is rooted in the variable, patient-to-patient, influence of physical, psychological, social factors that contribute to clinical pain, and their influence often is difficult to understand. Previous research has shown that variables such as negative mood and the number of localized pain areas are significant predictors of clinical pain in fibromyalgia patients.
Many fibromyalgia patients complain about poor sleep, and studies have shown that interrupted sleep experienced by individuals with other pain conditions is predictive of next day clinical pain. Also, sleep duration has been shown to predict clinical pain in healthy adults. For this study, a research team from the University of Florida hypothesized that decreased total sleep time would predict higher clinical pain in a sample of patients with fibromyalgia.
Seventy-four adults with fibromyalgia were recruited for a University of Florida study and they were observed for 14 days. Subjects rated their clinical pain every evening and completed sleep diaries describing the previous night’s sleep.
Results of the analysis showed that four sleep measures evaluated in the study failed to significantly predict clinical pain. The authors noted that the effects of impaired sleep, such as fatigue and inactivity, may play more significant roles in clinical pain than measures of sleep duration or insomnia.