Sleep Disorder and Fibromyalgia

Conformity and spinal support

Sleep Disorder and Fibromyalgia

Your Mattress may be the Problem

By Dr. Rick Swartzburg, D.C.


The connection between poor sleep and fibromyalgia has been well-documented, but what people most often forget is that it is not the quantity of sleep that is important, but rather the quality. With fibromyalgia sufferers, the muscles are like a 24-hour convenience store that never stops working. It is the most important slow-wave sleep (delta-wave) that determines whether your muscles can actually relax and finally shut down. It takes a cycle of three complete sleep phases to allow you to reach this final resting stage of sleep.

A 1999 study by the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, demonstrated that delta-wave sleep deprivation leads to decreased pain threshold, increased discomfort, fatigue, and the inflammatory flare response in skin. It basically took healthy individuals and created Fibromyalgic-like symptoms without even reducing any actual sleep time. While the study used sound to inhibit the delta-wave sleep, a poor mattress can also inhibit this phase of sleep for two reasons:

Firstly, improper support from a poor mattress will cause your body to shift frequently throughout the night to find a more comfortable position. Every time you shift your body you are breaking the sleep cycle, and therefore inhibiting the chance of reaching the healing delta phase sleep.

Secondly, if your mattress increases pressure to specific muscles and joints of the body, then the resulting compression that is being placed on these areas may cause pain and tenderness.  Pain will also lead to a break in the sleep cycle and prevent delta-wave sleep from occurring.

The solution is to use a mattress that conforms to your body and traces the bumps and curves to evenly disperse the mattress pressure throughout your total body.  This will allow you to better reach the delta-wave sleep by remaining in a more comfortable and supportive position throughout the night. Higher-grade memory and latex foam will do this, but then return to its normal shape afterwards.  Throw out the old spring mattress, and don’t believe the air mattress hype—they just provide you with an inward bending hammock effect and will not offer the support you need to sleep your way back to health.


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