New research has found that improved sleep efficiency in patients who suffer from fibromyalgia and insomnia may improve their pain-related disorder. Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by extensive musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, which is often accompanied by fatigue, mood and memory as well as sleep issues.
The disorder is often caused by stressful events, which may include emotional, psychological or physical stress. Injuries or viral infections may also cause this pain disorder.
On the other hand, insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard for individuals to fall asleep or stay asleep. This common disorder may also cause individuals to not be able to go back to sleep once they awake or cause them to wake too early. Most insomnia cases are associated with poor sleeping habits, anxiety, depression, chronic illnesses, lack of exercise and some medications.
The study in question was carried out by a University of Missouri postdoctoral fellow Neetu Nair of the Mizzou Sleep Research Lab, as well as her colleagues. Their objective was to determine if sleep moderated the link between the brain and its reactions to painful stimuli in patients suffering from insomnia and fibromyalgia.
For their study, the researchers recruited 29 patients with fibromyalgia and insomnia. Each participant was required to wear an activity monitor for a 14-day period and undergo fMRI with a quantitative sensory testing protocol using thermal stimuli. Participants were also asked to complete the Pain Disability Index.
Moderators included sleep onset latency, sleep efficiency and total sleep time while variables included pain disability index scores and 12 brain regions with substantial changes in activation.
Sleep onset latency refers to the time it takes individuals to fall asleep after they’ve switched their lights off while sleep efficiency refers to the percentage of time individuals spend asleep while in bed. The researchers discovered that sleep efficiency moderated the association between the pain disability index score and activity of the cingulate gyrus. The cingulate gyrus helps the body regulate pain and emotions.
The researchers also observed a negative relationship between the pain disability score and right cingulate gyrus at lower sleep efficiency levels and negative links between the highest sleep onset latency levels. This is in addition to observing positive links between the right frontal gyrus and the pain disability index score at the highest total sleep time levels.
In their report, the researchers noted that their findings suggested that more sleep time that targeted higher sleep efficiency could improve pain-related disability in patients with insomnia and fibromyalgia. To help these patients further, companies such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are developing novel formulations specifically targeting fibromyalgia and other systemic pain conditions to address this largely unmet medical need.
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