A new study suggests that sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of developing fibromyalgia.
The study was conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and included 12,350 women. At the outset of the study, all the women were free of physical impairment, musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia. A decade later, 327 of the women—2.6% of the study population—had developed fibromyalgia. Researchers asked all the women in the study to report on their sleep habits and their sleep problems. They found that women who reported sleep problems were significantly more likely to have developed fibromyalgia than women without sleep problems. The researchers also found that the risk of fibromyalgia increases with a woman’s age and with the severity of sleep problems:
- Women who reported having difficulty sleeping “always” or “often” had nearly 3½ times greater risk of fibromyalgia as women who did not have problems sleeping
- Women age 45 and older who “always” or “often” had sleep problems had more than five times the risk of developing fibromyalgia as women without sleep problems
- Younger women, ages 20-44, who “always” or “often” had difficulty sleeping were at three times greater risk of developing fibromyalgia than their counterparts who didn’t have trouble with sleep
It’s important to make clear that this study does not prove that sleep deficiencies cause fibromyalgia. What it does do—for the first time—is establish a strong connection between sleep problems and fibromyalgia by showing the increased risk of fibromyalgia that is associated with lack of sleep.
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