Sleep and ME/CFS

Managing Symptoms: Sleep and ME/CFS

Sleep is an essential of life. Unfortunately, rather ironically ME/CFS sufferers get disturbed and unrefreshing sleep – which is in fact one of the diagnostic criteria. This can be for a variety of reasons, apart from the nature of the illness itself. Insomnia is an often reported symptom accompanying ME/CFS. It can be extremely frustrating for all concerned.

You may want to be referred to a sleep specialist (sleep physician) to undertake an overnight sleep study, to possibly eliminate or explore sleep apnoea or other sleep abnormalities/anomalies as a source of, or contributor to your fatigue. The cost varies for this study. Depending on whether it is undertaken at home or as an in-patient. The former is a far cheaper option, but please discuss your individual circumstances with your treating physician.

The following link is to a website called Sleep Disorders Australia, there you will find information on sleep disorders including sleep apnoea and the treatment(s) for the conditions, and other information on sleep including fact sheets, such as their ones on insomnia and sleep hygiene.

The following articles have some information on sleep and ME/CFS. Be sure to discuss these ideas with your doctor.

News Article: Myhill, S (2010) “ME/CFS and sleep: Managing a free-wheeling brain for needed repair“, Prohealth, April 14.

Journal Article: Stein, E (2009) “Beyond tired: Helping patients cope with chronic fatigue syndrome“, Pharmacy Practice, Dec/Jan 2009, pp. 14-21. See pages 15-21 of the article for sleep information.

Book: Myhill, S (2009) “Diagnosing and treating chronic fatigue syndrome“, 27th edition, Sarah Myhill Limited, Powys. See pages 49-54 of the book for sleep information.

The following three articles have been written by Pamela Young at the CFIDS Association of America: The Biology of Sleep: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

Sleep Hygiene: Important for everyone regardless of ME/CFS

An inexpensive way of attempting to improve one’s sleep is by improving one’s sleep hygiene. By that we mean “habits that help you to have a good night’s sleep”. This Victorian Government webpage will hopefully give you some pointers on how you can find a better night’s sleep.

Pharmacological Aids

Many ME/CFS patients have sought pharmaceutical help from their GP or sleep physician in order to obtain a good night’s sleep. There are many options, however in many cases these are short term fixes. You should discuss your options and their periods for use, with your treating medical practitioner.

Further reading

Gotts, Z. M., et al. “The experience of sleep in chronic fatigue syndrome: A qualitative interview study with patients.Br J Health Psychol, 2016, 21(1): 71-92.

Snodgrass, K., et al. “Sleep Disturbances in Pediatric Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Review of Current Research.J Clin Sleep Med, 2015, 11(7): 757-764.

Jackson, M. L., et al. “Sleep quality and the treatment of intestinal microbiota imbalance in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A pilot study.Sleep Sci, 2015, 8(3): 124-133.

Gotts, Z. M., et al. “The Association between Daytime Napping and Cognitive Functioning in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.PLoS One, 2015, 10(1): e0117136.

Mariman, A. N., et al.  “Sleep in the chronic fatigue syndrome.Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2013, 17(3), 193-199.

Lavigne, G. J. “Thread emerges from three papers on pain, chronic fatigue, and sleep: Avenues for deeper understanding.Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2013, 17(3), 169-171.

Jackson, M. L. and D. Bruck. “Sleep abnormalities in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a review.J Clin Sleep Med, 2012, 8(6): 719-728.

Rahman, K., et al. “Sleep-wake behavior in chronic fatigue syndrome.Sleep, 2011, 34(5): 671-678.

Kishi, A., et al. “Sleep-stage dynamics in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome with or without fibromyalgia.Sleep, 2011, 34(11): 1551-1560.

Togo, F., et al. “Sleep is not disrupted by exercise in patients with chronic fatigue syndromes.Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2010, 42(1): 16-22.

Libman, E., et al. “Sleep apnea and psychological functioning in chronic fatigue syndrome.J Health Psychol, 2009, 14(8): 1251-1267.

Togo, F., et al. “Sleep structure and sleepiness in chronic fatigue syndrome with or without coexisting fibromyalgia.Arthritis Res Ther, 2008, 10(3): R56.

Kishi, A., et al. “Dynamics of sleep stage transitions in healthy humans and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.Am. J. Physiol., 2008, 294(6, Pt. 2): R1980-R1987.

Reeves, W. C., et al. “Sleep characteristics of persons with chronic fatigue syndrome and non-fatigued controls: results from a population-based study.BMC Neurol, 2006, 6: 41.

Guilleminault, C., et al. “Chronic fatigue, unrefreshing sleep and nocturnal polysomnography.Sleep Medicine, 2006, 7(6): 513-520.

Unger, E. R., et al. “Sleep assessment in a population-based study of chronic fatigue syndrome.BMC Neurol, 2004, 4: 6.

Fischler, B. “Review of clinical and psychobiological dimensions of the chronic fatigue syndrome: differentiation from depression and contribution of sleep dysfunctions.Sleep Medicine Reviews, 1999, 3(2), 131-146.