An estimated half of all fibromyalgia patients have sleep apnea | Are you one of them?

This post is sponsored by Aeroflow Healthcare through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. 

#Sleep apnea is a common comorbidity among #fibromyalgia patients. Aeroflow Healthcare offers at-home sleep apnea testing.

There are many theories on what causes fibromyalgia, one of which is that it’s actually a sleep disorder. The rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia fell into this category. He was certain that if he could just fix my disrupted sleep, then my symptoms would improve.

After a year of trying various medications, I gave up on his theory. No matter what medication he prescribed to zonk me out, I still woke up exhausted and in pain.

Numerous research studies have documented sleep disturbance in fibromyalgia patients, but one of the most interesting findings is the high rate of sleep apnea. While figures vary by study, an estimated HALF of all fibromyalgia patients have sleep apnea, and most of us don’t even know it.

#Sleep apnea is a common comorbidity among #fibromyalgia patients. Aeroflow Healthcare offers at-home sleep apnea testing. | Fed Up with Fatigue

This mishmash of wires and bands is typical of what to expect when having a sleep test in a lab setting. Aeroflow Healthcare’s at-home sleep apnea testing is so much more convenient. Fewer wires! Sleep in your own bed! Perform the test on your schedule!

Sleep apnea is “a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which excess tissue blocks the air or nasal passages, depriving the brain and body of oxygen.

As Adrienne Dellwo with VeryWell.com explains, “When OSA stops your breathing, your blood oxygen levels drop, your heart beats faster, you get a burst of stress hormones and your body rouses you to restart breathing.”

Those affected by sleep apnea may have no idea they’ve stopped breathing, but their sleeping partners probably do. It’s common for the affected party to let out a loud gasp, cough or choking sound when breathing resumes, often waking the person they’re lying beside.

In addition to causing daytime exhaustion, sleep apnea is linked to several serious, life-threatening conditions, including stroke, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes and sudden death.

Researchers aren’t sure why so many people with fibromyalgia have sleep apnea.

“It’s possible that apnea-caused sleep deprivation contributes to the development of fibromyalgia,” Dellwo writes in an article. “It’s also possible that lax connective tissues associated with fibromyalgia may make airway obstructions more likely.”

As I reviewed the research on the connection between fibromyalgia and sleep apnea, one sentence kept popping up: Fibromyalgia patients should be screened for sleep apnea.

A polysomnogram, often called a sleep study, is the most common tool for diagnosing sleep apnea. This test generally requires the patient to spend the night away from home in a sleep center and can cost more than $1,000.

I had one of these tests a couple of years ago, and let me just say I’m surprised they recovered any sleep data from me at all. I was hooked up to what seemed like thousands of wires, on my head, chest, legs and on and on. Then, I was asked to sleep in a strange bed, in a semi-noisy room, with cameras watching my every move. I even had to ring my sleep clinician to come in and unhook me from my tangle of wires if I had to use the bathroom during the night. It was beyond uncomfortable!

Fortunately, there is a way to test for sleep apnea that doesn’t involve feeling like you’re on an episode of “Big Brother.” Aeroflow Healthcare, a provider of durable medical equipment, offers at-home sleep studies – no doctor’s referral needed! Health insurance often covers the cost.

#Sleep apnea is a common comorbidity among #fibromyalgia patients. Aeroflow Healthcare offers at-home sleep apnea testing. | Fed Up with Fatigue

A CPAP machine keeps the airway open, reducing the number of awakenings during the night and improving sleep quality.

A trained sleep specialist helps determine the best sleep test for each patient. The patient receives a device to wear while sleeping, which measures blood oxygen levels and pulse rate, as well as their Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI), the number of times there’s a 10 second or greater pause in breathing each hour. The AHI detects the presence and severity of sleep apnea.

The at-home test only requires four to six hours to complete, and patients get to sleep in the comfort of their own beds. The test is also much more affordable than a sleep-center study.

Once the device is shipped back to Aeroflow, a sleep specialist reviews the collected data and contacts the patient to discuss his or her results and treatment options.

Sleep apnea treatment usually involves the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine or an oral appliance to help keep the airway open while sleeping. While it may take a while to get used to using a CPAP or oral appliance, most patients report their sleep improves once properly treated for sleep apnea. For fibromyalgia patients, getting better quality sleep may also lead to less pain, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your best tip for improving sleep? Share in the comments! 


  1. This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Thank you!

  2. Prashanti says

    I did the sleep study and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. (I also have CFS and fibro.) The CPAP just didn’t work for me. It dried out my eyes and gave me ear aches.
    I have found an amazing product that works for me. I actually did another sleep study with it and didn’t have apnea with it. However, it is not proven for apnea, but worth a try. It only works for me when I sleep on my side.
    The device is called “Good Morning Snore Solution”….crazy name, right? It pulls your tongue forward and opens up the throat. Only costs around $100.
    Because my nasal passages need help also I use Sleep Right Breathe Aid.
    So it’s a little strange looking at night, but nothing compared to a CPAP

  3. Caroline says

    I had such bad symptoms of exhaustion and mental confusion that affected my job so severely that I believed I was going to lose my job due to early onset Alzheimers (my family has a history of Alzheimers). My Primary Physician got me in to see a neurologist at Duke University because of the job performance issues. I had a brain MRI and other tests, and Alzheimers was ruled out. Then he scheduled me for a sleep test – turns out I had severe Sleep Apnea – stopped breathing 50 times an hour. I got on the CPAP machine and felt better immediately – for about 6 months. Then the feelings of exhaustion and mental fog (not as disabling as before though), now accompanied by pain all over came back. To sum it up, after many blood tests to rule out everything else, my rheumatologist diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue and probable Fibro. So, the CPAP keeps me from having a heart attack or stroke, but it hasn’t improved my overall CF/Fibro symptoms.

  4. Helena says

    I also have had 2 sleep studies done and like the poster above they found my brain was continually waking me up by sending a burst of adrenaline. I practice good sleep hygiene but it doesn’t make a difference. I have tried all types of meds from sleeping pills to antidepressants. All the alternative stuff too. I’m going on 18 years without more than 4-5 hours a night of chopped up sleep. What I have noticed is my pain plays a huge part of disturbing my sleep. I get locked in a loop of unrestorative sleep-pain-high anxiety and repeat. Every once in a while my body tries to reset by keeping me awake for 30 hours! But even when I collapse from exhaustion I only get 6 hours of chopped up sleep. The only thing I have found that works is 0.5 Xanax under my tongue right when I go to bed. Then when I wake up 3-4 hours later is take it again. But this type of sleep still doesn’t replenish my energy reserves as I still fight chronic fatigue all day long. Too tired to be awake and too tired to sleep!

  5. Bernadine says

    I was diagnosed with sleep apnea around the same time I was diagnosed with fibro. At the time I was still active at work, working a job that was very physical in nature. I’ve always had trouble breathing through my nose, and even more so after returning from Desert Storm. I had been exposed to the fallout from the oil well fires, which over time, made my ability to breathe normally through my nose almost impossible. It wasn’t until I started having trouble staying awake at work and on the drive home, that I finally said something to my rheumatologist, who sent me to a sleep specialist. I notice a huge difference in the quality of sleep I get when I use it. It’s not the cure, but it certainly helps. I just started on CBD, which helps with the restless legs and arms. I also recently started on a product made by Olly called Restful Sleep. It’s a gummy that you take 30 minutes prior to bed. It contains melatonin, L-Theanine (an amino acid), and botanicals.

  6. OK, I am one of both of them so I will be very brave and say it – could the common link be that so many who have both Fibromyalgia and sleep apnea be that we are all obese? Or a very significant amount of us are? I certainly know I bring much of my pain on to myself by my poor choices in eating. I need to reduce down to a normal or below normal weight. The joints suffer, my back, my mental state and energy suffers and yet I turn to non nutritional food for comfort. Let’s quit with the excuses and face up to what we really need to do, certainly myself included, to be HEALTHY! Not pills and potions! We are the food we eat and if we have not tried that, really given eating to Live and gotten every extra ounce off of us in a safe healthy way, we deserve no sympathy for our pain and handicaps, me included. Oh yeah yeah, I can’t exercise much either, but it is 80% in the eating and we CAN stop stuffing our mouths with Doritos and SWEETS, the worst for my pain, I can feel sugar the next day, like a hangover, yet I can’t learn. No excuses. Join me? Let’s save ourselves from ourselves!

  7. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the Mayo Clinic in 2006, as no specialist in my SK city was knowledgeable about it. The Mayo Clinic doctors strongly suspected sleep apnea, and I had to wait 5 years to have a study done at my city’s hospital sleep clinic! The night nurses said they’d have lost money betting on me, as they didn’t think I’d have sleep apnea – slim, strong chin, active….and then I stopped breathing 90 times per hour…once I fell asleep with all the wires, straps, and blinking lights as Donna mentioned. So what helps?! SWIFT nasal pillows attached to hose on RESMED CPAP machine (with an attached humidifier), 12 drops CBD oil in glycerine tincture for pain/restless legs, 5 drops THC oil in glycerine tincture for sleep,CBD salve rub for sore muscles, lavender sachet, blackout curtains, orgonite crystal (Dr. Wilhelm Reich research), no EMF 2 hours before bed or in bedroom, no sugar/refined carbs in diet, heated gel pack under my neck, super soft down pillow, dark quiet room, super soft cotton or fleece sheets, high quality soft memory foam (for muscles) on top of firm bed (for back support), the ever offered massage from my lovely generous husband, same bedtime routine 9pm – up by 6:30am. And, I love the starfish position on my back, like I’m floating in a sensory deprivation tank! If all that doesn’t work some nights, I get up, make a cup of Sleepy Time tea and sit and warm my back muscles by the (gas) fire and then watch it as a visual meditation.

  8. Denise Bault says

    I’ve had two sleep studies, surgery to correct obstructive sleep apnea and gone through two CPAP machines. I’ve also tried sleep medications. AND NONE OF IT HAS HELPED ME GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST. I was told my brain was waking me up 10-15 times an hour! Apparently, our brains are waking us up without our realization. Our bodies do not follow the usual sleep patterns of normal people, which is why we wake up feeling often like we have barely slept. Sometimes I lie in bed, thinking that I’m not sleeping for 15 minutes or so, then I look at the clock and an hour and a half has gone by. I believe it’s because I’m either stuck in the first stage of sleep or I’m being taken back to an earlier sleep stage. So very frustrating! When I tell people I feel like I’m 108 years old, it’s because I’m EXHAUSTED from not getting any good quality restorative sleep! I wish they could figure out why this happens. Fourteen years without a decent night’s sleep is an awfully long time…

  9. Robyne Huber says

    Trying to get to sleep same time daily. I’ve fd Gaia brand ‘Sound Sleep’ (homeopathic ) usually helps along w/ 200mg L-Theanine & product called ‘Zen Sleep’nought from Chinese medical store. Need to take 2.
    Don’t like to take melatonin cause can get acclimated tinit so best way to use is to alternate dosage: ie: 1st nite 3mg, 2nd nite 2 mg, 3rd nite 1 mg, 4th nite none then repeat
    (If take 3 mg all time brains ability to produce it on own atrophies.)

    If I’m overly overly tired I sometimes will have some coffee which just makes me tired & able to sleep!! Discovered that in grad school.
    I’ve had 2 sleep studies 1 didn’t follow doctors instructions & didn’t use CPAP 2nd part of text.
    My BIL never wore his CPAP but now has very simple face mask like those worn in hosp to provide more oxygen.
    Also in hosp they put so much gook on your head to connect the brain connectors it’s terrible! (But they have bathroom with shower. I also brought all my meds with me to take & they usually have TV IN room & I brought snacks with me… just in case. I often also have weather channel on very low volume & that often helps cause ads aren’t louder! Also can listen to fav singer very softly.
    But if in lots of pain I resort to Vick’s Vaporub on soles of feet; pain lotions, & pain meds both natural & dr prescribed Ketamine nasal spray which helps.i put blankets under body.
    But sometimes nothing helps! And I can be up for 2days ( sleep worsened with Lyme’s. which often causes me to have nape of neck pain in eve.
    I periodically think of returning for another sleep study.

  10. Ken Hess says

    I have been using a CPAP machine for 12 years, and while it helps, I still don”t get a good quality sleep. If I get 6 hours of sleep a night, I feel lucky. Most of the reason I don’t get good sleep is a fibro and joint pains. I have tried a multitude of drugs and processes without much gain, but I still use the CPAP because it does make a difference.

  11. Virginia C. Null says

    I sleep on an air bed with a built in pump, which allows me to adjust to whatever firmness I require for any particular night. I also bought a whole body pillow that was designed especially for Fibromyalgia sufferers. It is in a “U”shape and is about 104″long and about 8″in diameter. It goes with me wherever I go, along with the airbed (and I do travel alot), so it helps me tremendously!
    The cost of airbed is a touch over $100. The cost of the pillow is $129, plus the cover (optional), for another $39. Well worth it! The bed is queen size so cat and I have plenty of room.
    I found Ambien 10mg helps me to get a solid 5hrs sleep and I I’m up and ready to go and clear headed as my condition allows. When I can get a solid five hours sleep, well, that is a wonderful, beautiful thing indeed.

  12. SharLynn says

    I had sleep apnea for years before the Fibro diagnosis.


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