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October 2019

Fibromyalgia: Sleep & Mattress Guide

Fibromyalgia can be a living nightmare when it comes to trying to get a restful nights sleep. Aches, pains and a restless nights sleep will be all too familiar if you are a sufferer. If you're one of the 1 in 20 people affected by Fibromyalgia then this guide is here to help you sleep better.

Over the years we have spoken to hundreds of Fibromyalgia sufferers, some at their whits end, in trying to improve their sleep quality. The condition itself is debilitating and hard to both treat and clearly identify. This is incredibly frustrating for sufferers, as there is a real lack of understanding around this condition. Particularly in the bed industry.

Woman lying in pain on a bed
Fibromyalgia can leave you with a disturbed and restless sleeping pattern

People suffering from Fibromyalgia over the years have contacted us exasperated by the lack of understanding and help out there. We’ve made it our mission to provide guidance on this misunderstood illness. This article helps explain a bit more on the condition and provide guidance on how to help improve your sleep if you’re suffering from Fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that covers a number of different discomforts and pains in sufferers. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is classified by the NHS as a long term pain condition that causes pain all over the body with no exacting cause which can be incredibly frustrating for the sufferer. It is a condition that covers the following ailments:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Waking up tired and restless
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Problems with mental processes & concentration (sometimes referred to as “fibro-fog”)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive conditions that can cause stomach pain and bloating
  • Headaches
  • Clumsiness

What causes Fibromyalgia?

The causes of Fibromyalgia are not widely understood. The closest cause that professionals have found is linked to abnormal chemical levels in the brain of people who suffer from Fibromyalgia. In particular, the way that the central nervous system processes messages in the body leading to pain or discomfort.

Due to the lack of clarity for Fibromyalgia sufferers, it also means that advice needs to be given on a case by case basis. This is because sufferers can have a variety of symptoms or issues. This makes choosing a one size fits all mattress impossible. Without knowing your weight, height and comfort preferences combined with knowledge of how the condition affects you, then trying to simply 'pick' any mattress off the retail shelf will be impossible. We can use our vast experience with other sufferers to help you.
This makes choosing a one size fits all mattress for Fibromyalgia impossible.

Effects on sleep from Fibromyalgia

We’ve spoken to hundreds of Fibromyalgia sufferers around the impact it has on their sleep. For sufferers, they experience disturbed, erratic and uncomfortable nights sleep. This occurs mainly due to the discomfort that the condition causes making it incredibly difficult to get a good nights rest. This coupled with some poor mattress choices can lead to a really distressing sleep routine. This lack of sleep then compounds the issue making people who have fibromyalgia even more uncomfortable and the vicious cycle continues. Nights of restless sleep can cause the most unimaginable torment.

What’s the best mattress for Fibromyalgia?

As there are so many symptoms related to the illness its impossible to suggest a one size fits all mattress. Mattress retailers and websites that claim to have a mattress just right for Fibromyalgia should be taken with a pinch of salt and questionable ethics. The good news is that by assessing a few criteria, about you the sleeper, you can find a mattress that will help provide a more comfortable nights sleep. Thus reducing the negative impact that Fibromyalgia can have on your sleep pattern. Helping create a better nights sleep for you.

unmade mattress john ryan
Finding a mattress that suits your body weight and sleeping requirements is key

Most sufferers comment universally on one issue with their mattress and sleep. And that is discomfort caused by a mattress being too firm. This firmness can cause excess pressure against the body leading to joint pain which in turn leads to disturbance during the night from discomfort. With many mattress retailers simply suggesting an orthopaedic mattress for Fibromyalgia this exacerbates the issue by pairing up sufferers with incredibly firm mattresses. This puts more stress and discomfort on the sleeper.

Criteria for Better Sleep with Fibromyalgia:

  • Choosing a slightly softer mattress in the comfort layer to reduce joint pressure
  • Picking a spring tension that’s specific to your bodyweight
  • Carefully selecting deep comfort layers; allowing for more cushioning
  • A mattress that doesn’t retain heat by avoiding synthetic foams.

Restless sleeper with fibromyalgia

Charlie sent us a question as she was a restless sleeper with Fibromyalgia who was really suffering from only 4 hours sleep a night. She was constantly disturbing her partner and was in constant pain on their current rather firm mattress. After speaking to her extensively considering her height, weight and comfort requirements we identified that a Latex mattress may be suitable for her. Latex can be a great alternative to other foams as its incredibly progressive. It immediately contours to body parts based on pressure, unlike the dreaded memory foam which is super slow to react.

Artisan luxury mattress with roaring fire
The Artisan Luxury was best suited to Charlie as she could have a split tension and the softer upholstery was more suited for her pain condition being a light sleeper.

We also advised her that the Artisan Luxury which has an incredibly soft deep comfort layer would be suitable to take the pressure off her joints. This natural fibre mattress will be cooler than the latex model so when Charlie advised us she was a warm sleeper this was the model that she chose. She had a split tension zip and link so there was practically no transference when each of the sleepers needed to move. This mattress helped her sleep for longer in a far more comfortable position than her old firm model. We suggested a medium spring tension based on their weight, which was a far cry from the firm spring they had been on. No wonder her husband had developed a bad back!

Advice for a Fibromyalgia sleeper who spends most day in bed

Carol was spending a large amount of time in her old sagging memory foam mattress which was adding to the discomfort of her Fibromyalgia. She was getting warm at night, suffering from pain and backache. Her old mattress was super soft and offered no comfort. After a lengthy discussion with Carol about her needs and budget, there were two options we recommended. Either the Artisan Naturals which would give her a medium feel or the Artisan Luxury for a softer feel. Both of these required a soft spring tension given how light Carol was.

If you're spending most of your time in bed then a firmer upholstery layer is essential
If you're spending most of your time in bed then a firmer upholstery layer is essential
This is to provide extra longevity and support for this extended use
This is to provide extra longevity and support for this extended use

As Carol spent a lot of time in bed our ultimate recommendation was to choose the Artisan Naturals as this has a more medium feel. The reason for this is that if you’re spending large amounts of time in bed, more than 8 hours a day and you’re going to be sitting in bed, then a firmer feel mattress will better cope with these requirements. The spring tension always stays the same based on your weight but a firmer set of upholstery layers can help keep you supported and comfortable for extended periods of time.

Fibromyalgia and hip pain advice

We spoke to Kelly who was suffering from both Fibromyalgia and arthritis. In particular, it was affecting her sleep patterns by causing excess hip pain. She confided in us that she was tossing and turning during the night and that due to her weight her current mattress was sagging. Kelly was 18 stone and 5ft 7inches tall. After discussions around her sleeping position and nighttime routine, we suggested our Artisan Naturals mattress which has a true medium feel in the upholstery layer. Given Kelly’s weight, this allowed a medium sink in the top layer. As it has over 3500GSM of natural fillings it enables a softer sink giving much-needed respite to her sore hips and pains.

We also gave Kelly some advice on the base to which the potential mattress would be going on. As she was on the cusp of two different spring tensions due to her weight being 18 stone. This is at the top end of a medium spring at 1.4 gauge and bottom of a firm spring at 1.6 gauge.

Artisan Naturals side profile
The Artisan Naturals with its medium feel upholstery was ideal for Kelly.

This meant we advised her that if she was using a Sprung Edge Divan she would need to choose a firm spring whereas a solid slatted or platform top divan would require a medium spring. The reason she was offered two different tensions was that the sprung edge platform top would have added too much give and so a firmer spring for her weight at 18 stone was required. If she used a solid base then less support from the mattress was needed and thus a medium spring would be suitable.

Spring tensions are entirely dictated by your weight and don’t change the ‘feel of the mattress’. It’s this sort of tailored advice that can save you from choosing an incorrect mattress and base that you could end up uncomfortably stuck with.

BodyweightSpring tension
Upto 8 Stone / 50kgSoft
8-16 Stone / 50-101kgMedium
16 Stone / 101kg UpwardsFirm
Summary

It’s clear from speaking to hundreds of sufferers that Fibromyalgia is a really misunderstood and often overlooked illness. People who suffer from it have not only have to contend with pain, migraines and fibro-fuzz but sleepless disturbed nights. Which means that Fibromyalgia can turn into a living nightmare if the correct mattress is not properly diagnosed and recommended.

In most of the cases, we’ve spoken to sufferers are being recommended mattresses far too firm for them. Secondly, they are being recommended one piece mattresses when a zip & link can be far better in reducing transference from other sleepers. By taking advice and carefully considering your mattress you can increase comfort, reduce the motion transfer from other sleepers and ensure a comfortable yet supportive sleeping position. All leading to a far better nights sleep than slugging it out on a firm painful mattress.

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia or other pain condition and are struggling to sleep why not speak to our small friendly team for advice on 0161 437 4419 or drop us a question below if you prefer to chat via email.

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Sources:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fibromyalgia/

http://www.fmauk.org/

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