Pain and Sleep
Pain wakes people up. In several international studies pain is the leading cause of sleep and rest loss, particularly in developing countries. Some causes of pain, however, are much more prone to cause different kinds of sleep disorders. Fibromyalgia is one of those.
Fibromyalgia and Other Systemic Illnesses
Fibromyalgia is poorly understood and more often poorly treated. Until recently many physicians, including high proportions of rheumatologists, did not think it truly real. The varying symptoms of the illness, it’s many changes, the ability of someone to look okay one day and a complete wreck the next, flummoxes physicians. Its effects on patients are far, far worse.
That’s why recent data on fibromyalgia and sleep should make people recognize what systemic auto-immune illnesses do – affect just about anything in your body.
Data from the University of Washington, using a simple case control design found restless legs syndrome to be 11 times more common in fibromyalgia than among controls. Other studies have shown high rates of sleep apnea among people with fibromyalgia.
You don’t provoke illnesses like restless legs and arms, or sleep apnea without major physiologic changes in the brain and muscles. That’s what systemic illnesses do.
And though the causes of fibromyalgia remain unclear, large number of sufferers have been found to carry the XMRV virus in their cells. XMRV is a retrovirus, like AIDS, and is usually found in mice. What is it doing in people?
Other studies have linked XMRV virus with prostate cancer. Whatever it’s doing, whether as interloper in an immunocompromised person or as a potential cause of illness, it shouldn’t be there. Yet many with fibromyalgia have it floating around their cytoplasm.
Illness and Rest
What people with fibromyalgia (and other systemic illnesses) require is rest. When they do “too much,” which can be something as simple as a three minute walk, fibromyalgia victims have to sit down and rest. Without rest, they cannot restore and recover.
That’s what illness does – modify or corrupt the body’s natural rest-regeneration cycle so things are not rebuilt the way they should. When this cycle is interrupted, whether by fibromyalgia, a broken Achilles tendon, or an upper respiratory infection, people need more time to rest. They need time and rest rest to get around the bottlenecks to renewal illness causes. Often they need rest to clear out inflammatory changes and then rebuild the cells in ways that will work.
Nothing stays the same, but without rest to rebuild, the body simply won’t work. Systemic illnesses are many. The effects of tumors, heart disease, sleep apnea, and autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia often affect several organs at once. Everything in the body is connected. The body’s information processing systems learn, respond, and then modify their rebuilding. Illness stops that process in its tracks.
Unless we give the right information to let the rebuild commence. Rest is as necessary to survival as food. It’s just that much more necessary when you get sick.
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