There is a strong dose-dependent association between sleep problems and the risk of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) in women. The association is stronger in middle-aged and older women than it is in younger women, although not significantly stronger.
Mork and Nilsen longitudinally studied 12,350 women who did not have FMS, musculoskeletal pain, or physical impairment at baseline. The patients were asked to report physician-diagnosed FMS and duration of musculoskeletal pain. Sleep problems at baseline were assessed.
Sleep problems were positively associated with the risk of FMS in a dose-dependent manner. In the overall study population, the adjusted risk ratio (RR) for FMS development was 3.43 among women who reported experiencing sleep problems often or always, compared with women who did not have sleep problems. Women who reported experiencing sleep problems sometimes had a 2-fold increase in risk of FMS. Women aged 45 years and older and those aged 20 to 44 years who often or always had sleep problems had adjusted RRs for FMS development of 5.41 and 2.98, respectively, compared with those without sleep problems.
The authors suggested that future studies investigate whether early detection and management of sleep problems can reduce the risk of chronic widespread pain.