Norwegian researchers have discovered that sleep problems increase the chance of fibromyalgia in women.

Moreover, the risk of fibromyalgia increased in a dose-response relationship tied to the severity of sleep problems.

Researchers also discovered the association was stronger among middle-aged and older women than among younger women.

Experts estimate that fibromyalgia — a chronic musculoskeletal pain syndrome — affects more than 5 million people over the age of 18 in the U.S. Prior studies have shown that the syndrome typically begins in middle age with 90 percent of the cases affecting women.

While previous research has found that insomnia, nocturnal awakening, and fatigue are common symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, it was unknown whether poor sleep habits contribute to the development of this pain syndrome.

The prospective study was based on ten years of data from a population-based health study. The researchers selected 12,350 women who were free of musculoskeletal pain and movement disorders for the current study.

Female participants aged 20 and older participated in the study by answering a health-related questionnaire and undergoing clinical examination were included in the investigation.

“Our findings indicate a strong association between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia risk in adult women,” said Dr. Mork.

“We found a dose-response relation, where women who often reported sleep problems had a greater risk of fibromyalgia than those who never experienced sleep problems.”

Results show that at follow-up, 327 women had developed fibromyalgia — representing an incidence proportion of 2.6 percent during 10 years.

However, the risk was more than 3-5 times greater among women who reported sleep problems.

The authors suggest that further studies are needed to investigate whether early detection and treatment of sleep disturbance can reduce the risk of fibromyalgia in women.

The study appear in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

Source: Wiley-Blackwell