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The experience of sleep in chronic fatigue syndrome: A qualitative interview study with patients

  [ 7 votes ]   [ 2 Comments ]
By Zoe M. Gotts et al. • • March 9, 2015

By Zoe M. Gotts et al.


Objectives: Sleep disturbances are common in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and one of the key symptom complaints, yet it has been neglected by previous qualitative research. The aim was to explore the specific role of sleep in patients' experience of their illness.
Design: A qualitative semi-structured interview format facilitated a detailed and open exploration of sleep, and the extent to which its management and problems were linked to the lived experience of CFS.
Methods: Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals with CFS. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically, to explore and describe patients' experience of their sleep, and its impact on their condition.
Results: Sleep emerged as a key aspect of the illness experience, and its management and effect on daytime functioning was a central pre-occupation for all 11 participants; all of them saw sleep as playing a critical role in their illness through either maintaining or exacerbating existing symptoms. Exploration of individual experiences presented three overarching themes: (1) sleep pattern variability over illness course and from day to day; (2) effect of sleep on daytime functioning; and (3) attempts at coping and sleep management.
Conclusions: Each patient with CFS has a unique experience of sleep. Despite the differing narratives regarding the role of sleep in CFS, all participants held the belief that sleep is a vital process for health and well-being which has had a direct bearing on the course and progression of their CFS. Also, every participant regarded their sleep as in some way ‘broken' and in need of management/repair. Patients' insights demonstrate sleep-specific influences on their CFS, and the impact of disturbed sleep should be a consideration for clinical and research work.
Source: Zoe M. Gotts, Julia L. Newton, Jason G. Ellis and Vincent Deary. The experience of sleep in chronic fatigue syndrome: A qualitative interview study with patients. British Journal of Health Psychology. Article first published online: 26 FEB 2015 DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12136

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CFS study
Posted by: nicklausmillican
Mar 14, 2015
Full commentary at:

Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also called "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), face a condition as frustrating as it is debilitating. Unlike other health conditions, such as bacterial infections or diabetes, CFS has no readily apparent marker(s) for a definitive diagnosis. This has seemingly led to misguided treatments and implied accusations of hypochondria or fakery.

However, a recent study from the Center of Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has identified a consistent peculiarity in the immune functioning of CFS/ME sufferers. Namely, an increase in the levels of immuno chemicals called "cytokines" in the first few years of the condition, and a general decrease below normal levels in later years.

I want to relate these findings to the causes of CFS/ME, but I should first give a larger overview on the topic.

Read full at:
Reply Reply

Glycine and sleep
Posted by: Photo1776Bill
Jan 13, 2016
I have found that taking the amino acid glycine before bed helps with falling and staying asleep. Glycine is a precursor to GABA and also an important endogenous regulator of inflammation. It is a non-essential amino acid -- the body makes it -- however, since the amino acids glycine and methionine are reciprocal, the body uses up glycine to get rid of excess methionine. We only need a few hundred milligrams of methionine as the body, mainly the liver, is very good at recycling it. The western diet is heavy in methionine-rich meat (like steak) and very poor in glycine (typically found in cartilage -- bone broth).

Glycine is a neuro-inhibitory (relaxing) amino acid which may explain why it helps with sleep. Since the body manufactures it, glycine, until recently, hasn't gotten much attention. However, in our western methionine-rich diets (eggs, fish and poultry are also high in it) is may well be we need supplemental glycine (Great Lakes Gelatin is 29% glycine, it is also available as a stand-alone supplement -- I use NOW glycine powder). Unlike much of the world, and our past history, we no longer eat the whole animal, specifically bone/cartilage (made into bone-broth).

Dr. Joel Brind, Professor of Biology and Endocrinology at Baruch College, has an interesting article on the subject at 180DegreeHealth.
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