Chronic insomnia is a serious problem for many people. According to the National Sleep Foundation, roughly 30% of the general population regularly experiences sleep disruption. For people who have fibromyalgia, ME/CFS or chronic Lyme disease, that percentage is significantly higher. More than 75% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, approximately 60% of those with ME/CFS, and up to 90% of people with chronic Lyme disease have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and/or awakening from sleep feeling rested and refreshed.
ProHealth founder, Rich Carson, is one of those people. Tired of fighting the nightly battle for sleep, he set out to develop a product that would help not only himself, but also the millions of others like him for whom sleep remains just a dream. Rich tells his story…
“Sleep issues are huge when it comes to fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and chronic Lyme. As an ME/CFS patient myself, I suffer from chronic insomnia. While I found a number of supplements for sleep – like melatonin, 5-HTP, valerian, chamomile, lemon balm, L-theanine and an absorbable form of magnesium – I was tired of having to take several different products to get the results I needed. I wanted to be able to take a single product that provided the most potent sleep-supporting nutrients available – something that acted quickly, was safe and natural and had few, if any, side effects.
“First, I put together a wish list of supplements that were all conducive to sleep. After experimenting for months with different combinations of sleep-supporting herbs and nutrients, I came up with an all-in-one balanced formula I call FibroSleep. Next, I tested it on myself and friends with remarkable success. I knew FibroSleep would work, but what surprised me most was just how well it worked! Many people say it’s the most potent and effective sleep supplement they’ve tried.”
Understanding the Sleep Cycle
In order to understand why fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and chronic Lyme patients have such a hard time getting quality sleep, it is first necessary to understand what happens during a normal sleep cycle. Although you may think of sleep as a time of rest, your body is actually quite busy doing some of its most important work, like repairing cells, secreting certain hormones into the blood, and consolidating memories. It is also thought that the immune system turns on during deep sleep to combat illness.
Each night our body cycles through five stages of sleep:
- Stage 1: Light sleep – the time between being fully awake and entering sleep
- Stage 2: Onset of sleep
- Stages 3 and 4: Deepest, most restorative sleep
- Stage 5: REM (rapid eye movement): Brain is active and dreams occur
A complete sleep cycle takes about 90 to 110 minutes and is repeated four to six times per night, with the initial REM period occurring about 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first sleep cycles each night consist of relatively short REM periods and long periods of deep sleep. As the night progresses, REM sleep periods increase in length while deep sleep decreases. By morning, most people spend nearly all of their sleep time in stages 1, 2, and REM.(1)
However, if you have fibromyalgia, ME/CFS or Lyme disease, your body is probably not making it through the complete sleep cycle without interruption.
Sleep Cycle Interruptions – Where It All Goes Wrong
The following sleep studies demonstrate why people with fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and chronic Lyme have so many sleep problems:
- A 2008 sleep study compared 26 ME/CFS patients (12 with coexisting FM) with 26 healthy controls. The researchers found that the ME/CFS patients had significantly reduced total sleep time, reduced sleep efficiency, and shorter bouts of sleep than healthy controls. They concluded that the sleep differences seen between the ME/CFS patients and healthy controls were primarily due to a decrease in the length of periods of uninterrupted sleep.(2)
- In 1975 Dr. Harvey Moldofsky first discovered that fibromyalgia patients had an “internal arousal mechanism” that interrupted their stage 4 deep sleep(3), and multiple studies since then have confirmed his findings. This interruption of deep sleep by sudden bursts of awake-like brain activity is now called the alpha-EEG anomaly.
- A Danish review of research done on pain and sleep, with special reference to fibromyalgia, reported that most studies found the alpha-EEG anomaly to be very prevalent in FM patients.(4)
- A 2013 study comparing ME/CFS patients to healthy controls found that the ME/CFS patients had significant changes in heart rate variability measures during sleep. The researchers also found evidence that the reduced sleep efficiency and reduced total sleep time of ME/CFS patients might be caused by increased sympathetic nervous system activity during non-REM sleep stages.(5)
- A 1995 study comparing late Lyme disease patients to healthy controls found that the Lyme patients had greater sleep latency, decreased sleep efficiency and a greater arousal index. Three of 11 patients demonstrated alpha-wave intrusion into NREM sleep.(6)
Drugs vs. Supplements for Sleep
Often fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and chronic Lyme patients are prescribed antidepressants or sleeping medications in an effort to help them sleep better. While these medications may help you fall asleep faster and sleep for more hours, most of them do little to improve the important deeper sleep stages – the time when your body is restoring and replenishing itself. In fact, some medications actually interfere with deep sleep. Plus, all medications carry the risk of side effects. So finding a natural method of improving sleep quality offers a much better option.
FibroSleep Provides 4-Way Sleep Support
FibroSleep™ is a powerful blend of pure, natural ingredients that have been used for thousands of years to support deep, restorative sleep. It works in four important and synergistic ways:
1. Herbal Sleep Support – FibroSleep contains Sedapine™, a proprietary blend of herbs that have been used for thousands of years to provide effective support for sleep, relaxation, and general health. This Sedapine blend contains:
- Ziziphus Spinosa – the most prescribed medicinal herb for sleep and relaxation support in China and throughout Asia.
- Corydalis – historically employed in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine to support relaxation and stress reduction.
- Valerian – the most researched sleep-supporting herb in the world. No herb has proven to be more effective in clinical trials for providing effective support for improved sleep. One review identified 12 studies showing that valerian by itself or in combination with hops was associated with improvements in sleep latency (the time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep) and quality of sleep.(7)
- Passion Flower – provides support for stress, anxiety, and sleep. It is also has calming and restorative properties.
2. Digestive Support – Calming and supporting the digestive tract is an essential first step in attaining restful, restorative sleep. FibroSleep promotes deep sleep and digestive healing by addressing antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory needs.
- Lemon Balm – used to promote comfort, relaxation, and calm the digestive and nervous systems. It provides synergistic sleep support when combined with Valerian.
- Ginger – a calming anti-inflammatory and digestive aid used to settle the stomach and promote peristalsis. It offers over 150 times the protein digesting power of papaya and contains at least 22 known anti-inflammatories and 12 antioxidants.
- Peppermint – traditionally used as a relaxant, it calms the muscles of the stomach, helps reduce excessive gas production, improves the flow of bile used in fat digestion, and promotes proper elimination.
- Hops – acts directly on the central nervous system to support the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, improve central nervous system activity, and calm and soothe digestion.
3. Muscle and Nerve Support – Supporting muscle and nerve health is important for proper sleep. FibroSleep contains two highly bioavailable forms of magnesium to help balance nerve transmission and muscle fiber contraction, along with the calming amino acid, taurine.
- ZMA™ – a great source of extremely bioavailable magnesium and zinc that supports sleep and healing by aiding in the transport of oxygen to nerve and muscle cells. Magnesium is the number one mineral deficiency in the United States, and zinc is the most important mineral for immune system function.
- Magnesium Taurinate – a bioavailable yet gentle source of magnesium combined with the nervous-system-calming amino acid L-taurine.
4. Amino Acid Support – Amino acids are the building blocks of life and are critically important for nerve cell health as well as neurotransmitter and hormone production and balance.
- GABA – the main calming amino acid in the central nervous system, this naturally produced substance helps to induce relaxation and sleep. It is also known for supporting healthy pituitary function as well as for its calming effect on over-stimulated neurons.
- Melatonin – a natural hormone produced by the body that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. It supports the body’s own production of the tranquilizing neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a key role in healthy sleep patterns and mood. Recommended by more and more doctors as a safe and natural sleep enhancer, melatonin has become the most popular sleep-support compound in the natural food industry.
- 5-HTP – used by the body to make serotonin. Several small clinical trials have found it may provide significant support for fibromyalgia, sleep, mood, and migraines.
- L-Theanine – a calming amino acid found in green tea that can increase levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Studies suggest it may reduce feelings of mental and physical stress and may produce feelings of relaxation. It is also thought to enhance immune function and boost levels of glutathione. L-Theanine increases the brain’s alpha wave activity, which is associated with deep relaxation.
Research Behind FibroSleep Ingredients
There are a number of interesting studies available on both the individual ingredients in FibroSleep as well as on various combinations of those ingredients as they relate to sleep quality. Here are just a few:
Valerian and Hops: A 1998 German study comparing the use of a hops-valerian combination with a benzodiazepine drug found them to be comparable in effectiveness for improving sleep. The one big difference was that those taking the benzodiazepine experienced withdrawal symptoms when the stopped but those taking the hops-valerian did not. The investigators concluded that a hops-valerian combination was a “sensible alternative to benzodiazepine” for treating sleep problems.(8)
Passion Flower: A 2011 Australian study of 41 participants who were given passion flower tea and a placebo, separated by a one-week ‘washout’ period, found that their sleep quality significantly improved when they used the passion flower as opposed to the placebo.(9)
Melatonin, Magnesium and Zinc: Forty-three people with primary insomnia were given either a supplement consisting of melatonin, magnesium and zinc or a placebo one hour before bedtime for eight weeks in a 2011 Italian study. The group taking the supplement had significantly better scores on three different sleep-evaluation instruments, indicating that the treatment had a beneficial effect on the restorative value of sleep. The authors concluded that the nightly administration of melatonin, magnesium and zinc appeared to improve both the quality of sleep and the quality of life of the participants.(10)
GABA and 5-HTP: In a 2010 study, 18 patients with sleep disorders were given either a preparation containing GABA and 5-HTP (hydroxytryptophan) or a placebo. The researchers reported that the differences between the two groups were significant, concluding that the GABA/5-HTP combination reduced the time to fall asleep, decreased sleep latency, increased the duration of sleep, and improved the quality of sleep.(11)
What People Who Take FibroSleep Say
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FibroSleep is ProHealth’s best-selling product, with a remarkably high reorder rate. Our customers have also made it one of our highest rated products. Here are just a few of the many comments we have received:
“This is the only supplement I have tried that helps me get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. I feel more restful in the morning. I have tried many over the years and this supplement is the only one that doesn’t give me headache during sleep and waking up. Love it Thank you for creating this.” – Angela
“This is by far the single most effective sleeping aid I have taken to deal with my sleep issues that fibro has created. I am now sleeping deeply all night. The changes were almost immediate and I am so thankful for the natural sleep support. The fibrofog has lifted some what and after three months of use still continue to sleep well. Thank you so much.” – Carrie
“I’ve been using FibroSleep for almost a year and I love the sleep it gives me and also helps with the ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia. It has all the good herbs and vitamins that gives me a great sleep.” – Ann
“This product is LIFESAVING for me. I recently tried to stop taking this product to try something else and within a week I was overtly fatigued, sleep walking, suffering from extreme insomnia and exhaustion to the point that I was falling asleep standing up! No lie…I restarted the product and within 72 hours all of my issues are gone and I am starting to feel like myself again!…” – Roberta
“Absolutely the best product out there. I’ve tried them all. Easy, restful slide into sleep. When there are pain flares, I sometimes take a second one around 2 – 3 am…and I am able to wake up refreshed. It is the only supplement I do not travel without.” – Diane
“I have taken this product for years. It has multiple great ingredients that help me sleep a lot better. No hangover in the morning.” – Jill
“I was looking for something natural to help me sleep and tried FibroSleep. It was the answer. I’ve been using it for years now and recommend it to family and friends. It also has 5HTP in the formula that has stopped my migraine headaches. Two problems solved with one nightly capsule. No side effects. Thank you, ProHealth.” – Helen
ProHealth uses only the highest quality herbal extracts in their FibroSleep formula.
Recommended Dosage: 1-2 capsules an hour before bedtime. There is, however, some dosage flexibility. For example, Rich Carson, who developed the product, usually takes 3 to 4 capsules each night. He recommends starting with one capsule and gradually increasing the dosage as needed up to a maximum of six capsules.
As with all sleep products, FibroSleep may become less effective over time. If this happens, stop taking it for three or four weeks. When you resume taking it, the effectiveness should return.
Contraindications and Precautions: Because FibroSleep supports deep sleep, do not drive or do anything that requires being alert after taking it.
- Pregnacy and Lactation – Consult your obstetrician if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Hops should not be used if you are pregnant.
- Antidepressants – Consult your physician if you are taking prescription antidepressants.
- Blood Thinners – Ginger stimulates circulation and should not be taken with blood thinning medications.
- Salicylates – Some herbal components including peppermint and lemon balm contribute small amounts of salicylates, so may be of concern to sensitive individuals or those on the Guaifenesin Protocol.
This article, originally published April 19, 2013, was updated on November 18, 2019.
Karen Lee Richards is ProHealth’s Editor-in-Chief. A fibromyalgia patient herself, she co-founded the nonprofit organization now known as the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) in 1997 and served as its vice-president for eight years. She was also the executive editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine. After leaving the NFA, Karen served as the Guide to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the New York Times website About.com, then worked for eight years as the Chronic Pain Health Guide for The HealthCentral Network before coming to ProHealth. To learn more about Karen, see “Meet Karen Lee Richards.
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