Effects of selective slow wave sleep disruption on musculoskeletal pain & fatigue in middle aged women – fibromyalgia related research

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether disrupted slow wave sleep

(SWS) would evoke musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and an alpha

electroencephalograph (EEG) sleep pattern. We selectively

deprived 12 healthy, middle aged, sedentary women without

muscle discomfort of SWS for 3 consecutive nights. Effects

were assessed for the following measures: polysomnographic

sleep, musculoskeletal tender point pain threshold, skinfold

tenderness, reactive hyperemia (inflammatory flare response),

somatic symptoms, and mood state.

METHODS: Sleep was recorded

and scored using standard methods. On selective SWS

deprivation (SWSD) nights, when delta waves (indicative of

SWS) were detected on EEG, a computer generated tone (maximum

85 decibels) was delivered until delta waves disappeared.

Musculoskeletal tender points were measured by dolorimetry;

skinfold tenderness was assessed by skin roll procedure; and

reactive hyperemia was assessed with a cotton swab test.

Subjects completed questionnaires on bodily feelings,

symptoms, and mood.

RESULTS: On each SWSD night, SWS was

decreased significantly with minimal alterations in total

sleep time, sleep efficiency, and other sleep stages. Subjects

showed a 24% decrease in musculoskeletal pain threshold after

the third SWSD night. They also reported increased discomfort,

tiredness, fatigue, and reduced vigor. The flare response

(area of vasodilatation) in skin was greater than baseline

after the first, and again, after the third SWSD night.

However, the automated program for SWSD did not evoke an alpha

EEG sleep pattern.

CONCLUSION: Disrupting SWS, without

reducing total sleep or sleep efficiency, for several

consecutive nights is associated with decreased pain

threshold, increased discomfort, fatigue, and the inflammatory

flare response in skin. These results suggest that disrupted

sleep is probably an important factor in the pathophysiology

of symptoms in fibromyalgia.

Lentz MJ, Landis CA, Rothermel J, Shaver JL

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