Sleeping Comfortably With Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

When you’ve got fibromyalgia (FMS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), refreshing sleep is likely a rare commodity. It’s important for us to sleep as well as we can, and paying close attention to your sleeping environment may help.

We have a lot of symptoms that can make sleep difficult, above and beyond any sleep disorders or abnormalities we have. Here, you’ll find some ideas that could help you sleep better.

Woman and dog sleeping in bed
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Choosing a Mattress

The wrong mattress can increase your pain and have a major impact on how well you sleep. Several types of mattress are on the market, so the next time you’re shopping for one, it pays to find the one that’s going to work best for you.

In a poll on this site, 43% of people who responded said they hadn’t found one that worked well for them.

Of the people who had found a mattress they liked, by far the most popular was memory foam. The benefit is that it provides support but doesn’t put pressure on your body.

However, in blog comments, some people said the chemical smell memory foam gives off when its new was too much for them, so if you choose memory foam, you may want to let it gas out for several days in another room.

Memory foam can also be extremely expensive, especially if you buy a name brand.

Sleep Number air-filled beds are another popular choice. The bladders can also have a plastic smell that may take some time to go away. The adjustability of these beds is a plus for a lot of people. They have a separate air bladder for each side, so your side can be firmer or softer than your significant other’s.

A feature some people have a problem with, though, is that it’s difficult to lay in the center of the bed, where the two bladders come together. That division, combined with the fact that more weight on one spot changes the firmness of the mattress, may make intimacy awkward.

Sleep Number beds are generally a bit more expensive than traditional inner-spring mattresses.

Inner-springs didn’t do well in the poll, but those with a pillow top or memory-foam topper were more popular.

Pillow Talk

Your pillow can make a big difference in how comfortable you are in bed, especially if you’re prone to pain in the neck and shoulders. A lot of different kinds are available.

Some people find extra comfort with a body pillow, or a standard pillow tucked between their knees.

The Right Sheets

For those who are sensitive to textures, the wrong sheets can mean a lot of discomfort.

Several factors can determine the feel of a sheet, including thread count, quality of the fabric, and the type of fabric. Different fabric types include:

  • Cotton
  • Flannel
  • Fleece
  • Silk
  • Satin
  • Microfiber

If you have temperature-regulation issues or hot flashes, you may want to consider temperature-control sheets.

A lot of people with FMS say that sheet wrinkles underneath them can be uncomfortable or even quite painful. You may want to find sheet straps, which keep the corners on the mattress and help prevent wrinkling and bunching. Also make sure you get the right sheets for your mattress, such as deep-pocket sheets for an especially thick mattress.

Picking Out PJs

Just like bunching sheets, pajamas can cause pain and discomfort if they wrinkle up underneath you or get awkwardly wrapped around your body. Separates, such as a shirt and shorts/pants, may help lessen these problems.

Many people with FMS and ME/CFS opt-out of pajamas. Those who do wear them generally pay a lot of attention to the feel of the fabric and whether they put pressure on or rub sensitive areas.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Borchers AT, Gershwin ME. Fibromyalgia: a critical and comprehensive review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2015;49(2):100-51. doi:10.1007/s12016-015-8509-4

  2. Harvard Medical School. Say "good night" to neck pain.

By Adrienne Dellwo
Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.