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Why sleep is vital for improving fibromyalgia symptoms



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Dr Anthony Ordman, a leading UK Pain Specialist, explains why achieving proper restful sleep is so important for fibromyalgia patients and how cannabis medicines can help this happen.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body and can completely destroy the patient’s quality of life.

Many fibromyalgia patients report it is the lack of ability to sleep properly that leads to the horrible brain fog, fatigue and ensuing depression that is one of most unpleasant symptoms of the condition.

“For me it was the insomnia, that came with the pain, that then led to everything spiralling out of control in a repetitive cycle.

“You were in pain so you couldn’t sleep, which would lead to fatigue and exhaustion, which again contributes to the level of pain you are in, which leads to anxiety and depression. The symptoms of fibromyalgia are like a runaway train that you just can’t stop.” – Steven, fibromyalgia patient.

Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser and Hon. clinical director Integro Medical  Clinics.

explains why achieving proper restful sleep is so important for fibromyalgia patients and how cannabis medicines can help this happen.

“Long-term stress and resulting poor sleep can cause neuro-chemical imbalances in the central nervous system, impairing the processing of sensations.

Then sensations become mis-interpreted,  causing pain to be perceived by the brain, in the absence of actual incoming painful stimuli from the rest of the body. This results in abnormal amplification of pain signals, similar to a ‘pain volume control knob’ being turned up too high. At the same time, muscles throughout the body can become tight and go into painful spasm, adding to the pain syndrome.

“Research continues to determine the causes of fibromyalgia’s associated fatigue, non-restorative sleep, and thought and memory difficulty, but this must have to do with the fact that people with fibromyalgia often go for years without ever falling into deep, ‘stage 3 and 4’ sleep at night because of stress. This sleep abnormality may be the cause of the whole fibromyalgia syndrome in the first place.  

“Normally, in the deepest stages of healthy sleep, the body undergoes deep muscle relaxation, and our brain stores the memories of the previous day while, at the same time, toxins are flushed out of the brain’s nerve cells.

“But if deep sleep doesn’t happen, night after night, then it’s not difficult to see that tight, painful muscles and brain-fog may occur, along with changes such as the spinal cord neuro-chemical imbalances already mentioned. 

Potentially adding to this problem; if you treat insomnia and its ensuing anxiety with drugs like Zopiclone or other benzodiazepines, this doesn’t improve deep sleep, only sleep duration.  Those drugs can end up causing the patient all sorts of problems, adding to brain-fog, and dependency. 

There is no one conventional medicine to treat Fibromyalgia. Nerve pain medicines and anti-depressant medicines are often tried.  These sometimes do help, but more often add their own side effects to the patient’s difficulties.

Most conventional pain medicines such as morphine, amitriptyline and gabapentin/pregabalin, which are available for long-term pain, do not really work effectively for pain in the body’s spinal cord and central nervous system. 

By contrast, cannabis medicines have their main effect there.  And, as I am now seeing, cannabis medicines can offer effective treatment for fibromyalgia, as they seem to re-balance and regulate the human body’s endocannabinoid system, to reduce pain and spasm, and restore more normal sleep patterns.”

“For me the massive change was being able to get a decent night’s sleep. Once you can sleep it allows you to recover and this in turn helps your mood and motivation. Cannabis medicines have allowed me to function on an absolute minimum of traditional pain medications.”  –  Debbie, fibromyalgia patient 

Dr Ordman added: “Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommend remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition while using cannabis-based medicines. The Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”

If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics:  



Twitter: @clinicsintegro

For support groups and charities please visit:

UK Fibromyalgia

National Fibromyalgia Association 

National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association


Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health.Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained.She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa.Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag