It doesn’t matter what you do; whether you are a kindergarten teacher, a pharmacist, a construction worker or a lawyer, some days are just harder to get through than others. However, if you suffer from fibromyalgia, and more specifically, fibromyalgia fog, then these days can happen a lot more frequently than you’d like.
Sometimes the feeling can be relatively non-intrusive; you will have difficulty finding the right words, perhaps misplacing things, or overlook a certain detail, regardless of the specifics, when you add them up, fibromyalgia fog can put a big damper on not only your quality of work but your quality of life.
Fibro fog is the term used to describe the cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia. According to a 2015 review in Rheumatology International, some fibromyalgia patients reported that fibro fog is even more difficult to manage than their pain and fatigue.
According to a report in Arthritis Care and Research, at least half fibromyalgia patients “experience distressing subjective cognitive impairment.”
Among the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, fog is short term memory loss, distraction, forgetfulness, difficulty carrying on a conversation, inability to process new information, along with the occasional bout of disorientation. In most cases, this fog is a mild symptom, but for some suffers, it can be quite scary, especially if your standard is one of functioning at a high level.
This; however, begs the question – what causes it?
Sadly, the reasons behind fibromyalgia fog are not too well understood, but some doctors speculate that it can be attributed to the patient’s inability to get restorative sleep.
“Therefore they’re chronically fatigued,” says Corey Walker, MD, a rheumatologist at the Intermountain Health Care System in Logan, Utah. “Their minds aren’t rested.”
Non-restorative sleep is easily the number-one sleep issue, and among the top overall issues associated with fibromyalgia patients. Up to 90% of fibromyalgia patients experience non-restorative sleep, according to a 2016 report in the Journal of Pain and Relief by researchers at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, Italy.
“A large percentage of FM patients report sleep disturbance, including difficulties in falling or staying asleep, early morning awakenings and non-restorative sleep,” says Maurizio Rizzi, MD, and colleagues. The researchers conclude managing sleep disorders could actually reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, including fibro fog.
So how does one cope with it?
While it is easier said than done in many cases, getting quality sleep is the biggest reason for the fog setting in in the first place. And while that might seem difficult to accomplish, there are some things you can do to help aid in the process. Staying active with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding caffeine (especially late at night) and sticking to a regular routine are all proven to help mitigate the effects and help ensure you get the most restorative sleep possible.