Sleep, Psychological Distress, and Stress Arousal in Women with Fibromyalgia

Joan L.F. Shaver, Martha Lentz, Carol A. Landis, Margaret M. Heitkemper, Dedra S. Buchwald, Nancy F. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The purpose of this investigation was to compare self-reported sleep quality and psychological distress, as well as somnographic sleep and physiological stress arousal, in women recruited from the community with self-reported medically diagnosed fibromyalgia (FM) to women without somatic symptoms. Eleven midlife women with FM, when compared to 11 asymptomatic women, reported poorer sleep quality and higher SCL-90 psychological distress scores. Women with FM also had more early night transitional sleep (stage 1) (p < 0.01), more sleep stage changes (p < 0.03) and a higher sleep fragmentation index (p < 0.03), but did not differ in α-EEG-NREM activity (a marker believed to accompany FM). No physiological stress arousal differences were evident. Less stable sleep in the early night supports a postulate that nighttime hormone (e.g., growth hormone) disturbance is an eitiologic factor but, contrary to several literature assertions, α-EEG-NREM activity sleep does not appear to be a specific marker of FM. Further study of mechanisms is needed to guide treatment options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-257
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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