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Using Your Senses to Better Sleep and Reduced Pain in Fibromyalgia

Combining senses such as sight, smell, and touch it is possible to greatly reduce the pain and symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

One of the biggest complaints that those with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) mention is an inability to get a good night’s sleep. Both the quality and quantity of sleep can be affected and they can awaken in the morning feeling just as tired, if not more than when they “tried” to sleep. If pain and depression often accompany sleep problems in FMS, adding aromatherapy and music to your nighttime sleep regimen at night could be considered. It is very likely that the two together may be more beneficial than using either modality separately.

The essential oils, especially lavender oil, have been studied suggests that essential oils have many benefits including reducing pain and helping to achieve a better night’s sleep. Lavender oil also has anti-inflammatory properties. The use of the essential oils in promoting the quality of sleep has demonstrated success in research of  hospitalized patients.

In one study, approximately seventy women aged 45-55 with insomnia were randomized into two groups – one that received lavender therapy and one that did not. The women in this trial who received inhalations of lavender twice per week reported a significant increase in sleep quality. Lavender aromatherapy was also found to have a positive effect on decreasing the heart rate after one month and three months of therapy. Why is this important? Because the hallmark of a good night’s sleep is that the body “slows down,” including a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure.

In another study whose focus was examining the effect of music on pain in those with fibromyalgia, it was found that those who listened to music once a day for four weeks in total reported a significant decrease in pain and depression when compared to those who did not.

While each therapy separately demonstrated a positive benefit, another study showed that  the combination of music therapy and aromatherapy in addition to touch therapy, was beneficial in helping patients get a good night’s sleep

What can we draw from this information? Well, if you have fibromyalgia, understand that you will likely need a multifaceted approach to help you achieve a good night’s sleep. This combination approach is likely to be more successful than an individual therapy alone. It may include listening to soothing music before and while you are sleeping, permeating your room with the relaxing aroma of lavender oil, feeling the endearing touch a loved one. This is saying that the treatment of fibromyalgia involves the use of all of our senses. We need to pay attention to all of them in order to promote successful healing.

By: Dr. Rich Snyder, DO


  • Chien LW, Cheng SL et al. “The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomnia.” Evidence Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012:740813.
  • Demirbag B, Erci B. “The effects of sleep and touch therapy on symptoms of fibromyalgia and depression.” Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2012;41(11):44-53.
  • Huang MY, Liao MH et al. “Effect of lavender essential oil on LPS-stimulated inflammation.” 2012;40(4):845-59
  • Onieva-Zafra MD, Castro-Sanchez AM et al. “Effect of music as nursing intervention for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.” Pain Management Nursing. 2013 Jun;14(2):e39-46.

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