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Am J Med. 1993 May;94(5):505-8.

Sleep apnea in male patients with the fibromyalgia syndrome.

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Department of Rheumatology, Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, Colorado 80045-5001.



Fibromyalgia is a common pain syndrome that is often associated with sleep disturbances. The most characteristic pattern noted on formal sleep study is alpha-wave intrusion on delta-wave sleep. This nonrestorative sleep pattern may be endogenous, or caused by any of a number of sleep disturbances. Our goal was to determine the frequency of sleep apnea and its relationship to a nonrestorative sleep pattern in our patients with fibromyalgia syndrome.


All new fibromyalgia patients seen in the Rheumatology Clinic at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center were screened using history and physical examination for suspicion of sleep apnea. When this condition was suspected, the patients underwent formal polysomnography to delineate any sleep disturbance.


Four of 92 women, and 13 of 25 men with the new diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome underwent polysomnography. Of the women, 2.2% (2 of 92) had significant sleep apnea at formal evaluation; both were obese and had obstructive findings. In contrast, 44% (11 of 25) of the men had significant sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea is not a significant cause of fibromyalgia symptoms in females. In male patients with fibromyalgia, sleep apnea was observed in a large percentage. Fibromyalgia may be a marker for occult sleep apnea in males.

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