OBJECTIVE - The hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia (FM) is widespread chronic pain, but most patients are also impaired due to fatigue and sleep disturbance, and there is a strong association with depression. We compared levels of activity and sleep patterns in FM patients, with and without comorbid depression, to those of normal healthy controls and depressed patients.
METHODS - Actigraphy was carried out on 16 patients with uncomplicated FM, 6 FM patients with comorbid depression, 9 patients with recurrent major depression, and 28 healthy controls over a period of 5-7 days. The means of daytime activity levels, nighttime activity levels, and percentage time spent asleep during the daytime and nighttime were calculated and compared.
RESULTS - Controls showed high levels of activity during the day and uninterrupted periods of sleep at night. Patients with FM alone showed similar levels of daytime activity, but disturbed sleep with significantly increased levels of activity at night compared to normal controls. Patients with depression alone also showed disturbed sleep compared to normal controls. However, patients with FM and comorbid depression showed the most impairment, with significantly reduced daytime activity and significantly increased daytime sleeping compared to controls, as well as more sleep interruption and movement during the night.
CONCLUSION - Actigraphy is a useful means of studying activity levels and sleep patterns and demonstrated significant differences between FM patients with and without comorbid depression.