Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia in diagnosed sleep disorders: A further test of the 'unitary' hypothesis

Slobodanka Pejovic, Benjamin H. Natelson, Maria Basta, Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Fauzia Mahr, Alexandros N. Vgontzas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Since chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) often co-exist, some believe they reflect the same process, somatization. Against that hypothesis are data suggesting FM but not CFS was common in patients with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). The presence of discrete case definitions for CFS and FM allowed us to explore rates of CFS alone, CFS with FM, and FM alone in SDB patients compared to those with sleep complaints that fulfilled criteria for insomnia. Methods: Participants were 175 sequential patients with sleep-related symptoms (122 had SDB and 21 had insomnia) and 39 healthy controls. Diagnoses were made by questionnaires, tender point count, and rule out labs; sleepiness was assessed with Epworth Sleepiness Scale and mood with Beck Depression Inventory. Results: Rates of CFS, FM or CFS + FM were high: 13% in SDB and 48% in insomnia. CFS occurred frequently in SDB and insomnia, but FM occurred frequently only in insomnia. SDB patients with CFS and/or FM had higher daytime sleepiness than those without these disorders. Conclusion: CFS patients should complete Epworth scales, and sleep evaluation should be considered for those with scores ≥ 16 before receiving the diagnosis of CFS; the coexistence of depressed mood in these patients suggests some may be helped by treatment of their depression. That FM was underrepresented in SDB suggests FM and CFS may have different underlying pathophysiological causes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number53
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 12 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


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