OBJECTIVE: To measure the presence of the alpha-sleep anomaly in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) and to evaluate the association between the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern and the presence of musculoskeletal pain. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Sleep laboratory. SUBJECTS: Fifty-five consecutive adult FSHD patients, 26 women and 29 men, age 49.6 ± 15.1 years (range 18-76). INTERVENTIONS: Questionnaires and polysomnography. OUTCOME MEASURES: Patients were asked to indicate if in the 3 months before the sleep study they presented persisting or recurring musculoskeletal pain. Patients who reported pain were asked to fill in the Italian version of the Brief Pain Inventory and the McGill Pain questionnaire, and a 101-point visual analog scale (VAS) for pain intensity. Polysomnographic recordings were performed. EEG was analyzed by means of Fast Fourier Transform. Four power spectra bands (δ 0-4 Hz, θ 4-8 Hz, α 8-14 Hz, β 14-32 Hz) were computed. Sleep macrostructure parameters and alpha/delta EEG power ratio during non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep were compared between patients with and without pain. RESULTS: Forty-two patients in our sample reported chronic pain. VAS mean score was 55.2 ± 23.8 (range 10-100), pain rating index score was 13.8 ± 10.2, and present pain intensity was 2.5 ± 0.8. The statistical analysis documented an increased occurrence of the alpha and beta rhythms during NREM sleep in FSHD patients with pain. Significant correlations were observed between the alpha/delta power ratio during NREM sleep and pain measures. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic musculoskeletal pain is frequent in FSHD patients, and it represents a major mechanism of sleep disruption.