If you’re losing sleep over multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re not alone. People with MS may be up to 3 times more likely to have trouble sleeping, and twice as likely to have lower-quality sleep, than the average person. In one large survey study, 70% of people with MS reported having at least 1 sleep disorder, but less than 12% had received a diagnosis of, or treatment for, a sleep disorder.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Everybody needs high-quality sleep, especially people with MS. Lack of good deep sleep can affect other symptoms of MS, including cognition, fatigue, mood swings, balance, pain, and spasticity. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may not be getting enough good sleep.
- Do you feel sleepy, low, or irritable during the day?
- Do you fall asleep as soon as you’re in bed?
- Do you sleep fewer than 7 hours a night?
- Are you tired after sleeping 8 hours or more?
People with MS are less likely to get deep sleep
There are many reasons why people with MS have trouble sleeping. MS can contribute to stress, anxiety, or depression, which takes a toll on sleep. Fatigue can lead to increased daytime napping and reduced physical activity, which may make it harder to sleep. MS can also interrupt the body’s hormones, physiological processes, and neurotransmitters, leading to sleep apnea, narcolepsy, fatigue, inefficient sleep, and other sleep disorders. Lack of vitamin D and other nutrients may also contribute to problems sleeping.
Ways to deal with lack of sleep
There are a number of good habits that can help you get more sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every night and day can help you set your biological clock. It’s important to maintain your schedule on the weekend and sleep in no more than 1 hour later. Limiting caffeine to the morning and exercising 4 to 6 hours before you go to bed can also help. When you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, it’s best to get out of bed and relax with some light reading.