It’s very common to have trouble sleeping when you have MS. More than 50% of people with Multiple Sclerosis indicate problems getting needed sleep. Both MS symptoms and MS medications may contribute to poor sleep, and poor sleep can make your MS symptoms worse. The Aposave team provides some tips how you find better sleep with MS and suggest some good sleeping habits.
How MS Affects Sleep
Typical symptoms like pain and muscle spasm are obvious challenges for a good night’s sleep combined with MS medications that might be interfering, as well. Possible MS symptoms of depression and anxiety can have an influence too. Another factor could be lack of exercise. Usually, exercise promotes good sleep, so if you aren’t getting enough exercise because of MS fatigue or poor coordination it is likely to affect your rest at night.
Here are some of specific sleep disorders linked to MS:
- Insomnia, which is trouble falling or staying asleep
- Sleep apnea, which is sleep that's repeatedly interrupted by brief periods of not breathing
- Narcolepsy, which is falling asleep during the day
- Restless legs syndrome, which is the need to move your legs, especially at night
- Periodic limb movement disorder, which is involuntary arm and leg movement during sleep
How Poor Sleep Affects MS
According to a study by Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues published in The Journal of Neuroscience, brain cells responsible for maintaining the protective covering of nerve fibers do most of their work during periods of deep sleep. This covering, called myelin, is one of the primary areas of the central nervous system affected by MS. Loss of myelin is one of the main causes of MS symptoms.
MS symptoms that are affected by poor sleep:
- Mental confusion
- Balance problems
Tips for Better Sleep with MS
A good start would be to check with your doctor about any medications that might be interfering with your sleep. Further, we recommend you to develop good sleep habits which you should stick to. Here are some examples:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time, even on weekends. Having regular hours of sleep helps you keep your sleep-wake cycle regular.
- Get fresh air and sunshine every day to set your biological clock.
- Exercise every day, but avoid heavy exercise for several hours before bed.
- Avoid long naps and long periods of inactivity during the day.
- Avoid stimulants like sugar, caffeine, and nicotine, especially later in the day.
- Don't eat heavy meals in the hours before bedtime.
- Use the hour before bed to clear your mind and start your bedtime routine. Don’t use a computer or watch TV for at least an hour before you want to sleep.
- Don’t drink alcohol to fall asleep. If you do, you'll be likely to wake up after a few hours.
- Avoid drinking lots of fluids before bed, and go to the bathroom just before going to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortable.
- Don’t lie awake at night. If you can't fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing for a while, and then return to bed.