How MS affects sleep

If you have MS, you might find that some of your symptoms make sleeping difficult. Read on for more information about how multiple sclerosis affects sleep, and find ways to make sleeping easier.

Sleep problems are common with MS and may affect sleep up to several nights a week. Sleep problems may include waking up every hour and lying awake hoping for sleep. When morning arrives, some people with MS will find that they haven't slept one single "z's" worth! Some people with MS have trouble sleeping because of headaches, a stiff neck, and the nighttime sudden body movements that make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult.

Other sleep-disrupting symptoms specific to people with MS include painful muscle spasms, the need to urinate frequently at night, and involuntary twitching called periodic limb movements.

Some people with MS also have difficulty swallowing during sleep or experience brief, temporary periods of not breathing during sleep, a condition known as sleep apnea. This condition is sometimes accompanied by gasping, choking, or violent snoring.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Quality-Sleep

Tips for sound sleep

Improving sleeping habits will help you find ways towards a good night's sleep.

To improve your sleeping habits, consider the following suggestions:

  • Drink coffee, tea or caffeinated beverages in the morning only.
  • Enjoy mild exercise early enough in the evening just so that you're sufficiently tired for sleep, but not experiencing the "adrenalin exercise high" associated with exercise.
  • Try deep-breathing relaxation exercises or listen to soothing music before your bedtime.
  • Keep a regular time for going to bed and waking up, and make consistent bedtime routines for yourself. For example, have a cup of chamomile tea before bed.
  • Practice repetitive mental exercises (the tried-and-true "counting sheep" trick) or repeating a phrase that you find comforting.
  • Relax yourself with visualizations – picture yourself in a quiet forest, sitting in front of the ocean, or resting on a hammock.
  • Adjust your room temperature to a level most comfortable for you.

If you still can't sleep after about 10 minutes of trying, don't let frustration take over. Try getting out of bed and doing something quiet and relaxing such as reading or sitting your favorite chair listening to gentle music.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Quality-Sleep

What about sleeping medications or naps?

Most doctors tell people with MS not to rely on sleep medications, though some physicians do prescribe them for short-term use. Keep in mind that sleeping medications can eventually become ineffective and sleep-disrupting if overused, and they may interact with other medications.

What about napping? Long daytime naps may also interfere with nighttime sleep. But if you are constantly tired during the day because you can't sleep at night, give yourself a short resting period during the day. To rejuvenate yourself, try the following technique: sit comfortably or lie down, close your eyes, clear your mind, and be still for about 15 minutes. This might be just the pick-up for you, body and mind!

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Quality-Sleep

When periodic limb movements during sleep affect you

Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS), such as bending at the hips or knees or kicking, can sometimes suddenly awaken people with MS. Other times, the symptoms of PLMS are not so obvious. They can occur as a tiny bending or flexing of a toe, and the person might not notice the sleep disruption. Sometimes muscle spasms or the need to urinate frequently at night can also interrupt sleep.

If you have a spouse or partner, and suspect that PLMS or muscle spasms are disrupting your sleep, try asking the person who shares your bedroom if any movements were noticed. Bed-mates are often aware of nighttime disturbances, which can affect both people during the night.

If you are concerned about PLMS, talk to your doctor or specialist – there are effective treatments available.

To learn more
Sleep specialists – psychiatrists, psychologists, and neurologists who specialize in sleep disorders – can offer you further resources and support. If your MS symptoms are fairly under control, and self-help hasn't worked, ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Quality-Sleep