Sleeping Disorders and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Numerous people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience sleeping disorders, including insomnia. Insomnia may include difficulty falling asleep, waking up sometime during the night and staying awake, or frequent nighttime waking. Most of the time, the trouble is not the MS itself, but instead, secondary symptoms that contribute to the lack of sleep.

Some medications can interfere with sleep, including a few disease-modifying drugs or medicines that treat MS symptoms, either directly or indirectly.

For example, steroids and prescribed stimulants can cause insomnia. Side effects of MS, including bowel and bladder control, overheating, and reduced physical activity, can hinder a good night’s sleep. Insomnia may worsen other MS-related ailments such as fatigue, memory problems, depression, or pain. Prolonged insomnia can disrupt the quality of life. If you experience sleeping problems, you should discuss it with your health care team and talk about the difficulties you are having, so you can get the help you need. For example, if you suffer from the restless legs syndrome (RLS) that prevents you from sleeping at night, your doctor might be able to treat the RLS and, consequently, insomnia. If the insomnia is due to stress and anxiety, behavioral techniques or relaxation therapies can be useful. Medications may help alleviate insomnia, but sleeping pills are not a valid long-term treatment. Some Belong users that discussed this issue recommend remedies that worked for them. They include regulating the room temperature to your liking or experimenting with aromatherapy such as lavender oil. Other suggestions include avoiding drinking before bedtime and making sure to empty your bladder before getting into bed. Some recommended relaxation techniques before bed and sticking to a sleep schedule of the same nighttime and wake up time every day. Others propose physical activity throughout the day, preferably during the daytime, to soak some vitamin D and not to do it too close to bedtime.