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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Department of Neurology
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How Does MS Affect Your Sleep?

By Calie Wyatt

Fatigue is one of the most common and frustrating symptoms that comes along with multiple sclerosis. In MS there is both fatigue and what is known as lassitude.  While fatigue can itself feel debilitating, lassitude is the more severe type of MS fatigue. Lassitude is defined as, “A state of physical or mental weariness; lack of energy.” gives several examples of lassitude and how it is different from the type of fatigue experienced by people without MS. Here are the examples of lassitude and how it affects us that they have listed:

  • Generally occurs on a daily basis
  • May occur in the morning, even after a restful night’s sleep
  • Tends to worsen as the day progresses
  • Is often aggravated by heat or humidity
  • Comes on easily and suddenly
  • Is generally more severe than common fatigue
  • Is more likely to interfere with daily responsibilities

My biggest symptom and largest hurdle with MS is my fatigue, and sometimes lassitude. It has always baffled me how I can be so incredibly tired all day long, and as soon as I climb into bed my mind won’t shut off enough to let my body rest. I have had trouble sleeping for as long as I can remember. Cue the counting sheep-in fact, many nights I have to count as high as I can until I finally drift off. Many things can affect your ability to sleep, but side effects from medication and stress were once my biggest issues. I no longer have issues sleeping because of those things, but it is still extremely difficult for me to close my eyes and fall asleep like any other person. I often have to take an over the counter sleep medication just to fall asleep, otherwise it will take me hours trying to do it on my own. I have heard from several doctors that MS and insomnia are not directly related. However many MS symptoms, such as spasticity, frequent trips to the bathroom, temperature dysregulation (hello, hot flashes) and medications can most certainly disturb your sleep. It is also noted that damage to our key neurological functions can disrupt our basic physiological processes, including maintenance of regular sleep-wake cycles.

Sleep is crucial in order for me to function daily. In college I tried the staying up late and surviving on as little sleep as possible, but honestly that just wasn’t for me. Today, I make sure to get in bed at a decent hour so that I can get at least a good eight hours in. But, it seems that no matter how much good sleep I do get, some mornings I wake up and feel as though I have not slept at all. Some days it seems that no matter how much actual sleep and rest I do get, that my body and mind are just never fully rested. This can be so frustrating, because you feel as if you need to get up and start the day, get things done, etc. but your body is so tired it won’t let you. Sometimes, when I wake up feeling so fatigued I feel as though I just wasted time sleeping, while I could have gotten things done–because when I do wake up it feels like the sleep didn’t do me any good after all. And, then on the days I am unable to get adequate sleep I can become so tired that I almost feel hung-over. My body will feel sick and my head will ache as if I’ve spent the entire night on a drinking binge, when in all actuality I haven’t. Oh, and then there are the times that I do get adequate sleep, but because of my bizarre dreams I wake up feeling spent.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MULTIPLESCLEROSIS.NET
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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