All of the studies say eight hours is optimal for adults. A recent study says 7 is plenty. But all too often, Multiple Sclerosis is the “thief in the night” that steals sleep and leaves us even more tired than the fatigue that we’re often gifted with this disease.
I hear it all the time: “I’m so tired I can’t drag myself to do more than walk from one seat to another all day. Then I go to bed and cannot sleep.” It’s sooooo frustrating. And it continues to feed that same cycle. Tired, can’t sleep. More tired, still can’t sleep. So tired I can’t function, still unable to sleep. Get pills from doc to sleep. Take pills. Sleep (sometimes). Feel even more cog fog than usual.
Personally, I’m typically fine unless something wakes me. Whether it be a child or a pain (sometimes one in the same!!), once awakened, I’m done for the night. I’ll lay there as long as I can stand it – until I realize that I’m telling myself to relax and go to sleep and and my shoulders are up around my ears and I’m squeezing my eyes shut!
What To Do
So – what do you do when you have trouble sleeping? The first step should really be to identify the cause, if possible. So – are you waking up to go to the bathroom? Because of spasticity? Are you stressed about something (we have MS – yep, we’re stressed alright!!)? Are you depressed (again, we have MS – you do the math)? Inactivity? If you can identify what the issue is – you can begin to address it. For instance, if you’re having to go to the bathroom several times each night – there’s a good chance that our old friend UTI is in town. Call your doctor and get on the meds immediately. Give the UTI a ticket out of town and hopefully your sleep will return. BTW – I’ve noticed a huge drop in UTI recurrence since I started drinking cranberry juice. It really reduces the recurrence. Worth a try, right? Spasticity? I have a heated mattress padthat I turn on for those nights that I’m all “bunged up”. I know that this is counter-intuitive since heat is not our friend – but this truly helps my spasticity calm down and allows me to get some sleep (sometimes). There are also medications and alternative therapies – think massage and essential oils. Stressed? Well now – that one’s a bit tougher. Is there something going on in your life that you can address during the day to help reduce or eliminate your stress at night? Is the stress the fact that you have MS and you’re concerned about that? Well – denial is a beautiful thing and has worked wonders for me!! Alternatively, see a therapist. It really does help. Just saying things out loud that concern us – unburdens the mind and may be enough to allow you to get some rest. And – the therapist may have some solid suggestions that can help address some real life issues that will, in turn, alleviate the stress and let you get some sleep. Additionally, here’s a book that I’ve heard good things about. I haven’t read it, but if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts: Quiet Your Mind and Get to Sleep: Solutions to Insomnia for Those with Depression, Anxiety or Chronic Pain (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook).
Sleep is important to every one – even more so if you’re battling a disease like MS. Don’t just ignore the problem – identify it and deal with it – get help if you need it. Getting the right amount of sleep can make a huge difference in another of the most common co-morbidities in multiple sclerosis – depression. When we sleep, chemicals and hormones are excreted in our brain that actually do a lot to maintain brain health and provide mental clarity. So – darken your room, go to bed at the same time every night, go through a routine that will signal to your body it’s time to wind down, NO SCREEN TIME an hour before bed and utilize the suggestions found in this article.
Do you have any tips and tricks to offer your fellow FUMS’ers? Please – leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for sharing.
Sometimes it helps the stress, just to say F-U-M-S!!