Are Sleep Disorders Common Among MS Patients?

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Very common, as you can imagine, if you're having urinary symptoms throughout the night you're getting up every two hours to empty your bladder you're not going to wake up in the morning refreshed. Many MS people also have spasticity, and spasticity is an increase in muscle tone especially in the lower limbs, and one of the symptoms of that is muscle jerks or even frank pain, like charlie horses.

And these things can wake people up, or even more insidiously, they can interfere with the depth of sleep much like sleep apnea, where people don't really wake up with their nocturnal arousal. They stay in light sleep all night but with these jerky movements of the legs, they may be thrust into light sleep all night long and wake up after eight hours saying what's going on?

I'm exhausted, I haven't slept. Certainly restless legs is more common in Multiple Sclerosis, and that may be a contributor to insomnia for example. We also see a condition called periodic leg movements, in MS where throughout the night there are these movements of the legs both or one leg. That again pushes the person into light sleep rather than spending time and deeper phases of sleep where you need to spend so much time to get proper rest.

So for me, as a MS physician, that's a very complicated conversation because how it usually is presented is tiredness. Doctor I'm tired. So one of their issues of course, quality of sleep. Depression that may cause sleep problems. Somebody depressed is going to complain, I can't sleep, I wake up in the morning at 4:00, and I can't fall back to sleep. I spend all my night ruminating about my problems, my issues. So, it's a very complicated discussion that goes on when we talk about sleep and fatigue, and all the ramifications that may impact on this.