Poor sleep: A new symptom of MS?

Poor sleep
Poor sleep

New research from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research has found that poor sleep may be an independent symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). It suggests that improving sleep quality may substan­tially improve quality of life in people living with MS.

In this study, performed as part of the Australian MS Longitudinal Study (AMSLS), a national collab­orative research platform of MS Australia, researchers examined how sleep related to 13 common MS symp­toms. The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychi­atry, aimed to determine whether sleep affected health-related quality of life, independent of these common symptoms.

Dr Laura Laslett, epidemi­ologist and study author said, “Sleep difficulties are common in the communi­ty, but we found that they are even more common in people with MS (33-45% vs about 65%).”

Analysis of responses from 1,717 AMSLS participants showed that people with MS who were younger, overweight or obese, those with higher disability levels, those who had a relapse in the last 12 months, and those who reported having higher levels of some MS symptoms (including fa­tigue and cognitive symp­toms, feelings of anxiety and depression and pain and sensory symptoms) re­ported a lower sleep quality after accounting for other factors.

Conversely, when the researchers looked at edu­cation levels, people with MS who had completed a University degree were less likely to report poor sleep in this study.

“Interestingly, sleep dys­function stood out as being substantially associated with health-related quality of life independent of other symptoms of multiple scle­rosis,” said Dr Laslett.

Rohan Greenland, CEO of MS Australia said, “We can all benefit from a good night’s sleep. But these findings clearly demonstrate that sleep quality has a clinically important impact on people living with MS.”

“The next step is to test interventions and treat­ments for sleep dysfunction in people with MS, with the aim of reducing symptom severity and improving health-related quality of life,” he said.

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