12 things your MS health team want to know about your sleep

Sleep, or lack of it, is a common topic amongst people with MS. It's no secret how important sleep is to our overall health and wellbeing but sometimes MS can make it difficult.

Despite knowing how important it is, and how awful sleep problems can be, often it's not on our list of symptoms to talk to MS specialists about.

There are lots of reasons for this, but the most important thing to know is that your health team can help you. But first, they need to know what problems you're having, and what's worrying you.

We spoke to sleep expert Catherine Siengsukon and she advises:

"The first step to address your sleep concerns is to prepare and have an informed conversation with your doctor."

You can prepare by monitoring your sleep for a month and make notes to answer the following 12 questions.

In the past month...

  1. How long, on average, has it taken you to fall asleep?
  2. How many hours of sleep, on average, did you get per night
  3. How many times, on average, did you wake up per night?
  4. How many minutes per night, on average, did you spend in bed awake, unable to fall back asleep?
  5. How rested, on average, did you feel upon waking in the morning?
  6. How often, on average, did you take naps during the day?
  7. How often did pain interfere with your sleep?
  8. How often did spasticity or restless legs/ limbs/body interfere with your sleep?
  9. How often did urinary or bowel symptoms interfere with your sleep?
  10. How often did you take medication (prescription or over-the-counter) to help with sleep?
  11. How often did you snore or experience shortness of breath upon waking?
  12. How difficult was it to maintain alertness and energy during the day?

Catherine also advised:

"Your doctor may ask you additional questions about your sleep issues, review your medications, and conduct a thorough medical evaluation. Your doctor may recommend that you undergo an overnight sleep study in your home or in a laboratory, if warranted. "

"Depending on the type of sleep problems you are having, you may benefit from working with different healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, neurologists, sleep medicine specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists."

If you want more advice on sleep you can read Catherine's full guide "Practical sleep information for people with MS"

If you're interested in tracking your sleep you can do this in Emilyn. You can record detailed notes after your check in and export them as a PDF to take with you to your next appointment.