My Sleep is Disturbed
For someone who goes to sleep each night and wakes up feeling refreshed I can understand how it could seem inconceivable when they hear about someone who is always tired, no not just tired fatigued. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis, and it is also one of the most difficult to explain.
When its at its best, I liken it to having a bad cold and just wanting to close my eyes and get some rest. At its worse it’s the equivalent of pulling an all nighter and then running a marathon, or having the flu. A full body tired, where things start to ache and no matter how hard you try the urge to sleep is just so overwhelming you find your eyes closing involuntarily.
Here is another interesting fact. Having a good night’s rest, is just not possible for someone with MS related fatigue (and I’m sure this is true for other conditions as well.) For where there is fatigue there is also MS related sleep disturbance. You see when I lay down and finally get comfortable, which often can be part of the issue and drift off to sleep, our brains never hit deep sleep. No the miss firing signals and electric pulses running through our bodies, don’t stop!
So what does sleep disturbances look like? For me they present in a number of ways:
Restless Legs: This little phenomenon means that while I am trying to get a blissful night’s sleep, my brain is sending signals down to my legs and making them twitch, jolt, and sometimes just full on kick! There are times that I am aware of this happening, because the movement is so much that it wakes me fully, other times it just brings me to the surface and disturbs the sleep pattern.
Insomnia: Now these are the nights when I wake up after being asleep for 3 hours and then lie there for another 2-3 unable for the life of me to go back to sleep. While my eyes are open I feel so tired, and then the minute I close them I’m awake! My brain in these moments is so mixed up it doesn’t know what my eyelids are doing!
Incontinence: Best case scenario is that I only need to get up and go to the toilet once during the night, worst case scenario is three times! Each time returning to bed, to start the going to sleep routine all over again.
Add into these the general pain, pins and needles, temperature intolerance and you can see that I may have my eyes closed, and my brain is pretending to be asleep, though there is a party going on in my body! Now add all these things together on the one night, (and yes it has happened) and you are talking one wild night of broken sleep, which sometimes ends with me throwing my hands into the air and getting up and watching bad TV.
Yes, there are medications, potions and tonics that I can take to relieve these symptoms. Though some of these come with a list of side effects which often cause some of the other symptoms that disturb our sleep. I have tried relaxation techniques, meditations, and these stop working the moment my brain drifts off and I enter light sleep.
A person with fatigue would like nothing more (other than a cure) to fall asleep at night and get a restful nights sleep and wake up the next day, and feel wonderfully refreshed! Though this just isn’t going to happen!
I do my best to get enough sleep to function as well as I can. I am not lazy, I am not exaggerating, I have MS related fatigue!