I am very tired as I write this blog entry. I would love to take a nap, but I’ve got lots of work to do. This is not unusual for me; why do you think I drink so much coffee?
I have written before about the difference between garden-variety tiredness caused by lack of sleep and the intense fatigue many people with multiple sclerosis suffer. Of course, a person with chronic fatigue can also experience regular tiredness, especially when we’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
But a recent study adds a new wrinkle to the fatigue/tiredness situation. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that of about 900 people with MS who were surveyed by mail, more than a third suffered from obstructive sleep apnea; about a third suffered moderate to severe insomnia; and just over a third had restless legs syndrome. Yet only small percentages reported having been diagnosed with those conditions by a healthcare provider.
That disparity caused the researchers to speculate that some people with MS who suffer daytime fatigue may in fact be suffering from a fundamental and chronic lack of sleep tied to one or more of those sleep disorders.
What are the takeaway messages for people with MS? Well, first, and most obvious, those of us who do feel tired all the time should check with a doctor and get evaluated for sleep disorders – and get ourselves treated, if need be.
Second, the study serves as a reminder that with MS, many things aren’t what they seem to be, so we have to be on our toes all the time, alert to what’s going on in our bodies and prepared to explore what those things may mean.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a nap…..