Day-to-Day Living

Sleep Strategies, Better Rest, and MS

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Struggling to sleep through the night is a common frustration for people with MS. Finding sleep strategies that help can have big benefits according to new research.

With MS, getting the right amount of rest can be incredibly difficult. This often leads to a treatment approach of managing sleep patterns, and looking to minimize stress and pain triggers.

Triggers vary for individuals, but there are some common ones:

  • lack of sleep
  • UV light

Even these triggers can interact together. In a study exploring the causes of fatigue, researchers concluded that fatigue is a “multidimensional phenomenon arising out of several contributing factors.” To treat fatigue, researchers suggested focusing on the mediating factors: stress, sleep, and disease activity.

study published in May 2018 explored the the impact of sleep disturbances further. The researchers found that sleep disturbances and depression were mediating variables for both pain and cognitive disfunction. They concluded that non-pharmacologic interventions, including cognitive behavioral therapy, may reduce stress and improve functioning.

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Mediation & Mediator Variables

When designing research studies, it is necessary to consider what will be measured. And, part of that process is defining the independent and dependent variables.

Independent variables are the variables that are changed intentionally by the researchers (different medication dosages, etc.) or are standard variables like age or time. The measurement of these variables does not change as a result of some other variable.

Dependent variables, on the other hand, are variables that are being studied and measured. A hypothesis is a guess at the change in the dependent variable based on the presentation of some independent variable.

Mediation models are another type of study which include mediator variables. Mediator variables are used to clarify the understanding between an independent variable and a dependent variable. In this way, mediator variables attempt to describe chains of action that may be influenced.

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Sleep Strategies

Looking for ways to get to sleep faster and stay asleep? These may help:

  1. Avoid blue light (cellphone screens, television, computers, etc.) 30 minutes before bed
  2. Wake up at the same time everyday (weekends, too!)
  3. Ban pets from your bedroom if they wake you up in the middle of the night
  4. Keep your room slightly cooler than normal
  5. Exercise daily — but try not to work out too close to bedtime
  6. Limit naps. Try to schedule naps and aim for consistency of schedule
  7. Watch your caffeine intake
  8. Do not use alcohol to help you fall asleep. It decreases sleep quality and can lead to dependence issues
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