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Sleeping enough is key to beating multiple sclerosis — especially in the winter months

Enough sleep is key for beating multiple sclerosis for lots of reasons. It also helps you look like a million dollars.

Those of us with multiple sclerosis (MS) know only too well that a nasty common cold can worsen MS symptoms and make us downright miserable. For this reason, avoiding colds and other infections is key. One way to avoid colds is to get enough sleep — especially over the next few months for those in the northern hemisphere where winter is around the corner and the common cold season is about to start.

Studies show again and again that those who sleep enough not only live longer, they also get fewer colds. One study report from 2009, Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, reported that the risk of getting a common cold is three times greater for those who sleep less than seven hours per day than for those who sleep eight or more hours per day.

If this does not make you want to sleep more, consider that other studies show that those with MS do better if they get enough sleep. Of course, sleep should not be overdone because exercise, etc. is important too.

Some do have difficulty falling asleep at night. Some ways to overcome this problem include: getting exercise each day, stretching before going to bed, avoiding coffee and tea for several hours before going to bed, avoiding eating protein before going to bed, eating a snack with carbohydrates shortly before going to bed (a bowl of popcorn or rice works well), etc.

Finally, remember as we always do on the Intelligent Guide that what is good for our health is good for our looks. As usual, what makes us feel good makes us look good too. Fun!

    11 Responses to “Sleeping enough is key to beating multiple sclerosis — especially in the winter months”

  1. Rebecca Hoover says:

    Hi Dawn, Thanks for the comment. The sleep issue can be frustrating because it seems it takes an all around healthy living program to sleep well at night — it takes diet, exercise, enough vitamin D3, and you name it! By the way, I just read a study showing that drinking some tart cherry juice will help you sleep better at night. Interesting … .

  2. Dawn Draper says:

    Kudos to you Lynne..for still working. I had to stop working April,2011, after 15 yrs with MS.
    Sleeping is a big problem for me lately. Either I wake up several times during the night or wake very early in the morning, then need an afternoon nap. I also take sleep medication, but some nights it doesn’t work as well as other nights..last night was a bad night.
    I am now going to have a nap instead of going out to do my grocery shopping..but tomorrow is another day and hopefully a better one!

  3. Linda Murphy says:

    Thanks Rebecca. I take cholecaliciferol and get a small amount of sun each day (when it is out).
    I also take Gamma Linoleic acid which is evening primrose oil.

    I still find it hard to sleep………..

  4. Rebecca Hoover says:


    Thanks for sharing your feelings. It is always darkest before the dawn and I remember being quite depressed after I was diagnosed too. Then I discovered that I really did have more control than I thought.

    Here’s some ideas for some things you might help you sleep better. 1) Be sure to sleep in a cool place since sleeping where it is too hot is especially difficult for us, 2) be sure to get some exercise everyday, 3) eat some carbohydrates but not protein right before getting ready for bed a night, 3) do stretching exercises at night right before going to bed, and 4) be sure to faithfully follow an all around ultra healthy living program for MS. Just something as simple as keeping your vitamin D level at the high end of the normal range will help more than most would guess. I hope you participate on the Forum too on the OMS site. Folks there have lots of practical ideas for turning thins around.

    Hang in there!


  5. Linda Murphy says:

    I am positive on some days and not so positive.on others days. Sleep in a big thing. I find it hard in the heat, having to take pain and spasticity medication before I feel relaxed.

    I am no longer able to work, which adds to the severe depression. It is a hidious disease and only wish a 100% cure can be found fot it.

    I rest, meditate, pray, take homepathic and pharmaceutical medication, but am still struggling with it.

    Got diagnosed back in 2003 with transverse myelitis, however, ended up in hospital in 2004 — after MRI and lumbar punctures that it was MS. I can’t say how shocked I felt.

    I’ve now had it for 8 years. I was once a very fit lady, swimming 400 lengths in a pool before work or running for 1 and 1/2 hours, doing circuits, pump, aerobics………..fitness was my life.
    Now I can only walk short distances.
    I am so sick of it, some days I want to end my life!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Linda Murphy says:

    Yes, sleep is vital for MS sufferers.I find with my chronic pain, that sleep just doesn’t happen.I have to wind down after taking pain medication and spasticity medication as well.Otherwise I lye ther…waiting and waiting.My highly functioning brain doesnt slow down.
    I am unable to work as Depression has now taken ahold of me Im sad to say.
    Some days I wonder why I am still doinf here??

  7. Tracy Essam says:

    I am no doctor but I have had MS for 13 years. I feel that if your son does well on small amounts of sleep this is NOT good. I must ask does he exercise or get fresh air which would help him to sleep more comfortably. This would lead to fewer MS atacks. I hope this helps Peter.

  8. Rebecca Hoover says:


    Thank you for stopping by. It is interesting that with MS, it is a matter of finding the right balance — both too much and too little sleep can cause problems. In general, about the research suggests that about 7.5 to 8 hours per night is about right with a nap during the day if needed. It could be your son likes activity — and that is very good for MS as long as it is not overdone. Exercising, for example, gives all of us, even those with MS, a boost.

    I am glad that you are taking an interest in MS. The more you learn about what you can do to minimize symptoms, the less scary the whole business seems. Optimism and proactive coping are winners.


  9. Peter Nightingale says:

    My son Mark has MS and he reports that his best days at work occur when he gets
    very little sleep. When he gets a lot of sleep he has much more difficulty. I do not
    understand this as it seems contrary to what I have heard. PN

  10. Rebecca Hoover says:

    Lynne, Thanks for the helpful feedback. You are always so nice and so supportive! Also, it is great to hear of so many who are doing well with MS for so long. I think it is important we share this because being newly diagnosed is s.c.a.r.y and folks need all of the information they can get on how it is entirely possible to live a full and happy life with MS.


  11. Lynne McCormick says:

    That’s so true,Rebecca.I do so much better when I get plenty of sleep.Most mornings I wake at 5.30am which in a Scottish winter need a good deal of will-power so I try to have a short nap when I get in from a long teaching day and I try to have a bed-time before 11pm.On Saturdays and Sundays I regularly enjoy an afternoon nap. this helps to keep me fit and well at 61 and about to go into my 30th year of diagnosis with M.S.

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