Sleep vs Rest

'I go to bed tired, I wake tired, I slog through the day tired…' Trevis Gleason explores the difference between sleep and rest'.

The View From Here: Opinions on a Life with MS

There are many things in the coming weeks that will wear down even the heartiest of minds and bodies. Shopping, cooking, decorating, celebrating are all a wonderful part of this joyous season but can leave a ‘healthy’ person knackered. As I pull myself to my laptop to type this, I have to wonder how a person with MS can make it through.

There are many barriers to a restful sleep when multiple sclerosis is the diagnosis. Restless muscles can keep us from falling to sleep. Overactive bladder can wake us during the night. What I call “MS Sleep” has signals bouncing around my brain trying to find a path around damage. Even the medications we use to cope with MS can have side-effects that mess with sleep. It’s no wonder we feel tired after a full night in bed.

So, there can be sleep without rest. What about rest and sleep?

I often find the mid-day kip a requirement. I sometimes find that simply giving myself twenty or thirty minutes of quiet silence can be just as restful (here are 10 tips for a quality mid-day rest). Like so much else when it comes to living with MS; we must each find our way around this personal experience.

We all likely tire of hearing, “Oh, I get tired too” or some such from people who are trying to a) (we hope) empathize or b) (we often experience) shame us into doing more than we can. The fact is that our brains may take six-times more energy to get signals to our body than a person without MS. Yes, they may get tired, but not like this…

There is not a magic wand to wave and give us restful sleep and medications for sleep can vary in effectiveness and can be habit-forming. The best practice is to find a method of sleep hygiene that works for you and works most of the time. I’ve found that nothing is 100% when it comes to living with MS.  

Maybe a restful night’s sleep should be in my letter to Santa!

I wish you all the happiest of Christmas seasons this year and raise a glass to being one year closer to a cure.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



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