How Multiple Sclerosis Affects Sleep

MS-Affects-Sleep / arm wrapped in bed sheets

People with multiple sclerosis are at a greater risk of sleep difficulties. They are twice as likely to report lower quality of sleep and three times more likely to experience disturbed sleep.

Multiple sclerosis symptoms can contribute to sleep problems, such as brain damage that can interfere with the circadian clock. Muscle pain, spasms, and other discomfort related to MS can make sleep less restful, or make it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Multiple sclerosis is associated with sleep disorders including:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Nocturia

Fatigue affects 90 percent of people with MS. Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness that is not relieved by getting sleep. People with MS often experience fragmented sleep, or insomnia, waking up due to muscle pain and spasms.

Sleeping with Multiple Sclerosis

Although it can be difficult to sleep with multiple sclerosis, there are solutions that can help. Turning beds and low profile beds can make it easier to change sleeping positions or get out of bed. With bed rails, grab handles, rope ladders, and floor pads, people with MS can be protected from falls and supported as they change positions or get out of bed. With waterproof mattresses and bedding, individuals with MS can have a cleaner and more comfortable sleeping environment.

Some people with MS benefit from weighted blankets. These blankets can calm the symptoms of restless legs syndrome and help induce sleep for insomniacs.

With CPAP machines and anti snoring devices, people with MS who suffer from sleep apnea can sleep better and minimize the risk of sleep apnea.

Some mattresses are not a good choice for people with multiple sclerosis. Memory foam mattresses in particular can cause difficulty. With the soft material of memory foam mattresses, people with mobility issues can get stuck and have a hard time turning over and getting out of bed. Memory foam mattresses also tend to sleep hot, which can be hazardous to people with MS-related nerve damage.

Latex mattresses are recommended as a better choice for people with MS. They tend to sleep cooler than other types of mattresses and offer responsiveness that can make it easier to move on the bed.

To learn more about multiple sclerosis and sleep, visit

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.