Measuring sleep in people with multiple sclerosis (MS)

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) often report sleeping problems that can contribute to other serious health condition (such as, depressive symptoms, fatigue, and pain). People living with MS sometimes have additional health conditions that may contribute to disturbed sleep (e.g., spasticity, neuropathic pain, restless leg syndrome). In this small pilot study, actigraphy watches, environmental sensors, and self-reported questionnaires were used to examine sleep in 39 participants. Wearing an actigraphy watch is a non-invasive method to monitor rest/activity cycles and is useful for assessing daytime sleepiness. Sensors are a quick, easy, and inexpensive method to collect information about the sleep environment such as light, temperature and sound. Agrigraphy data indicated that participants were alert 15 percent of the time during the night and that it took individuals 36 minutes to achieve the first 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. On average, participants experienced 23 wake bouts during the night. Over 90 percent of participants with actigraphy data met the definition for insomnia. Sensor data indicated that the environmental conditions had minimal impact on the participants sleep quality. This suggests that the reasons for sleep problems in people living with MS are largely unrelated to environmental disturbances and environmental sensors may not be particularly useful in studies of sleep in MS. Finally, the use of disease modifying therapies was associated with higher sleep disturbances, while employment and higher education were associated with less sleep problems.