Fatigue experienced by people with multiple sclerosis could be linked to a sleep disorder that has not yet been diagnosed, new research shows.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that sleep disorders can often go undiagnosed in patients with MS and that if not treated could lead to progression of the condition.
Sleep disorders are common in people with MS, as fatigue is a key symptom of the condition, but experts say that sleep problems such as infrequency of sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness could be a hidden epidemic in the MS population.
Participants in the study included 2,400 people diagnosed with MS who completed a survey asking questions about their sleep history, daytime sleepiness, insomnia and restless legs syndrome.
The results showed that about 52% of the participants needed more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night with around 11% saying that they needed help from medication to fall asleep. Of the participants, more than 70% had at least one sleep disorder.
Around 38% were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea based on the study but it was found that only about 4% had been diagnosed with the sleep problem previously.
Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS is an immune-mediated disease that affects the central nervous system with symptoms ranging from vision loss to weakness and numbness.