Psoriasis & Sleep: The Ultimate Battle

What is the worst symptom of psoriasis?

If you asked me this five years ago, I would have talked about not being able to wear what I want, or the times the psoriasis plaques itch and burn.

Since my last mega flare, there is no competition.

Itching and the impact on sleep

The worst symptom of psoriasis for me is itching. More specifically, the itching that stops me from sleeping. The itching that is so severe it wakes me from sleep.

There has been nothing more tortuous in my memory than sitting up for the fifteenth night in a row, wanting to cut my skin off with a razor blade for some respite.

I remember googling ‘why me?’ over and over again because it was the only thing that kept my mind busy. Knowing I wouldn't get an answer, but at 2 am it gave me the comfort I couldn't find elsewhere merely tapping out the words repeatedly on my phone's keyboard.

Other people with psoriasis report being unable to sleep

Reading a new report about sleep and psoriasis, I realize it's not just me who finds the lack of sleep one of the most disruptive parts of living with psoriasis.

The Wake Up To Psoriasis report found that 100% of people who lost sleep due to psoriasis found itching uncomfortable and 73% got less sleep than parents with three or more children.1

I have psoriasis and three (soon to be four) children, so this makes me think I need to work on the quality of my sleep!

The impact of psoriasis on every day life

The nightmare of sleep deprivation is that it isn't just coping with itching while you wish you were asleep. It's trying to live a full life during the times awake with a significant sleep deficit.

When I was struggling to sleep, I needed to take time off work incredibly stressful, which then worsened psoriasis and added to the anxieties that prevented me from falling asleep in the first place.

It's known that psoriasis is associated with comorbidities. Conditions that are more likely to affect you if you have psoriasis.

What I found most interesting about the report is the connection between the extent of sleep deprivation experienced by psoriatics and research quoted in the report showing that there are strong links between sleep disruption and conditions already associated with psoriasis-like depression.

Do we tell our doctors about all the impacts of psoriasis?

I went to see mine and was grateful to be given sedative antihistamines. However, the report shows that 40% of psoriatics don't tell their doctor the full impact that psoriasis has on their life.

Are you one of the 40%?

You deserve help if your psoriasis is preventing you from sleeping then go to your doctor and tell them. If it's making you feel frustrated, tell your doctor. Tell them everything. If you haven't been because you don't want prescription drugs that's fine - they can often refer you for psychological therapies and talk to you about other options available. Just don't suffer in silence.

Finding a doctor who supports all aspects of psoriasis

If you're frustrated with your healthcare professional, I get you. It took me 30 years to find a doctor I liked and felt listened, and 47% of people surveyed in the report have been in the same boat - wishing their healthcare professional would offer more support.1

So tell them. They may not realize they are underserving you, and they may not have the skills you need - in which case they should refer or recommend some next steps. If you are left hanging with nowhere else to go you need to put in a complaint and find another doctor. There is always something else to try.

The same goes if your doctor or healthcare refers to psoriasis as ‘only a skin condition’ or makes out it is not essential. Issue a formal complaint, and then try to refrain from pasting their face onto a dartboard or voodoo doll. This is absolute tosh, and there are tons and tons of academic studies that show this is not true.

You deserve a doctor who understands what psoriasis is and the impact it can have on your quality of life - so don't be afraid to find one.

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