Struggle with sleeping? Tossing and turning at night? It may be related to psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Research suggests a connection between sleep disturbance and psoriatic disease.
The scratching-sleepless-symptom flare-up cycle
The itching and pain that psoriasis causes can lead to a restless night and lack of quality rest –> A night of poor sleep can lead to feeling run down and exhausted –> Feeling exhausted can lead to stress, which as many of you know –> stress can lead to flares causing a worsening of psoriasis symptoms.
Beyond scratching and pain that can be associated with disturbing sleep there are studies that have been conducted that have demonstrated that those diagnosed with psoriasis are more likely to have severe sleep apnea as well.One study also found a higher prevalence of restless leg syndrome in those with psoriasis. Both of these conditions can impact a good night’s sleep.1
Tips for a better night’s sleep
So, what can you do to disrupt that scratching-sleepless-symptom flare-up cycle? We’ve gathered some tips from the community to hopefully help you work towards a better night’s rest.
1. Sign up for a sleep study
Sleep studies (also called polysomnography) are used to test and diagnose sleep disorders. The polysomnography measures and records brain waves, oxygen levels in the blood, eye and leg movements that occur while sleeping as well as heart rate and breathing. Sleep studies are typically conducted at a hospital or a specialty care center that has a sleep clinic. Patients are scheduled to stay overnight at the sleep clinic in order for the sleep patterns to be recorded.2 Sleep studies are the method to diagnosis if someone is suffering from sleep apnea and what the level of severity is. Sleep apnea could be a condition that is impacting one’s sleep on top of their psoriasis. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up and still feeling tired after a full night’s sleep, headaches and/or stoppage of breathing or gasping while asleep. Those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea.3 There are treatment options available for those with sleep apnea based on the level of severity. For example, the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). A CPAP is a mask that is made to fit over the nose and/or mouth, and works by gently blowing air into the individual’s airway to help keep it open during sleep.
2. Put down the caffeinated beverage!
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes caffeine, even towards the end of the day, can impact sleep. Opt for herbal options, like a caffeine free tea in the evening or later afternoon. Water with fruit can also be a good option as it is both hydrating and the fruit can add the little extra flavor boost you were craving.
3. Keep that room cool as a cucumber
Temperature does matter when it comes to sleep! The bottom line when it comes to temperature in your den is to try and keep your thermostat somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, research suggests.5 Keeping the temperature cooler lets your brain know that it is time to shut down for the evening. If a room is too hot or too cold your body’s internal thermostat does not recognize it is time for bed.
4. Lights out
Keep your room you sleep in as dark as possible. Our body is programmed to sleep when it is dark. Circadian rhythm, our bodies natural way of regulating sleep, can be influenced by light and darkness. Light hinders the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Therefore if you have light exposure in your bedroom it could be confusing your brain so it doesn’t produce melatonin. The darker you can make the sleeping den- the better!
5. Beds are made for sleeping
While many of us like to climb into bed and watch TV, read a book, look at our phone one last time before bed…it is important to try and make your bed the place where you sleep only. Having a spot that is dedicated for sleeping can be a helpful part of a healthy sleep routine.
6. Hydrate that skin
Make moisturizing part of your evening skin routine. When you go to brush those pearly whites, take a bit of extra time to put on a cream or lotion to help skin stay hydrated while you sleep.
7. Time for bed, time to wake up!
Waking and falling asleep at the same time each day can help with the body’s circadian rhythm. If the body gets into a regular bedtime and wake up time it can help the body to maintain a good night’s sleep.
Getting shut-eye can be difficult if your environment doesn’t support quiet time. Maybe it is a loud neighbor, sounds of the city, or a snoring roommate that break the silence. Eliminating as much noise and distractions in your sleeping space as possible can be an important part of working towards a good night’s sleep. If you can’t eliminate most noises some other ways you can muffle sounds are by using a fan or white noise machine for (better) noise. Noisy neighbor- try acoustic tiles behind your bed frame or use them in a decorative fashion to help with the sound that may be coming from a wall shared with others. Sealing window and door gaps are typically done for insulation purposes, but can also be helpful when trying to drown out additional sounds.
9. Find the perfect PJ
What you wear to bed is important! Finding a fabric that is breathable can help keep the body stay cool at night. Community members have found PJs made with fabric such as cotton can work as it is breathable and won’t rub close to the skin.
10. No more night caps
Alcohol can impact sleep and not in the way you would like. Alcohol impacts rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage where people dream and typically is thought to be the restorative sleep stage. A disruption in REM sleep can cause an increase in drowsiness and can affect the ability to concentrate.5
Quality sleep is important, and not just because too little sleep can cause a worsening of itching and pain, overall sleep helps our bodies stay healthy. Developing and following good sleep habits can help improve sleep and improve mood as well.
While we typically don’t think of bats as the ideal spiritual animal, in this scenario they win- bats are champion sleepers so take a note out of their playbook and find your sleeping cave that is cool, quiet and dark and welcome those Zzzzz’s.