Study: Majority of MS Patients Have Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders may require independent diagnosis and management, researchers say.

Sleep disorders may require independent diagnosis and management, researchers say.

More than 70% of participants with multiple sclerosis also have sleep disorders, which may contribute to disease-related fatigue, according to research from the University of California Davis.

Fatigue is the most common and disabling multiple sclerosis symptom, and the research highlights the importance of finding the root cause of the issue, the authors said in a press release. Sleep disorders may affect overall health and well being, as well as influencing disease course, they added.

“The vast majority of these sleep disorders are potentially undiagnosed and untreated,” Steven Brass, director of the Neurology Sleep Clinical Program and UC Davis Sleep Medicine Laboratory co-director, said in a press release. “This work suggests that patients with MS may have sleep disorders requiring independent diagnosis and management.

“Sleep disorder frequency, sleep patterns, and complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness suggest that sleep problems may be a hidden epidemic in the MS population, separate from MS fatigue,” he added.

The study appeared in the September 2014 edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The study cohort included 2375 participants with MS, who completed a 10-page survey covering sleep history, daytime sleepiness, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea.

Approximately 52% of participants reported taking more than a half hour to fall asleep at night, and close to 11% reported taking medication in order to fall asleep. The surveys indicated obstructive sleep apnea, severe insomnia, moderate insomnia, and restless legs syndrome in 38%, 32%, 25%, and 37% of participants, respectively.

Despite these findings, most participants never received a sleep disorder diagnosis, researchers found. Of the participants whose surveys indicated sleep apnea, only 4% reported being diagnosed with the condition.