Psoriasis and Sleep

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Most of us have experienced sleep deprivation at one point or another. Not only does it make it hard to get through the day, it can increase our stress levels and affect our mental health. To avoid this, the National Sleep Foundation recommends all adults get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you are somebody who suffers from psoriasis, sleep may have an even bigger impact on your quality of life. More and more, studies are suggesting sleep may be linked to symptoms of psoriasis. With over 50 percent of all psoriasis patients reporting sleep disturbances, here are some important things for you to know.

What’s Happening Inside Your Body

Psoriasis is believed to be an autoimmune disease. Instead of the immune system working solely to protect your body against things like viruses and bacteria, it also attacks its own tissues. Your body releases chemicals that cause inflammation within the skin.

Additionally, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body undergoes stress and a similar inflammatory response occurs. This has also been shown to occur in other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.

This has led scientists to believe that there is some kind of cyclical relationship between your mental state and psoriasis flares.

What You Feel and See

While it’s still unknown whether psoriasis triggers sleep difficulties or whether lack of sleep causes psoriasis to worsen, there are symptoms you should watch for and report to your doctor. Make sure to pay attention to changes in your mental health as well.

Psoriasis-related:

  • Worsening itch

  • Increase in pain

  • Higher frequency of flares

  • Joint pain

Sleep-related:

  • Hard time falling asleep

  • Difficulty staying asleep

  • Feeling very tired during the day

  • Increase in snoring

  • Feeling of gasping or choking while sleeping

  • Experience of restless legs

Mental health-related:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness

  • Lack of interest in normal activities

  • Feeling increasingly overwhelmed, on edge

  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless

  • Difficulty engaging in social interactions

Putting it All Together

As doctors are increasingly treating both the psychological and physical symptoms that often occur with psoriasis, it’s important you are open with your doctor about how you are feeling. This way, he or she has the information needed to treat the whole picture, which will likely lead to a more successful outcome.

There are things you can do to help yourself too.  Follow these suggestions to get a better night’s sleep and reduce stress, and hopefully improve your psoriasis symptoms in the process:

  • Try to set a pattern of going to bed and waking up at the same time.

  • Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

  • Limit electronics, whether TV, computer, or phone, before bed.

  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine, like taking a warm bath or practicing meditation.

  • Exercise every day and make healthy food choices.

  • Provide yourself an outlet for your stress, such as journaling, talking with a friend, or seeing a counselor.

The mind-body connection is a powerful one, and its impact on diseases like psoriasis is evident. While there is still no cure for psoriasis, as our understanding of it continues to grow, the more accurately we can address its triggers and its treatment.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 21
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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