Healthy Living

The Surprising Connection Between Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep Apnea

More about sleep apnea and MS

Eventually, the internal alarm sparks our brain back into action and we start breathing again. This “alarm” is initiated by the imbalance of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood stream. This is great, because obviously it means that we keep breathing. The problem is that this causes an adrenaline rush that wakes us up. The person with CSA has nights full of sleep disturbances and shortness of breath resulting in exhaustion. In order for us to have a good night’s rest, we need to have deep sleep, not just shallow fragmented sleep.

If you have ever heard of rapid eye movement (REM), then you might know that this is an important part of restful sleep. The REM cycle occurs during the deeper stages of sleep and is restorative for the body and mind. This allows us to heal from the activities of the day. The REM cycle is also important for our learning and memory. With too many sleep interruptions we are plagued with nonrestorative sleep which has negative effects on our health.

For people with MS, CSA like OSA can be extremely problematic. People with MS really need restorative sleep. With undiagnosed and untreated CSA, they cannot get this. This also increases their likelihood of developing other conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune conditions, cognitive conditions, and cardiovascular diseases. Just like with OSA, a 2012 study revealed a link between CSA and MS.