Symptom Management 42 We have a sleep problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders.” Additionally, The National Health Institute reports that “30 percent of adults report an average of less than six hours of sleep per day.” In fact, the problem is so widespread that the CDC has labeled sleep-related issues a public health crisis. The troubles that can come from poor sleep are far more serious than an occasional fit of yawning. Several serious problems can arise from sleep-related issues – from trouble concentrating, to impaired memory, and even dangerous accidents.The National Department of Transportation estimates that, annually, drowsy drivers are responsible for more than 1,500 fatalities and upwards of 40,000 non- fatal injuries. While people may not see poor sleep as a big problem in their daily lives, the consequences can beveryreal and dangerous. When someone has MS, their symptoms can exacerbate sleep-related issues, oractually be the cause of sleep disturbances. In many cases, sleep-related issues can compound symptoms, resulting in a never-ending cycle of problems. This might mean that MS pain, spasticity, or bladder issues keep you awake at night, or regularly wake you from sleep. Those disturbances can result in poor sleep, whichmightthenexacerbatefatigue,weakness, or cognitive issues. And then those issues may exacerbate your original symptoms, leading to even more sleep issues and worsening symptoms. Good sleep habits are essential in order to stay healthy and accomplish your goals, and that is especially true for those facing MS and its symptoms. So, how do we start to solve our sleep problem? First, it is important to understand how much sleep you should be getting. The National Institute of Health tells us that sleep requirements will vary between individuals and will change as we age, but they have laid out some guidelines for best health practices: • School-aged children need 10 hours, at least • Teens need 9-10 hours • Adults need 7-8 hours If you are regularly below these recommended numbers, it is important to get into a better sleep routine as soon as possible. A day, here and there, or a hectic week of poor sleep can be corrected easily. Let’s Find Better Sleep!