Community Views: Sleeping Through an MRI

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) means you are all too familiar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Some people dread getting an MRI, while others are not fazed by the procedure.

With more than 1,500 responses to the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook prompt, “Do you ever fall asleep when getting your MRI?” there were folks in each camp! There were straight “yes” or “no” answers, while many of you shared why or how you could or could not sleep through an MRI.

Here we share some of your insightful comments!

Dealing with the noise

One thing about MRI machines is they are loud. Whirring, grinding, banging – there are many words to describe the sound. Some of you find the noise soothing. You go to sleep with the MRI functioning as white noise. Others find the noise too loud to tune out. It is jarring and keeps you awake throughout the entire procedure.

  • “Oh, yes. After 11 years’ worth of MRIs, the noise isn’t noise anymore.”
  • “I do. It’s like listening to the dryer.”
  • “Never! It’s too loud.”
  • “How can you? It sounds like you are in a plane cargo space.”

You fall fast asleep

For those of you who sleep, you sleep hard! A few community members said updates from the tech wake you. Some of you said that the tech has to intentionally wake you since your sleep rhythm disturbs the imaging.

  • “I’ve had the tech tell me to quit snoring because it blurs the image.”
  • “They end up having to redo part of it because I move when I am asleep.”
  • “I purposely sit up all night before my scheduled MRI so that I’ll be exhausted by the time I get there.”

MRIs serve as me time

Several of you mentioned enjoying MRIs as the time is all about you. Nothing is allowed in the room with you, which means the time is entirely your own.

  • “It relaxes me so much. That hour in time, no one to bug me, no phone ringing, it’s just me in the magnetic tube.”
  • “I have an MRI coming up, and as a mother of 2 kids, I’m excited about it!”
  • “It’s the best 45+ minutes of alone time in my busy, hectic life.”
  • “I LOVE my MRIs. It’s the only time I am completely unavailable to do anyone else’s crap.”

You need medicines to get you through

The MRI tube is very narrow. For those who are claustrophobic, MRIs can be challenging. Many community members shared that they need a drug to help relax during the procedure. You mentioned several drugs that help you get through the process.

  • “The Xanax helps.”
  • “Never! I’m too claustrophobic. I have to take Valium.”
  • “Only because I took a muscle relaxer before my MRI.”
  • “Due to extreme claustrophobia, I’m always under general anesthesia, so kind of yes.”
  • “I don’t, but I take 10 mg of Diazepam, so I’m relaxed.”

They lead to back pain

MRIs typically require you to lay still on your back for a long time. Several of you mentioned struggling with the process. The MRI is uncomfortable, and being on your back is painful.

  • “I might be able to sleep if lying on my back didn’t cause my leg to spasm and cause serious pain.”
  • “No, because it hurts too much to lay on my back. I can’t even sleep on my back, so I dread MRIs.”

Meditation helps calm your nerves

Many also shared using meditation as a calming technique. For some, that leads to sleep! For others, it keeps you focused and calm through the MRI.

  • “I meditate and pass right out.”
  • “I’ve learned to meditate first, then doze off.”
  • “No, I use it as meditation time.”

We appreciate all the ways you engaged with this prompt! MRIs are part of life with multiple sclerosis (MS). Sharing how you handle the process helps everyone feel less alone.

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