How Multiple Sclerosis Affects Sleep and Dreams

Dreams are a wildcard—whether you are living with MS or not. For some, dreams are an escape from the physical limitations of life with multiple sclerosis. Others experience something different when they go to bed. Good or bad, the dreams and nightmares tend to have one thing in common: They are extremely vivid.

To find out more about these experiences, we reached out on the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page, and we asked: “Has MS ever affected how you dream or what you dream about?”

More than 300 people in the community commented. Here is what they said.

“I never have to use my walker in my dreams.”

Many shared that in their dreams, they move freely—without the cane, walker or any other aid. In their sleep, they get the peace that comes with escaping any physical limitations.

“I am walking without my cane and I can go everywhere. Up and down the steps. It feels awesome. Then I wake up to my reality.”

“In my dreams, I am always walking and running. I am wheelchair bound, so I love to dream!”

“My dreams involve all sorts of activities I have never done.”

A few others shared that since having MS, their dreams now allow them to have new experiences. In dreams, they take on all sorts of new challenges, from travel to new sports. Thank goodness that this diagnosis does not affect the brain’s creative powers!

“Definitely! My dreams involve all sorts of activities I have never done: skiing, scuba diving, flying on my own, ice skating, running, etc… It is so liberating!”

“I have horrific nightmares.”

For others, dreams are anything but peaceful. Some people believe that dreams are the subconscious working through whatever the waking mind cannot process. This makes sense as to why many people face nightmares, as MS is something that can be hard to accept or understand. Alternately, it is possible that something in the chemistry of having MS makes one more prone to nightmares.

“My 13-year-old son has MS. He has had night terrors since he was an infant.”

“I do not dream at night because of my meds. But, every single time I take a nap I have horrific nightmares.”

“As the nightmare progresses, I slowly lose my ability to walk.”

Some have shared that their nightmares mirror or exacerbate their experiences with MS. In their sleep, they experience the full progression of MS. Others dream of the worst-case scenario with the disease. Still others have MS in their dreams, and their mind creates nightmares, possibly related to their deeper fears.

“I have reoccurring nightmares where I am completely fine in the beginning, but then as the nightmare progresses, I slowly lose my ability to walk (I am wheelchair bound now), and something is always chasing me.”

“I recently had a dream my MS sent me to a mental hospital. I went crazy and deaf as well… and was also slurring my words. It was so awful it affected my mood the whole day.”

We want to say thank you for everyone who shared about their experiences with dreams and nightmares while living with MS. Without them, there is no community where others might find comfort and connection.

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Comments

  • Johanne says:

    I have been having disturbing dreams. Rarely had these unsettling ones before my first two Ocrevus half doses. They leave me in a strange vulnerable mood. Connected to infusion reaction or coincidental?

    • Angel Blair says:

      Hi Johanne, thank you for reaching out to the MSAA. I am sorry to hear about the dreams you’ve been experiencing. It’s a really good question of whether they are possibly related to your Ocrevus infusion doses, or perhaps coincidence. I would suggest talking to your doctor about this, especially if the dreams continue, or possibly talk with one of the nurses on the Ocrevus patient assistance line, phone (844) 627-3887. It may also help to talk to others living with MS about this as well to see if others have experienced something similar. You can do so on MSAA’s online peer support forum, My MSAA Community, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-community/my-msaa-community-forum. I hope this information is helpful to you Johanne and thank you again for reaching out. Take care, Angel, MSAA Client Services Specialist

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