Startled Awake by Multiple Sclerosis

For anyone living with multiple sclerosis, nights can be a time of stress and worry. Just as you tuck into bed, spasms and tremors grip your legs and body, making sleep impossible. Some of you have just discovered this painful side effect, while others of you have been living with this symptom for years and have found ways to cope.

We posed a question in the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook community, asking how those of you who are coping found what works. More than 100 of you responded to the post, and here’s what you shared.

Wait it out

The most natural solution is one that many of you rely on. Several of you in the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook Community said that the simplest solution worked best: Wait out the spasms until you can fall asleep again.

One member said this: “I can fall asleep easily, but if I am awakened, then my legs go crazy with tremors/spasms. It takes a good 30-60 minutes to get them to settle down before I can drift off again.”

Try medication to treat the spasms

Doctors often treat the nighttime spasms that can come with Multiple Sclerosis with the same medications that used to treat Parkinson’s disease and Restless Legs Syndrome. One such drug is Ropinirole, which is sold under the names Requip, Repreve, Ronirol and Adartrel. Similar drugs include pramipexole, commonly known as Mirapex, and gabapentin enacarbil, known as Horizant.

A member of the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook community recently made the switch to medication, saying, “Mine got worse, so I brought it up at a recent doctor visit. He thought it might be related to Restless Leg Syndrome. He put me on Requip, and the rocking or feeling pushed has all but stopped! Requip in higher doses is used for Parkinson’s Disease. Makes sense now!”

Try sleeping medication

Another solution may be to rely on medication to fall asleep and stay asleep, letting you get rest regardless of the spasms and movements your body might be undergoing. Ask your doctor if a sleeping drug or a painkiller might be right for you.

Another member of the community says that she occasionally also suffers from nightly spasms. “The doctor prescribed 5 mg of Valium, which really helps. I don’t take it every night—just when I am having spasms.”

Consider medical marijuana

For those who live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, it could be an option for quieting the nighttime tremors and spasms. In 32 states, medical marijuana is perfectly legal with a prescription, and multiple sclerosis is on the short list of diagnoses commonly treated this way.

Says one member of the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook community, “I usually rely on medical marijuana half an hour before bed. It works!”

Experiment with alternative treatments

To further reduce the stress and anxiety that may trigger the spasms and tremors, adding yoga, acupuncture, and massage to your health regimen may have a positive effect on your sleep. The success of these alternative strategies can be hard to measure, so only you will know if these practices will help.

We want to say thank you to everyone in the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook community who shared comments, feedback and success stories. It’s our hope that everyone in the community benefits from the sharing of strategies, and finds additional ways to cope with MS.

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Comments

  • Lynn Fields says:

    I would add that there are some lotions and oils on Amazon called Ancient Minerals that have helped me in the past. I used the “Daytime” cream, Nighttime cream. I bought the oil, but have never used it. They have extra Magnesium to help with leg spasms.

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