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Beyond fatigue: Assessing variables associated with sleep problems and use of sleep medications in multiple sclerosis

Authors Alyssa M Bamer, Kurt L Johnson, Dagmar A Amtmann, et al

Published Date May 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 99—106

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S10425

Published 14 May 2010

Alyssa M Bamer, Kurt L Johnson, Dagmar A Amtmann, George H Kraft

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Background: Recent research indicates that sleep disturbances are common in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), though research to date has primarily focused on the relationship between fatigue and sleep. In order to improve treatment of sleep disorders in MS, a better understanding of other factors that contribute to MS sleep disturbance and use of sleep medications in this population is needed.

Methods: Individuals with MS (N = 473) involved in an ongoing self-report survey study were asked to report on use of over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications. Participants completed the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep (MOSS) scale and other common self-report symptom measures. Multiple regression was used to evaluate factors associated with sleep problems and descriptive statistics were generated to examine use of sleep medications.

Results: The mean score on the MOSS scale was 35.9 (standard deviation, 20.2) and 46.8% of the sample had moderate or severe sleep problems. The majority of participants did not use over-the-counter (78%) or prescription (70%) sleep medications. In a regression model variables statistically significantly associated with sleep problems included depression, nighttime leg cramps, younger age, pain, female sex, fatigue, shorter duration of MS, and nocturia. The model explained 45% of the variance in sleep problems. Of the variance explained, depression accounted for the majority of variance in sleep problems (33%), with other variables explaining significantly less variance.

Conclusions: Regression results indicate that fatigue may play a minor role in sleep disturbance in MS and that clinicians should consider the interrelationship between depression and sleep problems when treating either symptom in this population. More research is needed to explore the possibility of under-treatment of sleep disorders in MS and examine the potential effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical treatment options.
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, sleep, depression, fatigue, nonpharmaceutical treatments, selfmedication

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