Tips for better sleep with psoriatic disease

| Kara Anderson

Is your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis keeping you up at night?

Dr. Kristina Callis Duffin has done extensive research into the sleep-psoriatic disease connection, and has found that people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis often have more sleep issues or have more severe sleep issues than the general population.

Itching and pain can lead to poor sleep, and poor quality sleep can lead to exhaustion and stress, which can make psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse, said Dr. Kristina Callis Duffin, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Utah.

People with psoriasis are more likely to have severe sleep apnea, too, according to Callis Duffin's studies. A recent Citizen Pscientist research paper also found sleep difficulties for those with psoriatic disease. 

Here are some tips for getting a better night's sleep with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis:

Sign up for a sleep study

Many people who have sleep apnea don't know it, and Callis Duffin said those with psoriasis should be mindful if they experiencing certain symptoms, such as snoring, waking up with a headache or feeling tired during the day. This is particularly the case if they are also overweight or obese.

She added that those with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can also experience sleep issues like trouble getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep and restless leg syndrome.

Quality sleep is important, and not just because too little sleep can cause a worsening of itching and pain.

Treating these issues can actually help your mood and symptoms.

"They have new (sleep apnea) masks that fit very differently," she said. "Many patients find they feel better and their psoriasis improves when they get better sleep."

Develop good sleep habits

For those who don't have sleep apnea, but still find themselves waking often or missing out on valuable shut-eye, Callis Duffin said good sleep habits can help a lot – things like:

  • making sure the room is dark
  • waking and falling asleep at the same times each day
  • eliminating noise and distractions
  • keeping the room at a cool, comfortable temperature
  • avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime
  • only sleeping in bed, instead of reading or watching TV

People who are still waking up tired should talk with their doctor, said Callis Duffin, and be cautious about sleep aids which can leave you feeling tired the next day, have side-effects, and in some cases, even become addictive.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated.

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For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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