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Psoriasis and Sleep

By

Erin Azuse

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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PHYSICIAN CONTRIBUTOR psoriasis-on-elbow

Expert Answers to Psoriasis Treatment FAQs

Dr. David Harvey, a dermatologist and surgeon, answers some common psoriasis questions.
man-sleeping-on-side

Most of us have experienced sleep deprivation at one point or another. Not only does it make it hard to get through the day, it can increase our stress levels and affect our mental health. To avoid this, the National Sleep Foundation recommends all adults get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you are somebody who suffers from psoriasis, sleep may have an even bigger impact on your quality of life. More and more, studies are suggesting sleep may be linked to symptoms of psoriasis. With over 50 percent of all psoriasis patients reporting sleep disturbances, here are some important things for you to know.

There are many treatment options for psoriasis, and they all come with risks and benefits. Ultimately, whether you treat with topical creams, light therapy, or medications, you and your doctor will decide the best treatment path together.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

What’s Happening Inside Your Body

Psoriasis is believed to be an autoimmune disease. Instead of the immune system working solely to protect your body against things like viruses and bacteria, it also attacks its own tissues. Your body releases chemicals that cause inflammation within the skin.

Additionally, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body undergoes stress and a similar inflammatory response occurs. This has also been shown to occur in other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.

This has led scientists to believe that there is some kind of cyclical relationship between your mental state and psoriasis flares.

What You Feel and See

While it’s still unknown whether psoriasis triggers sleep difficulties or whether lack of sleep causes psoriasis to worsen, there are symptoms you should watch for and report to your doctor. Make sure to pay attention to changes in your mental health as well.

Psoriasis-related:

  • Worsening itch

  • Increase in pain

  • Higher frequency of flares

  • Joint pain

Sleep-related:

  • Hard time falling asleep

  • Difficulty staying asleep

  • Feeling very tired during the day

  • Increase in snoring

  • Feeling of gasping or choking while sleeping

  • Experience of restless legs

Mental health-related:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness

  • Lack of interest in normal activities

  • Feeling increasingly overwhelmed, on edge

  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless

  • Difficulty engaging in social interactions

Putting it All Together

As doctors are increasingly treating both the psychological and physical symptoms that often occur with psoriasis, it’s important you are open with your doctor about how you are feeling. This way, he or she has the information needed to treat the whole picture, which will likely lead to a more successful outcome.

There are things you can do to help yourself too.  Follow these suggestions to get a better night’s sleep and reduce stress, and hopefully improve your psoriasis symptoms in the process:

  • Try to set a pattern of going to bed and waking up at the same time.

  • Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

  • Limit electronics, whether TV, computer, or phone, before bed.

  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine, like taking a warm bath or practicing meditation.

  • Exercise every day and make healthy food choices.

  • Provide yourself an outlet for your stress, such as journaling, talking with a friend, or seeing a counselor.

The mind-body connection is a powerful one, and its impact on diseases like psoriasis is evident. While there is still no cure for psoriasis, as our understanding of it continues to grow, the more accurately we can address its triggers and its treatment.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 25, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Can't sleep? Psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis may be to blame. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/cant-sleep-psoriasis-psoriatic-arthritis-may-be-blame
  2. National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-slee..
  3. Review of Mental Health Problems in Psoriasis Patients Emphasizes Inflammatory Mechanisms. Psoriasis News Today. http://psoriasisnewstoday.com/2016/07/19/review-mental-health-conditions-psoriasis-underscores-infla...
  4. Stress as an Influencing Factor in Psoriasis. Medscape. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/742811
  5. Moynihan J, Rieder E, Tausk F. Psychoneuroimmunology: the example of psoriasis. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2010 Apr; 145(2): 221–228.

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