Learn About Lupus: Did You Know?

Sleep Problems in Lupus

Did you know that people with Lupus often report having sleep problems?

According to research published in the February 2014 issue of Lupus Journal, sleep disorders occur in over half of Lupus patients. The authors of the study, a research team from the University of Pisa in Pisa, Italy, examined nine previous studies that reported on the relationship between Lupus and sleep disorders. The team discovered that the majority of the nine previous studies show an association between sleep problems and “disease activity, pain, and fatigue.”

The Lupus Journal article is in line with the Lupus Foundation of America’s findings as well. They report that between 50 and 60 percent of us have sleep disorders. The Lupus Foundation of America lists three specific disorders related to Lupus patients:

  • Sleep apnea, where breathing pauses for a few seconds or even minutes and restarts with a loud snore or choking sound.
  • Chronic insomnia, where you have trouble falling or staying asleep three times a week for at least a month.
  • Periodic limb movement sleep, when your legs or arms twitch or move every 10 to 60 seconds while you sleep.

These disorders cause us to wake up often and get less sleep. When we get less sleep, the fatigue commonly associated with Lupus gets worse; and our already compromised immune systems are negatively affected. Personally, I suffer with chronic insomnia related to my level of joint pain and headaches keeping me awake most nights.

If you have sleep problems related to Lupus, the Lupus Foundation of America recommends seeing your doctor to discuss your issue and ask for a recommendation to a sleep specialist. Depending on your issue, you may be referred to an accredited sleep study center or a behavioral sleep medicine specialist.

Sleep Problems in Lupus

Sleep Problems in Lupus Are Common


American Academy of Sleep Medicine: http://www.sleepeducation.com/find-a-facility
Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine: http://www.behavioralsleep.org/WhatIsBSM.aspx
Article abstract in Lupus Journal: http://lup.sagepub.com/content/23/2/115.abstract#cited-by
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rls/signs
What Is Insomnia? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/inso
What Is Sleep Apnea? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea

Photo: © 2015 Katarzyna Bialasiewicz | Dreamstime.com


Do you have any Lupus-related sleep problems? If so, please share your story with us. The more we share about our experience with Lupus, the more we know—together….

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  • Tracy Kritz February 6, 2017 at 4:13 am

    I am having all of the above. I’m having periodic limb movement’s which I had prior to being diagnosed with lupus but they didn’t really keep me awake. I now have mild sleep apnea due to 70 pounds of excess weight due to prednisones which I never had before and the prednisones self keeps you awake. I am constantly anxious which I think is due to the prednisone and the disease selfish and just the general stress of trying to have lupus work as a doctor could be a mother and be married at the same time. I’m very happy with my kids and my husband and my job is very suitable at this point since I’ve moved away from direct patient care which is making me extremely ill due to my suppressed immune system. I’m now working in telemedicine which I really like but I’m so stressed out by it because The job although wonderful is extremely fast paced, and exhausting. I find that even with a four day a week eight hours a day schedule that is split into two for our segments with a four hour break in between I still am so wound up that I cannot sleep at night. I’ve had to take Ambien and all sorts of other medications to fall asleep. As you can see it’s 4 AM and I’m still awake and I finished work at 8 PM. I should not be awake now but here we are. My prednisones had to be pushed up to 20 mg for the last week due to a flare set off by a viral gastrointestinal infection (I caught norovirus from the kids at my daughter’s birthday party) and my recent Benlysta treatment.

  • Tracy Kritz February 6, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Please excuse all of my typos. I am dictating my comments and I forgot to go back and edit. Sorry about that.