Right now most of you are rejoicing that summer is over, because it finally means getting some relief from the symptoms that come along with being overheated. However, I seem to be the oddball in this club of ours (no surprise there!). I’m always cold and as a result it takes near-tropical conditions for me to get overheated and have a pseudoexacerbation. On top if it all I discovered last winter that the second I step outside in the cold, the sensation in my legs turns off like a switch. Right now I’m typing this article wearing three shirts, flannel pants, and knee high socks while under two blankets. I can’t blame my MS for being cold all of the time, because I’ve always been this way…in fact my whole family is a chilly bunch. My theory is that we must have some reptilian blood in us somewhere, and we are in fact the first cold-blooded humans. The Butler family can often be found perched in a row on the couch like birds on a power line, cooing and huddling for warmth under whatever blankets they can.
There’s one exception to my endless struggle to be warm, and that’s when I turn into a human torch at night. Let me tell you, this makes for a pretty ridiculous bedtime routine. I shed my multiple layers of cozy clothes, proceed to don thin cotton PJ’s, open the bedroom windows (even in the middle of the winter- sorry honey!), and point a tower fan right on me at the highest speed that my hubby will tolerate.
Many people with MS report this mysterious symptom of overheating at night, and even night sweats. Even though anecdotally I find this to be a fairly common symptom, there are no studies that have been done that explain this, or that really even confirm this it is a true symptom of MS. The fact that MS can cause temperature dysregulation, meaning that it’s difficult for our bodies to maintain normal temperatures, is really the only supporting evidence I have to offer. This temperature dysregulation makes us susceptible to extreme hot or cold, which many of us have experience with. Overheating at night can also be hormonal or linked to endocrine issues, so if you are having night sweats or hot flashes you should make sure they can’t be explained by anything else.
Personally, I only started overheating at night after I was diagnosed with MS. At night I started getting very hot which made my legs spasm and just generally led to me being too uncomfortable to sleep at all. After whining about it to some friends, I learned that they too struggled with similar symptoms. One friend even sleeps in a separate bed than her husband because he doesn’t like sleeping in what feels like a sauna! Before MS my ideal night’s sleep would involve wedging myself under as many comforters and blankets as I could without running the risk of suffocation. So naturally, sleeping without any covers simply doesn’t work for me. I need to burrow, and the comfort of a soft blanket is essential. After playing with different materials for sheets, blankets, and pillowcases I found a combination that maximizes coziness and minimizes sweatiness which is helpful, but the struggle still continues. On really bad nights I’ve also found that a pillow at the foot of the bed allows some air flow down there, and can help out in a pinch.
I will continue to explore and track down more information on this mysterious symptom, and I’m curious if you also get overheated at night. Tell me about your experiences!