Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
A person laying on a couch with heavy eyes and a swarm of eyes circling around the space..

Just Take a Nap!

As most people know, multiple sclerosis (MS) comes with a great deal of fatigue. Even after a solid 8 hours of sleep, I can wake up feeling terribly fatigued and that heavy feeling of fatigue often remains or gets worse over the remainder of the day. Fatigue can be a pretty difficult concept to describe to people who don’t experience it themselves and how can I blame them for not “getting it”?

A nap makes everything worse

I’ve had MS for almost a decade, and I’m still not sure if I fully understand it! So, it’s not at all difficult for me to understand how the majority of people might see me being fatigued as me just being tired which, if you have MS you know, is not the same. But if you don’t understand how being fatigued is not the same as just being tired (even if it looks like it is) then more than likely the solution seems simple to you; just take a nap! I hear that so often and maybe, for others living with MS, that may very well be the best solution, but for me? A simple nap tends to make everything so much worse.

Napping ruins my sleep routine

Ironically, another common symptom of MS is insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep). I have been at war with insomnia for longer than I can remember, but after all the prescription medication, supplements, and home remedies for insomnia that I have tried over the years, the thing that I have found to work best (for me) is developing a consistent sleep routine. Basically, I go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (even on the weekends). It took me a long time to make this work, but I rarely experience insomnia as I did before. This is where taking a simple nap becomes so consequential for me. Taking a nap in the middle of the day results in me not being able to fall asleep at night which means I’m going to wake up later in the morning. Because I woke up later, I’m once again not going to be able to fall asleep at night and just like that? My consistent sleep schedule has been disrupted meaning I am not just fatigued throughout the day, but I am also dead-tired.

I don’t really know how to nap

But ruining my consistent sleep schedule isn’t the only reason I have for not napping when my fatigue is at its worse. I also don’t let myself nap because, well, I guess I just don’t know how to nap. What I mean is, it takes me so long to fall asleep (sometimes up to an hour), and then once I do fall asleep, I can’t get myself to wake up! So instead of a 1-hour nap, I’ll take a 4-hour mini-coma that leaves me feeling groggy for the rest of the day. I just don’t get how people can take a 1-hour nap or a 20-minute cat-nap! How is that possible? Anyway, the whole point of my nap was to feel a little less “tired” and to feel “refreshed,” but instead? I feel even worse than I did before! Now I’m still fatigued, but I also feel extra heavy, unmotivated, and, typically, irritable. Especially when my brain feels extra scrambled by the 4-hour-long nap full of weird half-awake, half-asleep dreams I usually have that leave me questioning reality the rest of the day. “Did that really happen or was that just a dream? What day is it? Should I be making breakfast?”

Extremely frustrating

As you can surely imagine, all of this is extremely frustrating especially when you hear others talking about how great they feel after a nap, when you listen to people talking about how much they cherish their nap time, and when you have 5 cats that all nap around the house throughout the day. It’s so not fair! It’s like all those little, sleepy, poof-balls are just lying around mocking my inability to sleep! Ok, maybe that’s just the post-nap irritability talking, but still! Even more frustrating, to me, is when someone I have explained all this to before, responds to my being extra fatigued by saying, “Just take a nap,” as if it were that simple.

Are naps part of your daily schedule? How often do you nap and for how long? Do you feel that naps help? Or are you like me and end up just doing more harm than good with a nap? Share below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • JustJosie
    2 months ago

    What I find most interesting after reading the article and comments, is how many people have weird half-sleep night dreams!

    They aren’t constant for me, but I definitely have several in concentrated periods of time. I’ll have days at a time of very realistic and emotional dreams. When I wake up, I’m physically exhausted and I can feel that I was grinding my teeth. Sometimes, I wake up very sad and/or disoriented and have a hard time shaking it off.

    I am now wondering if this is a symptom of a relapse!?

    I will be bringing this up with my neuro NP and doctor at my next checkup.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    I don’t know? As much “fun” as people say they are, I kind of want to have a sleep study done to see what it has to say.

  • Susiesunshine79
    2 months ago

    A lot of times I try to nap, but it just doesn’t work out. I do a lot of “resting” which is just laying in the bed trying to nap. On the days I do fall asleep.. 4 hour nap is just the norm for me. I don’t understand how people can be so refreshed after 30 mins and what not. I never feel refreshed! Thank you for this article!! I completely relate to all of it! 🙂

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    Yeah, I pretty much just lie down and watch TV for 30 mins if I have to. Otherwise, if I try to sleep, it takes me like 1 hour to doze off and then I can’t wake up for like 3 hours haha…

  • Yoshitail9
    2 months ago

    Matt
    I’m 72 years old and still waiting to take the first nap in my life. Not a good sleeper. Up every morning at 5:00 am so I tend to conk on the couch at 8:30 pm only to awken at about 11:00 pm wide eyed (with one of the dogs at my feet) until about 12:30 – 1:00 am and being a male of my age up to pee at least once around 3:00 am. And so the cycle continues. Can’t remember the last time I made it to the bedroom to sleep. My wife feels like a widow. At least she has the other dog to keep her company. Not good but it’s become my norm and actually I think napping would exacerbate things. Not

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    OK, let me digress a bit; I’m 29 and up at least once a night to use the restroom even if I don’t drink anything for one hour before bed. My point? Age is not a prerequisite for that problem haha… Maybe if you can find a way to not have to get up to go, you could sleep a tad longer? They have meds and if you’re open to it, a small medical marijuana gummy bear before bed has never failed to prevent me from having to pee at night.

  • potter
    2 months ago

    If I take a nap longer than 20 minutes it will throw my sleep schedule off. If I can take a 5 minute nap it will invigorate me. Often I will get drowsy when I am on the computer, I lean back in my chair and doze off for a few minutes. Potter

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    See, I wish I could do that. I have such a hard time imagining what it would be like to be able to doze off that easily. Ugh…

  • AlanG
    2 months ago

    I take lots of nap. Basically I can put my feet up, close my eyes and be asleep quickly. Sleep apnea has me up and down all night, but I do try to limit the rest I get/take during the day.
    The MS fatigue is, as you have pointed out, totally different from being tired. For me, I feel like my body’s energy rheostat is turned down. There is simply little energy to lift an arm or even stand up. I can and do whatever, but the energy required is exhausting.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    Oh man, I agree. It’s like my PHYSICAL body is out of energy (causing me to feel so heavy) but my brains energy is… well… there is just enough to keep me awake and thinking about all sorts of random stuff!

  • annk
    2 months ago

    Oh Matt, you have put into words my own lack of sleep/fatigue experience…I call it “passing out” from sheer exhaustion when & if sleep comes, and it feels so good. But like you, I have weird dreams & awake unrested most times. I do take sleeping pills every 3 nights, but have a med hangover next morning. Take care

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    Luckily I don’t seem to feel hungover when I use meds, if I did? IDK what I would do…

  • deedeelee
    2 months ago

    Even though I have suffered with insomnia for 30 years & know naps are against the rules of ‘sleep etiquette’ I feel so much better with a nap in the day. Even if the nap goes into overtime, I think I’m making up for lost time. I regularly go nights without sleep so if I catch a nap during the day I will allow it. And I will cherish it.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    I would say if it makes you feel better, go for it – especially if you aren’t getting good sleep at night. I just know for me, if I try to nap, I won’t sleep good at night.

  • chong61
    2 months ago

    Matt,
    No I don’t nap, I can’t. I lay down and my brain goes on overdrive and commands me to get up. Even at night, without a small dose of a medicine, I can’t sleep. Even with the medicine help, it still takes me over an hour to go to sleep.

    My legs decide to draw up to my chin or feel as if they are in boiling water thus I am awake again. It is the same every night. I
    am thankful for any sleep.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    Yep, all day my brain is basically off. It’s silent. But as soon as I lie down to sleep? It’s like it “wakes up” and won’t shut up!

  • JemYeo
    2 months ago

    Hiya hows u doing with your Ms?

  • Michelle
    2 months ago

    The inability to nap is very much my problem. And like you, I generally feel worse if I do happen to fall asleep. I shared this article because it really puts into words the problems with napping (at least for me). Now if the family I’ll be around when I’m done moving reads this, it will be a win. 🙂

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    I hope your family can read this and maybe understand what’ you’re going through a little better!

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi @Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to share. I’m so glad Matt’s article put words to what you’re also experiencing. Many of our community members also find it helpful to share our advocates’ articles with others to help shed light on the many symptoms of MS. I hope the family you shared this with reads it and better understands what you’re going through! – Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • kandis
    2 months ago

    Omg. Yes. I cannot seem to “wakeup” and when I do “sleep it off” I am also usually more tired than when I started my nap. Go figure. No winning this game. Haha.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” – so often the case with MS…

  • Calie Wyatt moderator
    2 months ago

    @kandis we hear you! Trying to win against MS fatigue can seem pure impossible! Thanks for your comment!

    Best wishes, Calie, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Poll