Sleep, night-time and psoriasis

Getting enough sleep is an issue for some young people with psoriasis. Sometimes symptoms like itchiness became worse at night which made it difficult to sleep. Zara and Carys sometimes scratch their skin in their sleep, which is painful and causes bleeding. Some people tried various ways to manage the itchiness and sleep better. Lisa says it helps to sleep in a cool room. Louie’s psoriasis flares-up if he overheats so he uses a lower tog duvet. Lucy takes antihistamines at night which were recommended to her by her GP.
Being tired can be a trigger for flare-ups. Some people found tiredness, stress and psoriasis combined in a ‘vicious cycle’. Russell says his skin shows when he’s exhausted and not looking after himself: it’s “a bit of a kick in the backside really to start eating better, to try and have more early nights”. Steven hadn’t noticed any change to his psoriasis if he is not sleeping well.

Not getting enough sleep could impact the next day, making it hard to focus in classes, exams, lectures or at work, and add extra stress in the person’s life. Getting up early to travel to doctor appointments and go for treatments can be tiring. Abbie fitted in phototherapy sessions around work, which she says did “exhaust me over time”.
Many had a treatment routine which involved applying topical treatments in the evenings and/or for overnight. This could be time-consuming. Steven keeps on dithranol treatments for an hour each evening. Abbie has to get up earlier in the morning to wash off her overnight treatment. Carys works as a hospital nurse and, after working long shifts, says she spent up to an hour putting on emollients which was “the last thing on your mind”.

Other downsides of topical treatments were mentioned too, such as being messy, sticky, greasy and stinky. Keeping topical treatments on overnight can be tricky as people said they would often rub off on bedding and pyjamas. Steven found coal-tar lotions stained. This increased laundry, but a few people said that fresh clothes/bedding can be itchier. Some people had solutions for keeping treatments on the skin of certain body parts like the feet, such as wearing socks. 

Not all topical treatments were uncomfortable and some people were really pleased with the result the next day. Lucy sometimes sleeps with olive oil on her scalp which she says soothes the skin and gives it a “good moisturise”. 

Other concerns people mentioned about sleep/night time were worries about others seeing skin flakes on bedding (see also about house cleaning in the section about family and home life) and difficulties with taking/using treatments when staying over at someone’s house.


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