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Living with MS 

Focus on enjoying the day

Think small

At least at the beginning of your diagnosis—or of your day—try to think small. You might want to begin by listening to your body, and doing what it tells you. It may seem obvious, but many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) keep going even when they know they shouldn't. Instead of trying to push through, take a break at the first sign of fatigue. There's no shame in respecting your limits.

Overcome fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. About 80% of people with MS have fatigue, and about half say it's their worst symptom. Fatigue can be caused by many things, from trouble sleeping, to depression, to lack of muscular strength.

People with multiple sclerosis are also affected by something called "MS fatigue." It's different from other kinds of fatigue. It doesn't happen just because you're tired. It can come on at any time, even in the morning after a good night's sleep.

The good news is that you can do things to deal with fatigue. The most important is to talk to your doctor about your multiple sclerosis and fatigue. Let him or her know as soon as possible that fatigue is a problem for you. The next thing to do is try to stop fatigue before it starts.

Be sure to get enough sleep

Trouble sleeping is also common in multiple sclerosis, and one of the things that can lead to fatigue. Symptoms that can disrupt sleep include painful muscle spasms (spasticity), the need to make frequent trips to the bathroom (nocturia), and involuntary twitching and kicking (periodic limb movements in sleep [PLMS]). Luckily, there are many treatments to help relieve these MS symptoms.

There are also several things you can do yourself to help you relax and sleep:

If none of those things work, don't get stressed out. Get up! Find something active to do that will naturally allow you to become tired. Try playing a game, doing a puzzle, reading, or writing.

If you are considering sleep medicines, talk to your healthcare professional. Just because something is available over-the-counter doesn't mean it's harmless. Trouble sleeping may not have to be a permanent problem, so ask your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist.

Work toward less stress when you have MS

Stress can keep you up at night. For some, it can lead to fatigue. Many people with MS feel that there is a definite connection between stress and MS. For them, stress makes their multiple sclerosis symptoms worse, or even leads to an MS relapse. Stress can't be avoided completely, but it can be reduced.

Source: These suggestions are based on information from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They are general suggestions and are not tailored to the specific needs of any single patient. This information is not intended as a substitute for consultations with your healthcare professional.