Sleep disorders

EDS patients often suffer from different kinds of sleep disturbances. For example, arousals are known and described in the literature as frequent causes of awakening. Moreover, they interrupt the “deep” stages of sleep, and lead to non-restorative sleep. Those sleep disturbances prevent the body from regenerating, which is especially important for chronic pain patients with already very low energy levels.

Arousals are commonly found in patients that suffer from dysautonomia. The dysautonomia  leads to nightly tachycardia, which in turn causes frequent arousals.
Sometimes, patients do not even recognize that they are suffering from a sleep disorder. They believe that they are actually just sleeping a little bit more, but notice fatigue during day time.

Chronic pain, depression, breathing disorders because of Chiari or CCI, septum deviation, and sleep apnea can also cause non-restorative sleep.

Due to the permanently non-restorative sleep, day time fatigue and pain levels will get worse.

It is recommended for EDS patients to get a sleep study done (Polysomnography).

Sleep disturbances are treated depending on the underlying cause. For example, sleeping disorders caused by POTS  are treated with beta blockers, which stabilize the heart rate at night. Is pain the cause, pain medication should be adjusted.


Dr. Tinkle, EDS conference 2014:

Dr. Pocinki, EDS conference 2014:

Guilleminault C, Primeau M, Chiu HY, Yuen KM, Leger D, Metlaine A. Sleep-disordered breathing in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a genetic model of OSA. CHEST Journal. 2013 Nov 1;144(5):1503-11.