Sleep Deprivation: A Hidden Side Effect of Eczema

Sleep deprivation is probably the worst side effect of having eczema other than the itchiness itself.

I was reading an article about sleep fatigue, which is a common cause. In it, they cite that more than 5,500 US adults with atopic dermatitis were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their atopic dermatitis history. (How sleep disturbance impacts their daily lives). The survey revealed that a significant number of eczema patients had experienced broken sleep and fatigue.

How does eczema feel like having a newborn?

Yesterday I heard someone talking about sleep deprivation and eczema online. She said something that I thought was really interesting. The lady speaking made an analogy with patients with atopic dermatitis and couples with a newborn baby. They drew parallels with eczema patients who are impacted greatly with impaired sleep is akin to having to get up in the early mornings to attend to a crying child. But instead of this lasting months or a year at most, atopic dermatitis patients live a constant life of broken sleep.

What did I think of this analogy?

Even I, someone who has lived with eczema all my life, never really thought of it like this. I thought to myself that it was a great way to communicate the daily struggle to people who do not fully understand or may not be aware of the full implications of living with atopic dermatitis. I might pass it off as my own deep and clever thought during a future social event.

How are my sleeping habits different?

I spoke to a friend a few days ago and they told me that they had had a rubbish night’s sleep and were fed up. Not wishing to devalue anyone’s experiences, all our problems and worries are all relative. However, when I inquired further, it transpired that they had only gotten six hours straight. They are normally used to getting eight or nine hours. This, no doubt, must have had a really big impact on them. I did think to myself, "Ooh, I would pay to get six hours of solid sleep in a row." Obviously, I kept this thought to myself. It did not feel the right time to blag on about my problems.

What happens when my bedtime routine doesn't work?

It is strange: the things that I normally do to try and combat my sleep deprivation do not seem to be currently working. My normal course of action is to take a hot shower about an hour or so before bed. Cream up and take some antihistamines, which normally gets me off to sleep eventually, albeit broken but in a nice tired, relaxed state. But I cannot seem to shake off my insomnia.

Usually, my eczema keeps me awake, but presently I think even if I did not have this condition, my restless nights would still be as disruptive. My condition just compounds the situation. I am sure that things will improve. They always do. All I can do is hope that they improve sooner rather than later. I found this great quote by E. Joseph Cossman, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

I reckon he's onto something here.

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